Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic

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  • Fairness in the Courts
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Anti-Choice Violence
  • Authored Amicus Brief
1993

Determined whether anti-abortion protesters who obstruct access to abortion clinics violate 42 U.S.C. 1985(3).

Summary of the Case

Determined whether anti-abortion protesters who obstruct access to abortion clinics violate 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), a law which prohibits conspiracies to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." The case was heard in a climate of escalating attacks on abortion clinics and widespread blockades of clinic entrances,

Decision

The Supreme Court ruled that a federal statute prohibiting private conspiracies to deprive persons of civil rights cannot be used to stop conspiracies to close abortion clinics. The Court reasoned that preventing women from obtaining abortions does not show antagonism towards women, but only towards abortion. The outcome galvanized support for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a federal law that since 1994 has drastically reduced violence and street harassment at reproductive health facilities while still allowing peaceful protests.