Scare them to death. Use up their resources. Try to bankrupt them.
Abortion lawyer Margi Haimes, at the
National Abortion Federation convention, Los Angeles, May 14-16, 1984.
Reproductive rights are the paramount right in this country for
women, and, as such, they take precedence over all other rights.
Pro-choice activists must use whatever legal tools they can get their
hands on against the anti-choice minority who want to strip women of
this most fundamental right.
These tools include the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Ku Klux Klan Act,
and most effective of all the Racketeering-Influenced, Corrupt
Organizations (RICO) Act.
Despite the fact that virtually all of the media, the medical
profession, the legal profession, and all of the other elite groups in
this country are pro-abortion, the pro-life movement continues to gain
ground with the public.
Why is this?
Simply because the average member of the public knows what is killing
and what is not in spite of the cascade of Newspeak and propaganda
dished out by pro-abortion organizations. The pro-life message, despite
vigorous censorship by the press, is leaking through and it is having a
profound impact on public consciousness.
The courts of this country have always been friendly to the
abortionists. Even when abortion was illegal, judges generally did not
prosecute illegal abortionists, and in many cases even looked the other
way. However, even though the pro-aborts had little support from the
people or from state legislators, they made an unexpected and
spectacular end-run around the entire normal judicial and legislative
process and obtained abortion on demand on January 22, 1973.
Despite all of the efforts of the Clinton regime, the pro-life
movement is gaining ground in the grassroots arena, and the pro-aborts
know that their only chance to defeat or stall its progress is in the
courts, in particular by filing racketeering (RICO) suits against
pro-lifers in an attempt to drive them out of activities that save
This phase of the pro/anti-life struggle started in 1985 and will
inevitably continue until Congress redresses these abuses of the
racketeering statutes and the civil justice system.
RICO: Legal Sledgehammer.
What is RICO?
In 1970, Congress passed a little-known law entitled the
Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was
designed to allow prosecutors more latitude in attacking organized crime
at its source illegal activities. This Act was intended to attack
"patterns of racketeering activity," including but not limited
to murder, extortion, kidnapping, burglary, drug transport and sale,
pornography, and gambling.
While a RICO charge is being investigated, the State has the power to
freeze the target organization's assets, and, if a conviction is
obtained, it may confiscate property used in the crimes as well as levy
fines that may amount to as much as three times the money made in the
At the last minute, Congress also decided that RICO may be used in
civil court in addition to criminal court. As G.K. Chesterson said,
"A law is like a dog; once you set it loose, it follows its own
nature," and this is certainly the case with RICO. The civil
modification by Congress has led to a proliferation of uses never
intended by the lawmakers. For example, RICO has been used against
finance companies, chocolate companies, and small pornographic
bookstores that have no connection whatever with organized crime.
Typical Misuses of RICO. Some of the cases where RICO has been
misapplied border on the ludicrous, and include the following;
• The National Organization for Women (NOW) and other
pro-abortion groups claimed that Illinois pro-life activist Conrad
Wojnar and Des Plaines Pro-Life, a group of crisis pregnancy centers,
engaged in "racketeering" by burying 5,000 aborted babies!
• The wife of comedian Pat Paulsen sued him for divorce under
• During the Imelda Marcos RICO trial addressing the embezzlement
of money from the Philippines, the presiding judge threw up his
hands and plaintively asked "What am I doing
• When pilot's and machinist's unions publicly charged Texas Air
with violating airline safety rules, management retaliated by filing a
RICO suit against the unions, alleging a "pattern of racketeering
• When rescuers blocked doors at a West Hartford, Connecticut
abortuary in 1989, police savagely beat and molested them, causing
scores of injuries. The town subsequently filed a racketeering suit
against the publisher of the Orange County Post for the heinous
offense of publishing an opinion column entitled "Redneck
Justice," which highlighted this police brutality.
An angry judge threw the suit out.
Certainly the most common intentional misuse of RICO has been against
pro-life groups. Since 1986, more than 50 RICO suits have been filed
against pro-life individuals and groups. Under the definition of
'extortion,' pro-abortion groups may allege that pro-lifers have engaged
in a pattern or "campaign of fear, harassment, and
intimidation." "Extortion" has even been defined by some
plaintiffs as "gaining satisfaction from "saving alleged fetal
A RICO lawsuit does not even have to specify individual illegal acts.
