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University of Chicago Press




The right to choose abortion, although recently significantly curtailed from its original scope,' is a federally protected liberty interest of women, and is at least protected against the imposition of "undue burdens" by state and local government.2 Some of the most serious threats to women's ability to choose abortion have come not from government regulation, but from private, national, organized efforts to prevent abortions. In addition to seeking change through the political system, some of these organizations, most notably Operation Rescue, have focused on the providers of abortion, and have attempted to prevent abortions by forcibly closing abortion clinics and harassing and intimidating women and employees entering the clinics. These groups do not shy away from using illegal means to accomplish their goal.3 In Bray v Alexandria Women's Health Clinic,4 the Supreme Court rejected the consensus among lower federal courts5 that private conspiracies to blockade abortion clinics were subject to federal court injunctions under 42 USC § 1985(3),6 a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 187 1.7 Bray is the latest in a line of decisions that has rendered empty the fortysecond Congress's promise of federal court protection against organized groups who interfere with individuals attempting to exercise their federal constitutional rights.

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