In 1994, abortion-lobby champion Ted Kennedy passed the Free Access to Clinics Act (FACE), which imposes stricter limitations on peaceful protests of abortion clinics than any other peaceful protest.
This law, which strikes me as pretty darn unconstitutional, has never really been enforced. Tom McClusky at the Family Research Council says the decision to not enforce it was a "gentleman's agreement": "The story I normally got from Justice Department, Hill and real world lawyers on both sides of the aisle was that everyone understood the law was unconstitutional...."
But now, NPR reports, Obama is deciding to crack down on those protesting, conducting sidewalk counseling, or even praying for the mothers and their babies.
Here's NPR's report on one of the Obama Administration's targets:
A few blocks from the White House, outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington, D.C., Dick Retta has reported for duty in a blue windbreaker, khaki pants belted high and brown shoes with thick soles. He's carrying rosary beads and a packet of brochures filled with information about the dangers of abortion.
"Please don't let them take your child's life. You don't have to. We can and will help you. Don't let them take your child's life. Let us help you," Retta says to a woman entering the clinic.
That front door shuts in his face. But Retta says he's not deterred by that, or by a civil lawsuit the Justice Department filed against him in July. Authorities claim Retta violated the FACE Act by blocking a patient early this year — following her for 35 feet and standing in front of the door.
Retta disputes the allegations.
"We don't block women from coming in. That's not our policy," he says. "I teach it. I teach what I'm doing ... and I say one thing: Never block the women from going in. Never."
Retta, who has seven children and 11 grandkids, says he is moved by his Catholic faith to do what he calls sidewalk counseling. Retta says he has gotten pushed around outside the clinic, too. He says he was standing by the gate and a woman sprayed him with pepper spray in July, putting him "out of commission" for a while.
None of this is surprising.
This President, as a State Senator, voted against a bill requiring doctors to care for babies born after failed abortions (and then misled the media on the matter). As a candidate, he promised his first act would be signing the sweeping "Freedom of Choice Act," which would wipe out nearly all limitations on abortion and abortion subsidies. And then during the budget debates we saw him draw nearly his only line in the sand over Planned Parenthood subsidies.
It's abortion absolutism. Everything else -- free assembly, free speech, conscience protection, and his party's other interests -- they all take a back seat to protecting abortion.