April 24, 2001
By Kenny Byrd
WASHINGTON (ABP) -- The Supreme Court, without comment, declined April 16 to hear the appeal of New Jersey anti-abortion protesters challenging a federal law that guards access to clinics where abortions are performed.
The protestors argued that Congress overstepped its authority to regulate interstate commerce when it enacted the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The law bans the use of force, threats or blockades to interfere with access to reproductive health care, including abortions.
The New Jersey case involved three anti-abortion blockades during 1996 and 1997 outside a health clinic in Englewood, N.J. Police removed the protesters, and the federal government later sued people who participated in the protest.
A federal judge barred protesters from blocking access to the clinic and ordered them to pay $15,000 in damages.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, saying the clinic-access law was needed because a ''national movement'' of blockades had created a shortage of reproductive services.
Associated Baptist Press. Used with permission.