RICO, Freedom, & Abortion (was Re: Discovery Institute Accuses Rioters of Rights Violations)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sat Aug 5 11:18:21 PDT 2000

From Nathan to Carrol:

>The problem with NOW and Planned Parenthood is that they ultimately chose
>a court-oriented strategy for abortion rights over a political
>mobilization model. The result was two-fold: first, they ended up
>choosing court power over the 1st Amendment, the point above; secondly,
>they ended up narrowing abortion rights down to a "right to privacy" which
>ultimately tossed poor women overboard, since privacy as opposed to
>equality has little class character.
>Many other feminists saw the court strategy early on as dangerous for
>these exact reasons. Interestingly, even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has
>argued that Roe v. Wade may have hurt the feminist movement by isolating
>it from electoral politics in favor of court maneuvers, thereby in many
>ways undermining the coalitions that might have pushed through the ERA and
>other majoritarian feminist goals (which would have protected abortion
>rights as part of a broader agenda).

1. I deplore the fact that NOW & Planned Parenthood resorted to the use of RICO. In a fragmented & decentralized movement such as feminism, however, even feminists who were opposed to NOW & PP tactics -- who might or might not have been in the majority -- had no way of restraining them from choosing a court-oriented strategy as opposed to a political mobilization model. Much less did any other political group opposed to the use of RICO against anti-abortionists & other political groups have any means of preventing NOW & PP from filing civil RICO suits. This is a price we pay in a decentralized political environment.

2. I'd prefer equality as opposed to privacy as a fundamental ground for the protection of reproductive rights & freedoms, and many other feminists agree with Nathan. Neither courts nor electoral politics, however, have been promising grounds for fighting for reproductive rights & freedoms with an argument that women need abortion to achieve gender equality & that all women are equally entitled to abortion, regardless of incomes.

3. Jusice Ginsburg's position is an arguable one. But for Roe v. Wade, abortion may be still illegal in conservative Southern states, for instance, if fought electorally state by state. And in my opinion, American feminists have never commanded an electoral majority committed enough to reproductive choice to pass a Federal statute comparable to what Roe v. Wade made possible.

4. Defenders of broad protection of free speech in all instances, in my view, should make political stakes clear by admitting that in their eyes free speech for anti-abortionists (since it has necessary implications for all free speech) takes precedence over women's right to abortion. A very vocal & often violent minority in America has successfully made abortion inaccessible by threatening & sometimes taking the lives of abortion providers, vandalizing & bombing clinics, etc. In other words, freedoms for anti-abortionists created a chilling effect on freedoms of women & abortion providers. There is a zero-sum game of political freedoms here: political freedoms for anti-abortionists take away from political freedoms of women & anti-abortionists. This fundamental conflict must be admitted. I agree that *RICO is a bad law & should not be used against political organizations*. Those of us who disagree with NOW & PP, however, have a political obligation to come up with a more effective strategy than theirs to curtail anti-abortion terrorism & reverse the decrease of abortion providers & to put it into practice. Also, *while I'm against the use of RICO here & now*, *under socialism*, I might argue for the banning of anti-abortion activities if necessary (I hope anti-abortionists will disappear from the political map under socialism without any use of state power, but I don't count on it).

5. Those who have such fundamental faith in electoral politics as Nathan should work to undo RICO in electoral politics, instead of blaming NOW & PP as the cause of increased state repression of political freedoms.


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