March/April, 1999 Volume XIII Number 5

Bye-bye First Amendment

by Joseph Farrah

If not reversed on appeal, a $107 million judgment against anti-abortion activists in Portland sounds the death-knell for the First Amendment in America.
The same week a federal court threw out a case against Internet pornographers, a U.S. judge ordered pro-lifers to pay restitution to abortionists who felt "threatened" by their rhetoric.
And what was their rhetoric? Oh, that's not the point. Even the complainants, who make their living destroying unborn children, concede there were no actual or overt threats made by the defendants. It's one of those deals where they, you know, contribute to the climate of violence surrounding the explosive issue of abortion.
So, let me get this straight: Pro-lifers aren't permitted to assemble peacefully outside clinics and counsel women against abortion. Injunctions and federal laws restrict such rights of assembly. When they resort to civil disobedience, police break arms and legs while carting them off to jail and judges slap them with exorbitant fines. And now, just speaking out against the practices of abortionists is liable to cost you every tangible asset you have accumulated in life or ever will.
Tell me what kind of activity such laws and judgments foster? That's right.
The only course left for opponents of abortion is extremism and violence.
That seems to be what legislators, judges and abortion advocates are promoting.
I can't think of any other business in America today that gets the kind of "protection" the abortion industry gets.
I hear people every day attack the tobacco industry for killing children.
Yet, I've never seen a successful suit against any of these cigarette critics. "Consumer advocate" Ralph Nader made a name for himself telling us the auto industry was intentionally killing people for profit. We all assume that his overheated hyperbolic rhetoric is protected by the First Amendment.
Animal rights wackos accuse the meat industry of "murdering" innocent animals. I'm unaware of any multimillion judgment against such speech. Even when movie star Alec Baldwin urges television viewers to rise up, march on Washington and stone Rep. Henry Hyde and his family to death for his role in impeaching President Clinton, there is no cost associated with his inflammatory words.
Nor do I wish to see any of that - as much as I might passionately disagree with those irresponsible claims.
But abortion protesters are beneath the law, undeserving of constitutional protections. They are being systematically marginalized by decisions like this in a way that threatens not just their First Amendment rights, but all of our First Amendment rights.
It seems so obvious. Yet, the American Civil Liberties Union is yet to be heard from on this case - or dozens of other judgments involving lesser fines. In fact, the most visible civil liberties organization in America has frequently sided with the abortion industry and against those simply expressing their views.
The ACLU has apparently decided that the "right to abortion," which nowhere appears in the Constitution, is a greater right than free expression - a right championed by the ACLU even when exercised by people as despicable as Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois.
This case was not a close call, friends. This judgment should be protested by every freedom-loving American. It must be overturned. It must be repudiated. It must never be permitted to happen again. Sanctions should be imposed on the poor excuse for a judge, and those who brought the action in the first place should be required to copy the Bill of Rights a thousand times on a blackboard.
What's so scary about this decision is the lack of outrage over it. These are not clinic bombers who have had their rights trampled upon. They are not murderers. They are not even advocates of killing abortionists. They are merely people who are expressing their heartfelt convictions about a procedure considered universally abominable only a generation ago.
America - where are you? What have you become? Why do you tolerate - even celebrate - a lawbreaker in the White House who believes in nothing but his own empowerment and condemn those who do nothing but champion innocent human life?
If this verdict stands, every person of conscience - no matter how they view the abortion debate - is a target for retribution and financial ruin.
It's abortion protesters today. Who will be next?

"Now I've got'cha!"
Bye-bye First Amendment
Glaring hypocrisy: Is the pro-abortion crowd blind or brain-dead?