For example, the Portland Feminist Women's Health Center brought a
Federal RICO suit against 14 local pro-life activists, in spite of the
fact that no illegal act, including trespassing, had ever been committed
by any of them.
The plaintiffs merely alleged that 100 unnamed "John Does"
had vandalized the clinic on several occasions, and further alleged that
these "John Does" were "acting in concert" with the
A preliminary injunction was entered by the District Court and upheld
by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This critical case set a
precedent that allowed any pro-abortion group to file a multi-million
dollar civil racketeering suit against any pro-life individual or group
even if they had engaged in purely protected speech!
SLAPP 'Em Down.
A lawsuit filed by a corporation or public entity against a
special-interest group for the purpose of chilling freedom of expression
is generally referred to as a "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public
Participation," or SLAPP.
Such lawsuits have been filed against environmental groups that have
been engaged in purely Constitutional speech, and against individuals
for acts as trivial as authoring a letter to a local newspaper that
opposed a specific land development.
The major networks devoted at least three half-hour television news
programs to SLAPPs in 1990. The commentators strenuously denounced the
use of litigation against protected speech. Although the shows dealt
with a variety of examples, not a single word was mentioned about the
heavy use of the RICO statutes against pro-lifers, a classic series of
SLAPPs if there ever was one.
This is not surprising in light of the fact that the press admits
that it is heavily pro-abortion. In other words, the networks oppose
lawsuits brought for the purpose of suppressing free speech but only if
it is free speech that they agree with.
The Inappropriateness of Civil RICO.
It is generally acknowledged by neutral legal scholars and even the
American Civil Liberties Union that RICO statutes must only be used when
other remedies have proven inadequate. As Antonio Califa of the ACLU
asserts; "The ACLU believes that civil RICO's potential for
chilling First Amendment rights of expression is enormous ... Congress
should amend RICO, now ... Abortion clinic protestors are not
racketeers, and should not be treated as if they are."
Curiously, the most extreme left-wing elements in this country (i.e.,
socialists and communists) recognize the very real dangers that RICO
poses to themselves as well as to pro-lifers.
Socialist writer Marlene Fried sees the use of RICO as
"complicity" with an "oppressive system;"
We want to stop the anti-abortion movement, but using the very
tactics that are so often used against progressive movements makes us
uneasy about the way the battle has been shaped. Counting on the
police to keep the clinics open, counting on the courts to preserve
abortion rights, counting on the medical establishment to provide
abortion services are all seen as complicity with an oppressive system
a system that should be challenged, not relied upon.
This theme is reflected in even clearer terms by a writer for the
Communist magazine Proletarian Revolution; "RICO is
supposedly an anti-racketeering law, but its real aim is to bypass
constitutional rights to privacy and other civil liberties ... Endorsing
it as a weapon for fighting the anti-abortionists sets a dangerous
precedent that will undoubtedly backfire and be used against the women's
movement as well."
Trespassing and picketing are obviously not racketeering or
extortion. There are adequate remedies at law for illegal acts, such as
local prosecution that results in civil penalties including jail
sentences. Why, then, are the pro-aborts using RICO?
The answer is simple: Because they can get away with it!
The objectives of the wave of pro-abortion RICO suits are twofold;
(1) To intimidate pro-life street activists. This objective has not
been fulfilled, because Operation Rescue and sidewalk counselors will
not be deterred from their ultimate mission of saving human lives.
Nothing that the courts do or say can possibly stop Operation Rescue,
which has ignored injunctions in Atlanta, Southern California,
Washington State, and many other locations.
(2) To intimidate organized religion. This objective has definitely
been achieved for now. Many churches have backed off from their public
support of Operation Rescue, and even from their support of legal
pro-life activities such as sidewalk counseling, for fear of lawsuits.
However, since street pro-lifer activists have never really enjoyed
the support of organized religion, this pro-abortion success is not a
major setback for pro-lifers, but merely a temporary delay of final
victory. Conditions remain the same as they were before.
The first successful use of the RICO statute against pro-life
activists at the appeals level culminated on March 2, 1989, when a
three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the
ruling of a district court that 26 Philadelphia pro-lifers were guilty
of extortion under RICO and liable for $43,000 in damages and $65,000 in
pro-abortion attorney's fees.
