Put Your Body on the Line: Civil Disobedience and Injunctions
55 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2010
Date Written: 1994
The issue of abortion is one of the most divisive facing American society today. Both sides include among their ranks people almost fanatically devoted to views that are themselves diametrically opposed: the supporters of unrestricted abortion see the question as one that cuts to the heart of women's rights and bodily autonomy. Those who support restrictions on or criminalization of abortion see the question as one of life and death. It is no wonder that in the context of this heated and seemingly unresolvable issue, civil disobedience has taken on renewed prominence as a form of political expression. The opponents of abortion have been using civil disobedience for several years to blockade health care clinics that provide, among other services, abortions. More recently, supporters of abortion rights have begun using civil disobedience symbolically to register their disapproval of Supreme Court and other political decisions regarding abortion by staging sit-ins and other demonstrations. At first glance, it would seem that the two groups engage in the same kind of civil disobedience and, thus, that they should be treated equivalently. As both a matter of law and policy, however, the two kinds of protest are different. This Note examines examples of civil disobedience from each camp and considers why and how the two should be distinguished.
Keywords: Pro-choice, political protest, anti-abortion, pro-life, civil liberties, Operation Rescue, Holland Tunnel blockade, collateral bar
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