Christian Coalition Warns of 'Threat' to Pro-Life Protesters
July 7, 2008
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The group that bills itself as "the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America" is urging its members to contact their representatives in Congress about a threat to "the financial well-being of many peaceful pro-life protestors."
The Christian Coalition of America issued an action alert calling on its members to urge opposition to "pro-abortion" language put in the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act by pro-abortion Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
"The Schumer language is so intentionally vague, side-walk counselors at abortion facilities could be sued and forced to pay abortionists and their supporters settlement money," Coalition President Roberta Combs wrote Friday.
The amendment in question is contained in Title III, Section 328 of the Senate version of the bankruptcy bill and included in the Senate's conference report.
That proposal would prohibit bankruptcy protection for any debt "that results from any judgment, order, consent order, or decree entered in any Federal or State court, or contained in any settlement agreement entered into by the debtor, including any court-ordered damages, fine, penalty, citation, or attorney fee or cost owed by the debtor, arising from an action alleging the violation of any Federal, State, or local statutory law."
Pro-life groups fear abortion providers will file multi-million dollar lawsuits against people who protest peacefully outside abortion clinics, knowing that the protesters do not have the money to afford attorneys to fight the suits. Opponents of the Schumer proposal believe abortionists could win default judgments against pro-lifers, use the provision to keep them from filing bankruptcy, and then confiscate their assets to pay "damages" and attorneys' fees.
"Non-violent pro-lifers could be compelled to send checks to Planned Parenthood for the rest of their lives," Combs warned. "This would be an absolute revulsion to them and to others who support them."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner received a letter opposing the provision from 58 of his colleagues prior to the committee's approval of the House conference report.
"It is essential the bill come back to the House free of the extraneous language that Senator Schumer is proposing," the members wrote. "Bankruptcy reform legislation should focus on the needs of those who require protection from creditors and the needs of financial institutions that have extended credit to individuals who are able to pay."
An additional paragraph was added to the report intended to appease pro-life opponents of the Schumer proposal:
"Nothing in [this amendment] shall be construed to affect any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
Combs called the modification ineffective.
"The bankruptcy bill should not be used as a political vehicle to continue a vendetta against some peaceful protestors," she added. "It should be an abortion-neutral bill."
She asked the coalition's members and supporters to contact their representatives and express their concerns about the proposal.
Sen. Schumer's press office informed CNSNews.com Monday afternoon that the senator's communications director would be "pretty much unreachable" until Friday and they would, therefore, be unable to respond to a request for an interview regarding this report.
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