The lower Court had found that these activists had trespassed and
engaged in assault and outright destruction of clinic property. In
October of 1989, the United States Supreme Court, ruling on an appeal in
this case, held that the Federal RICO statute could indeed be used
against protestors who engage in 'violent' activities.
Of course, to pro-abortionists, any kind of pro-life activity at all
is 'violent' especially if it cuts into their killing business. The
National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and the National Abortion
Federation (NAF) have defined picketing and even undesirable mail as
"violent activities," and several pro-aborts have testified
during RICO trials that even silent prayer away from the clinic door is
"violence against women!"
For more information on these absurd allegations, see Chapter 19 of
Volume I, "Pro-Abortion Violence."
Bluster's Last Stand.
The pro-aborts quite obviously are incensed at their inability to lay
the abortion issue to rest once and for all, and have found a superb
weapon for use against pesky pro-lifers: RICO suits are easy to file and
very difficult to defend.
As Socrates said, "The charge of conspiracy is a tool used by
tyrants to silence free thought." Pro-abortion forces waited for a
dozen years without resorting to this judicial terrorism because they
did not feel the type of pressure that they are now facing. Now, of
course, with Operation Rescue and other militant groups in action,
anything goes: Federal and state RICO, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and
the Civil Rights Conspiracy Act. Anything that works will be
used, no matter how far the law must be stretched.
However Draconian such laws usually are, they are completely useless
against people who are committed enough to rescue babies despite
possible loss of everything they own including their freedom. It is
axiomatic that the commitment of Christians is directly proportional to
the amount of persecution they are forced to endure for the Lord.
This has been the case for 2,000 years. When comfortable,
fence-sitting Christians finally perceive that they may one day
be threatened, they will finally abandon their static positions and take
direct, concrete, and effective action.
How to Prepare.
It is obvious that RICO will be a feature of the pro/anti-life legal
landscape for at least several more years. It is equally obvious that
ALL pro-life groups even those acting entirely within the law are
vulnerable to this type of legal terrorism, especially if they are being
effective at stopping abortion through persistent sidewalk counseling,
picketing, or similar tactics.
The time to prepare is NOW, before a lawsuit is filed! Each
group, if it feels vulnerable, should prepare by taking the steps
outlined in the following paragraphs.
Preparation and Groundwork.
Each group must find attorneys that are willing to defend it. Many
large law firms allocate a fixed quota of labor for pro bono
(donated) legal work. Contact these firms and individual lawyers.
Pro-lifers should not feel restricted to checking just their own towns;
they should also contact the pro-life groups listed in this chapter for
Locating attorneys right now is absolutely essential!!
When the lawsuit is filed, it will be too late!! Pro-lifers will
typically have only one to two weeks to prepare for a 'show cause'
hearing after the lawsuit is filed (in a 'show cause' hearing, the usual
procedures of law are reversed; defendants essentially have to prove
Each pro-lifer should check his homeowner's policy: Many pro-life
RICO defendants have found that their homeowner's insurance will provide
an attorney to defend such actions, since it is usually in the insurance
company's best interests to do so. However, this tactic may backfire;
insurance companies may want to settle out of court with the
abortionists, thereby allowing the baby-killers to gain a lot of money
for little effort, and encouraging other pro-abortionists to file
lawsuits in anticipation of a perceived 'deep pocket.'
Each group must also find expert witnesses to testify in their
behalf, such as pro-life medical doctors (OB-GYNs) who can state that
picketing does not endanger women's lives, and economics experts who can
analyze clinic business practices and the actual impact of pro-life
activities on clinic business.
It will also be useful to find several women saved from abortion and
who will testify regarding the help the groups have given them.
It is absolutely essential to document everything that happens
outside the clinics of interest. Groups may borrow, buy, or rent a
camcorder and record all large events outside the abortuary. These tapes
are invaluable for demonstrating in court the peaceful nature of
pro-life activities and the violent and aggressive nature of the clinic
employees, escorts, and clients.
