Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (F.A.C.E.) Act – est. 1994

By the 1990s, controversy and battle of abortion and contraception politics have been building up for centuries. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, prohibiting the force, threat of force, or physical obstruction from an individual providing or receiving abortions.

This U.S. law prohibits the following:

  1. The use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any persons who is obtaining reproductive health services or providing reproductive health services
  2. The use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is exercising or trying to exercise their First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship
  3. The intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility or a place of worship

The following are not prohibited: – because of the First Amendment

  • Protesting outside of clinics
  • Distributing literature
  • Carrying signs
  • Shouting (as long as no threats are made)
  • Singing hymns

The F.A.C.E. act is not as commonly known, but it has had a great significant role in our freedoms to organize publicly and peacefully. With the subject of abortion and contraception becoming increasingly controversial, it became time to settle a law regarding the organization/protest of people in the year 1994.

F.A.C.E. helped make clear of the legalities allowing individuals their freedom of both speech and access to abortion. It was in efforts to lessen the amounts of violence that had previously taken place in the decades and centuries prior circulating around the abortion controversy. The F.A.C.E. Act fell on both sides of the controversy, helping both ends and further organizing the two halves in a more peaceful manner.

According to the National Abortion Federation (NAF), between the years 1977 and 2009, “there have been at least 9 murders, 17 attempted murders, 406 death threats, 179 incidents of assault or battery, and 5 kidnappings committed against abortion providers. In addition, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 96 attempted bombings or arsons, 692 bomb threats, 1993 incidents of trespassing, 1400 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid (stink bombs).” It is crimes like these, and the amounts of which there are, that make the F.A.C.E. Acts valid.

While combining the protection of clinics, physicians, and patients along with religious freedoms, both left and right wing politics are compromised.

Sources:

  • “Civil Rights Division Freedom of Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and Places of Religious Worship.” Civil Rights Division Freedom of Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and Places of Religious Worship. United States Department of Justice, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/face.php&gt;.
  • “NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada.” Apr 2009. National Abortion Federation, Web. 22 Nov 2014.

Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973))

Photo of Norma McCorvey, a.k.a. Jane Roe.

Photo: Norma McCorvey (left) and lawyer (right) advocating

The famous Roe V. Wade case of 1973. The court decision that stuck down all state laws restricting abortion during a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy. Never once has a case been decided so much on religion, beliefs, ethics, and morality. It challenged a woman’s right to privacy and abortion laws across the United States.

At the time, two graduates of the University of Texas, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, brought on a case on behalf of Norma McCorvey (under alias as Jane Roe), a pregnant, unmarried woman arguing that the Texas law criminalizing most abortions unconstitutional. At the time, the Texas law had a restriction on all abortions other than those to save the life of the mother. The lawsuit was filed against the Dallas Country District Attorney, Henry Wade, and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled Texas law unconstitutional, and in violation of the 9th and 14th amendments in the Bill of Rights, those amendments protecting privacy of an individual.

And so Norma McCorvey won her case, but it was too late to go through with the abortion, for she was too far along in her pregnancy when the case was finally decided.

Up until this case, there were laws restricting abortion in almost every state and was greatly limited by law in several others. State laws limiting access during the second trimester were only upheld only when to preserve the health of the mother. Roe v. Wade is known for the legalization of abortion in the United States.

The Supreme Court found that a woman’s right to privacy deserves the highest level of protection and care, thanks to Roe v. Wade. The Court also, however, recognizes that the right to privacy is not absolute and assured and that each state has its own protection guarding maternal health.

The Roe v. Wade case may be the most famous and important reproductive rights case, and especially when studying abortion legal history. As one of the most debated cases in U.S. legal history, much criticism comes out of it. Tulane Law School Student Alex McBride suggests that, “To the political Right, critics accuse the Court in Roe of legalizing the murder of human life with flimsy constitutional justifications. To the Left, critics maintain that Roe was poorly reasoned and caused an unnecessary political backlash against abortion rights.” (McBride) To this day, many believe that this was a classic example of pure protection of an individual’s most basic human rights – that of privacy.

Sources:

Margaret Sanger & the 1920s Birth Control Movement

Photo: Margaret Sanger

In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, now known as Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is also known as the founder of modern day birth control and lead several roles in the 1920’s Birth Control and Reproductive Rights Movements.

The American Birth Control League held the following main principles:

We hold that children should be:

  1. Conceived in love;
  2. Born the mother’s conscious desire;
  3. And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health

Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.

This notable woman sacrificed a lot to stand up for women and what she believed in. In 1913 she wrote a column on sexual education in the local newspaper titled What Every Mother Should Know and What Every Girl Should Know, considered both an advice and informative column. Because of the Comstock laws established in 1873, she was jailed for her writings and beliefs and the story went viral, as did her popularity.

Considering the 1920s as a time of economic growth and success, there also laid the fact that the country had just recently came out of World War I. While the nation was still in the process of healing from war, there was a great amount of disapproval for many women’s rights movements in these years. Although Sanger and many other reproductive and women’s rights activists faced that amount of scorn, it was their famous courage and ambition that kept them and their supporters moving forward.

Sanger had her own beliefs and views about abortion in America that can be a bit complex. While she acknowledged it justifiable in certain cases, she also believed it should be a last resort and should be avoided as much as possible. Her main views and legacy at the time were directed towards contraception, not so much abortion. In one of her books Women and the New Race, she wrote, “while there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.” (Sanger)

And so although her view on abortion varied by situation, her push for the importance of contraception and sexual health gave birth to future reproductive justice ideas. Although the nation had just come out of the first Great War, she continued to advocate for women, contraception, and the rights of knowledge regarding the subject.

Sources:

  • “Birth control: What it is, How it works, What it will do”, The Proceedings of the First American Birth Control Conference, November 11, 12, 1921, pp. 207–8.
  • Margaret Sanger (1920). “Contraceptives or Abortion?”. Woman and the New Race.
    http://www.bartleby.com/1013/10.html