Court to Rule on Anti-Abortion Group

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THE Supreme Court Monday agreed to decide the legality of a permanent injunction against members of the group Operation Rescue for blocking access to abortion clinics in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. The court will review a decision of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which held the anti-abortion group violated the right to travel of a class of women seeking abortions in the Washington area.

Operation Rescue had asked the high court to hear the case, arguing that women seeking abortions could not legally be a ``class'' of people for the requirements of federal law.

The 2nd United States Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New York, also has held that blocking access to abortion clinics that serve an interstate clientele violates the constitutional right to travel, an issue the justices may focus upon.

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According to federal district court in Alexandria, Va., whose opinion the 4th Circuit affirmed, as many as 30 percent of the women obtaining abortion-related services at one Virginia clinic came from the District of Columbia or Maryland.

The district court's injunction threatens members of Operation Rescue with a $1,500 fine and imprisonment for contempt-of-court for ``trespassing on, blockading, impeding or obstructing access to or egress from'' the abortion clinics.

But the district court refused, on First Amendment grounds, a request from the National Organization for Women to extend the injunction to include a ban on activities that can ``intimidate, harass, or disturb patients or potential patients.''

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