It is also vital to take the following steps;
• Dig up dirt on the clinics and abortionists. This type of
information can be extremely useful in trial defense, and can also
deter lawsuits (if the pro-aborts know that pro-lifers have lots of
muck about them, they will be considerably more circumspect in their
actions and allegations). Look for building and safety code
violations, personal information on clinic abortionists, escorts, and
administrators, and lawsuits against all of the above for assault,
botched abortions, and so on. Much of this information is also very
useful for sidewalk counselors. For hundreds of sources of information
on all aspects of the abortion debate and for information on a number
of references that show how to "dig up dirt" on abortionists
and their minions see Appendix A of Volume III, "Tips for Further
• Learn from other RICO suits. Documentation on typical cases is
available from Free Speech Advocate's brief bank. Write to:
Free Speech Advocates
New Hope, Kentucky 40052
Telephone: (502) 549-5252.
What's Sauce for the Goose
Surviving a RICO trial can be a terrifying experience, but, in the
long run, it can strengthen true pro-life activists.
One feature of almost all of the pro-abortion RICO suits against
pro-lifers is the indiscriminate naming of defendants. In one such case,
the plaintiffs admitted that they had not even read the complaint. In
another case, a pro-abortion group was inadvertently named as a
In almost all cases, such carelessness will lead to a number of
defendants being dismissed from the case before it comes to trial.
It is mandatory that these defendants immediately locate a good
pro-life attorney and file a countersuit under as many documented
counts as possible, including, but not limited to, harassment, malicious
abuse of process, and perjury.
This immediate counterattack serves two vital purposes;
(1) If the countersuit is filed before the original pro-abortion
RICO suit comes to trial, it can place the plaintiffs and their
attorneys under real pressure, and can distract them from doing their
job properly. If the pro-life case is strong enough, it may even be
possible to get the plaintiffs to drop their case.
(2) Even more importantly, timely and vigorous pro-life
counterattacks will serve notice that any pro-abort who files a RICO
suit without good cause is going to get nailed and hard! The only
way to stop the wave of pro-abort RICO suits, short of
Congressional action, is by making the pro-aborts learn that the law
is a two-edged sword.
A large number of pro-abortion individuals and groups have vowed to
set up illegal abortion networks if abortion is once more criminalized,
either in the country as a whole or in individual states, as described
in Chapter 18 of Volume I, "Pro-Abortion Illegal Activities."
These take the form of "aboveground railroads" to areas
where abortion is accessible, or a resurrection of the "Jane"
networks where women gather in groups to abort themselves.
Pro-lifers should be looking ahead to the time when abortion is
illegal again, and should be considering ways in which Federal and state
RICO statutes may be used against the pro-abortionists.
Legal Aid and Advice.
The following pro-life organizations have competent legal staffs that
have represented pro-life activists in the past at many levels of
involvement, from writing amicus briefs and giving free advice to
arguing cases in various courts.
If a pro-life individual or organization is faced with the threat of
a lawsuit (actual or impending), these groups can give valuable advice
and the names and addresses of local pro-life attorneys.
It is a mistake to rule out the local American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) chapter. Although it has done incalculable damage in other areas,
the ACLU still may help pro-lifers defend the aspects of their case that
are strictly related to free speech (they defend Nazis, don't they? And
pro-lifers are even more unpopular than Nazis in many places, because
they pose a real 'threat' to the Neoliberal agenda).
Americans United for Life (AUL)
343 South Dearborn Street, Suite 1804
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Telephone: (312) 786-9494
FAX: (312) 342-2656
(A public interest law firm which protects anti-abortion,
anti-infanticide, and anti-euthanasia activists)
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
1100 West Wells Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
Telephone: (414) 289-0170
(A Catholic anti-defamation and civil rights organization defending
religious freedom and free speech rights of Catholics and others)
Christian Attorneys Supporting Evangelism (CASE)
Post Office Box 450349
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
A group of Christian attorneys working on pro-life cases, including
the recent Bray decision, headed by Jay Sekulow.
Christian Legal Defense and Education Foundation
Post Office Box 1088
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Telephone: (703) 818-7150
Christian Legal Society (CLS)
Center for Law and Religious Freedom
Post Office Box 1492
Merrifield, Virginia 22116
Telephone: (703) 560-7314
(Founded in 1961, the CLS is an association of 4,000 judges,
attorneys, law professors, and law students that defends the freedoms
of speech and association)
Concerned Women for America (CWA)
122 C Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: (202) 628-3014
(Among other activities, CWA defends religious freedom and the right
to free speech)
Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
Post Office Box 618
Alton, Illinois 62002
Telephone: (618) 462-5415
Free Speech Advocates (FSA)
Post Office Box 815
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Life Civil Liberties Union Defense Fund
Post Office Box 1423
Novato, California 94948
Telephone: (415) 898-1051
A legal fund for pro-lifers jailed or fined for rescues.
