Cranston Abortion

Cranston Abortion

This past weekend, I got a great treat.  I was alone in my house.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my family.  But I have to admit it was fun to just putter around the house, drinking wine at 1:00 in the afternoon, taking a nap, drinking wine at 5:00.  At one point, however, I found some old newspaper clippings and noticed an article about something I was involved in when I worked for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.

In the 1990’s the anti-abortion movement would hold massive demonstrations in front of abortion clinics.  It seemed like they could get hundreds of people at the drop of a hat to converge on a local facility.  They would march to the front door and sit down, preventing women from entering the clinic.  Of course, the clinic staff would immediately call the police but in conservative cities like Fort Wayne, Indiana or Birmingham, Alabama the police would just watch the demonstration.  That’s right – they would do absolutely nothing.  Hundreds of protestors were clearly trespassing but the police would just sit on their hands and let the demonstrators do their thing.  It was totally outrageous.

One day I was talking to a friend of mine who worked for Senator Alan Cranston of California and I told her about this problem we were having.  We started to think about how we could get local police to enforce the trespassing laws in those cities.  We came up with a brilliant idea.

In those days, just about every city in the country received “Community Development Block Grant” (CDBG) funds from the federal government.   These CDBG dollars were used for all kinds of projects:  to build affordable housing, construct new sewer lines, repair roads, etc.  Cities got millions and millions of these dollars (I know, those were the good ole days).

So, one night, when the U.S. Senate was in session Senator Cranston proposed an amendment to a bill saying in so many words that if the police did not do their job and arrest the trespassers, then that city would lose its CDBG funds.  Before the anti-abortion Senators knew what was going on, the amendment passed and ultimately became law.

The first thing we did was write a letter to every mayor of every major city in the country to tell them about this new law, just to put them on notice.  Our announcement caused an explosion around the country.  For example, within two days of the letter going out, I got a call from the Mayor of Philadelphia asking me about the new law.  No, that’s not entirely accurate.  What he actually said was “What the *%$)(#*@&% is this new law all about?   What the *#%()@#*%$# are you doing?”

After picking myself off the floor, I politely told him that he just had to make sure the police did their job and he would have nothing to worry about.  “*$()@*@(#%$,” he concluded and hung up the phone.  We never had a problem in Philadelphia again with protestors.

Also, whenever we heard about a demonstration that might take place, just to make sure I would call the Mayor of that city and warn him or her that they stood to lose a crap-load of money if the police ignored the protestors.  All of a sudden, police started making arrests in the most conservative of cities.

A lot of people are down on government.  They say there’s too much of it, it’s broken, keep it out of my face.  I get the argument.  But there are times like this one when government actually helped us guarantee that women would be able to exercise their constitutional right to have an abortion.

Is this a great country, or what?