Linda Thompson explains Joseph Sheidler non-abortion suit
From : Linda Thompson 26-Jun-91 00:30:00
To : All 28-Jun-91 09:15:14
Subj.: National coverage
For those who asked (thanks), a case I have pending is receiving national
coverage. We got bumped from Good Morning America to sometime next week
(or maybe never, I've been through this drill before. . .) but in the
meantime, other coverage continues.
The case stands to be *the* case to directly confront the SCT with Roe
v. Wade and it is a terrifically interesting scenario.
Pleadings are filed in State and Federal district court.
Margie Pitts Hames, the attorney who successfully sued Doe v. Bolton (the
Ga. companion case to Roe v. Wade) has agreed to come on as co-counsel
with me in the state claims.
Jack Batson, another renowned civil rights attorney, and Ron Rosenberg
have joined the team on the federal claims.
My client is a young married woman who became pregnant and asked her doctor
to perform an AFP test on her first visit with the doctor. This is a
blood test that screens for neural tube defects and Down's Syndrome and is
routinely performed in obstetrical offices nowadays anyway. The doctor
annotated her records indicating that the test would be done. She told
him in no uncertain terms that if the baby was likely to be deformed or
retarded, she wanted an abortion. Bloodwork was drawn, labtests were
done, client was told her "tests were normal" (throughout the pregnancy).
She had a Down's syndrome baby and it turns out the AFP test was never done.
It gets "better."
The doctor is a rabbid anti-abortionist. He doesn't do abortions, doesn't
believe in abortions, and doesn't make referrals for abortions. (None
of which he disclosed to my client). He is one of ten doctors, who, in
conjunction with Pro-Life Action League, headed by Joseph Scheidler out
of Chicago, made a movie called "Meet the Abortion Providers." It's a movie
of doctors who formerly did abortion, but "got religion" and now do speaking
engagements and otherwise work against abortion. This movie is advertised
by Pro-Life Action league as being designed to "convert" doctors performing
abortions and the ads urge readers to "nominate their local abortionist"
and "feel free to send in more than one name" to receive this movie,
unsolicited. This doctor formerly ran an abortion mill and publicly claims
to have performed more than 32,000 abortions prior to his "religious
Pro-Life Action league or its various leaders, have been sued and enjoined
in several states, sometimes by cities themselves, for illegal and tortious
interference with women attempting to enter abortion clinics and doctors
who perform abortions.
The state claims are for fraud, breech of contract, defamation (not covered,
above), and malpractice.
The federal claims are 1985(3) and RICO claims against the doctor, a
midwife, Pro-Life Action League and Joseph Sheidler, alleging that these
persons conspired to deprive my client of her Constitutional rights to
self-determine her own medical treatment, freedom of religion, privacy,
As the coverage grows, we are hearing from others and it looks like, sadly,
this may not be an isolated instance.
This suit also dramatically illustrates the tragic effect that the
Supreme Court's decision in Rust v. Sullivan (doctors can no longer say
the "A" word at federally funded (Title X) facilities) will have because
doctors are duty bound, ethically, to tell a pregnant woman her
options, but can't, just like this doctor didn't.
One does not need to be "for abortion" to be opposed to these tactics
employed by people waving a banner of religious fervor as some sort of
talisman in the face of the Constitution.
If it were the Ku Klux Klan, organized and funded by a national network
of churches, selectively interfering with black people's rights to determine
their medical treatment or practice their own religious beliefs, there
would be no issue -- it would be cut and dried. This is no different.
P.S. If you are interested in assisting directly or indirectly in this
case, please contact me at 317-881-2705 (voice), Fido node 1:231/110,
BBS (317) 881-2743.
[If you are interested in arguing about pro-choice v. no-choice, take
it to the debate or politics echo.]