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Law

Justice Department sues anti-abortion activist

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kplu/local-kplu-957609.mp3

Federal prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to prevent an anti-abortion protester from blocking access to a medical clinic in Lynnwood.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice complaint, John C. Kroack walked into a Lynnwood health clinic on Jan. 7, 2010, became agitated as he talked about abortion and tried to force his way into one of the exam rooms. Prosecutors say a nurse had to hold her body against the door to keep him from breaking it down.

Kroack allegedly yelled, “You baby killers! You are all going to hell for being murderers.”

The court filing also says staff at the reproductive health center had to rush to a “safe room” until police came.

The government says Kroack violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The Act was passed by Congress in 1994 in response to escalating violence by anti-abortion activists. 

It bars people from "using force, the threat of force or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services."

If found guilty John C. Kroack, of Mountlake Terrace,  would be banned for life from the Lynnwood clinic and could have to pay a $10,000 fine.

In a statement about the lawsuit, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said,

"The law protects a patient's relationship with medical providers. They must have safe access to clinics and cannot be obstructed by unlawful force, threats or intimidation."

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division lawsuit comes in the wake of renewed debate over abortion.  House Republicans in Congress have made de-funding Planned Parenthood a priority. Planned Parenthood has mounted a counter offensive.

Nationwide, Christian opponents of abortion are holding vigils and conducting protests outside medical clinics in observance of Lent. The campaign, called 40 days to life, will last until Easter Sunday.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.