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
Contact your local Right to Life chapter addresses and phone numbers
are listed in Chapter 20 of Volume I, "Pro-Life
Organizations." (Sponsors community, legislative, and political
action to change liberal abortion, infanticide and euthanasia laws).
Pro Bono Legal Work.
Virtually all large law firms donate a certain percentage of their
labor to social causes. This is known as pro bono work.
Some pro-life activists may be tempted to approach large local law
firms for help if they are the victims of pro-abortion harassment
lawsuits, but be warned: Most (but not all) of the large law firms are
very elitist, and almost all elitist organizations are rotten and
pro-abortion to their very core. Their hypocrisy and inconsistency is
astounding, and not at all what one would expect from a 'professional'
An Example RICO Case.
Daniel Grimm is an attorney who represented several members of the
Northern California chapter of Operation Rescue who were charged with
criminal trespass for a 1988 rescue. He approached Patrick Finley at
Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro and Stephen Snyder at Brobeck, Phleger,
and Harrison (these two law firms have a total of 850 lawyers working
full-time). Finley and Snyder agreed to aid in the representation of the
After intense debate on the pro bono boards of both firms, the
free representation was approved. Immediately, more than 50 Brobeck
members signed a protest petition saying that "due to the highly
emotional nature of the debate over reproductive rights, it would be
inappropriate" to represent either side in the abortion
When someone pointed out that Brobeck had already done plenty
of pro bono work for Planned Parenthood, owner of the nation's
largest chain of abortion mills, the protest petitioners backpedalled
and squawked that the rescuers were "trying to clog the court
It was strange that the petitioners didn't mind at all the tens of
thousands of hours donated to Ted Bundy as he clogged up the court
system for a decade. The two law firms mentioned above also represented
Black Panthers and violent groups that opposed United States actions in
Nicaragua. There was not a whisper of complaint from members of the
firms for these actions.
Significantly, Ed Kallgren, one of Brobeck's partners, had sat on the
board of Planned Parenthood's East Bay chapter.
This case is not at all unusual. A crescendo of complaints from its
lawyers forced the Washington firm of Williams & Connolly to
withdraw its name on February 24, 1989 from an amicus brief
urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
So don't be fooled into thinking that pro bono work is done
for worthy social causes. The truth is, of course, that it is done only
for acceptable (that is, Neoliberal) social causes.
Most if not all of the larger law firms are deeply committed to
abortion, and contribute millions of dollars worth of free legal work to
the abortionists annually. Most of the RICO suits brought around the
country against pro-life activists won't cost the clinics a penny,
because all services are being donated.
But let a pro-lifer even try to get donated legal services
from a large firm, and he or she may very well be laughed back out onto
Still, pro bono work contributed by large law firms is an
option that pro-lifers simply cannot afford to ignore.
 National Review, October 15, 1990, page 12.
 Quote by Antonio Califa of the American Civil Liberties Union at
the October 18, 1989 Conference on RICO at the Cato Institute. Also
quoted by William Marshner. "Is RICO a Racket?" Family, Law
& Democracy Report, November 1989, page 10.
 Marlene Fried. "Pro-Choice Agendas After Webster."
Against the Current, November/December 1989, page 19.
 "Protect Abortion Rights!" Proletarian Revolution,
Fall 1989, pages 26 to 28 and 32.
 Charlotte Low Allen. "Pro-Bono Work for Abortion Foes
Divides Firms." The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 1989.
Further Reading: RICO.
Peter Megargee Brown. The Art of Questioning: Thirty Maxims of
MacMill Publishing Company, 866 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022.
Civil RICO Report.
Weekly update on the changing status and various uses of the Federal
and state RICO statutes. Order from Buraff Publications, 2445 M Street
NW, Washington, DC 20037. Telephone: (202) 452-7889.
Legal Briefs Bulletin.
Excellent periodical report on radical leftist groups and how they
take advantage of the court system to enact their agenda. Write to Legal
Affairs Council, Freedom Plaza, 14018-A Sunnyfield Circle, Chantilly,
© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111
This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published
by American Life League.