CHICAGO ( - Pro-life and pro-abortion groups on Tuesday continued to react to Monday's guilty verdict in the racketeering lawsuit against Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Action League (PLAL), and their leaders, even as the court set a date for a hearing on a requested injunction order barring protest activities at clinics.

      PLAL director Joseph Scheidler, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said neither he nor his group had any money left to pay any of the damages, which could amount to millions of dollars, after paying the legal fees for their defense. "A million dollars, a billion dollars, a trillion dollars, the national debt -- they won't get it," he said. "You can't get blood from a turnip -- and we're turnips." Clinics in Milwaukee and Wilmington, Delaware, were awarded damages totaling $85,926.92, which will be tripled under federal racketeering law, and because this was a class-action lawsuit, other clinics could join in.

      Other pro-life leaders not involved in the lawsuit said on Tuesday they feared the judgement could backfire and bring forth a radical fringe to take up the protests. Father Richard Welch, president of Human Life International, "Our immediate concern is that it may bring more radical opposition elements to the forefront -- Christians who have no assets to lose and no fear of long jail terms or even the death penalty." Father Welch said he was heartened to learn that the Archdiocese of Chicago will participate in the appeal process. "That is where the Church belongs -- right at the forefront in protecting our religious and civil liberties in a court system that has now become a venue for the culture of death in America."

      The presiding judge in the case, US District Court Judge David Coar, set June 30 as the date for a hearing to determine if he should issue an injunction order against pro-life protesters from using a variety of tactics in abortion clinics demonstrations. The injunction, which will affect more than 1 million pro-lifers nationwide, will be aimed at prohibiting a more widespread set of activities than is already prohibited under federal law, which already bans blockades.

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April 23, 1998 volume 9, no. 79         DAILY CATHOLIC