View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Supreme Court, RICO, and the Godmother

She looked up and down the street several times. Then she pulled up her collar, put on a hat that covered most of her face, and got out of the car.

She hunched over and rushed to the door of the Margaret Sanger Tea Room and Women’s Health Spa.

She hurrind in.

Several nervous looking women were seated at the tables. One young woman was crying as she pretended to read a magazine.

A song from k.d. lang's new album was playing on the sound system.

“Helpless, helpless, helpless…”

The security guard looked at the woman who had just come in, and nodded in recognition.

The receptionist also looked at her, then gestured with her head toward the back room door.

The woman went to the door, and knocked.

“Come in.”

She went in.

‘Ah, Consigliore Richards," a woman seated behind a large desk said. " Welcome. I am glad to see profits are up at Planned Parenthood. You are doing well.”

Richards rushed over to the woman, knelt, took her hand, and kissed her ring.

“Oh, Godmother, the news is bad.”

“It’s never that bad,” the Godmother said. She gestured toward the couch. “Sit”

Richards sat on the couch sinking into its depths.

A portrait of Margaret Sanger glowered down at her.

“Now, what is troubling you?” the Godmother said.

“The Supreme Court decision …,” Richards began.

“Yes. I am saddened by this,” the Godmother said. “The RICO decision takes away an important protection. We spent a fortune to keep it in force, but our people in Washington failed us.

“And now, the anti-choice fanatics can feel free to protest without fear of being charged with conspiracy.

“Yes, I had a long talk with Caporegime Nancy Keenan at NARAL. She, too, is upset.”

“But godmother, it could be worse,” Richards said.


“I will be blunt,” Richards said.

“We conspired to lie about the number of women who died from illegal abortions.

“We conspired to lie about Jane Roe getting pregnant by rape so we could get Roe v Wade through.

“We conspired to lie about Jane Doe wanting an abortion so we could get Doe v Bolton through.

“We conspired to change the language so that we got people to talk about choice and women’s health instead of about killing babies.

“We conspired to exaggerate the extent of anti-choice violence, and to downplay pro-choice violence.

“We conspired to lie about the vast amount of support provided to pregnant women and new mothers by anti-choice organizations.

“We conspired to lie about the physical and emotional effects of legal abortion, and to conceal the number of women who die from it.

“We conspired to lie about the nature of intact dilation and extraction, and worked to try to get the media to stop calling it partial-birth abortion.

“We conspired to lie about who Judge Roberts supported to try to derail his approval to the Supreme Court.

“I could go on. We’ve conspired to build an empire of lies.”

“Yes,” the Godmother said, “we have played loose with the truth. But look at how we have profited by it.”

“That’s my point,” Richards said. “Part of what RICO targets is extortion, profiting from conspiring together. The anti-choicers never profited. We did. So the RICO statute applies to us far more than it ever did the anti-choicers.

“My fear is that the anti-choicers will catch on and try to use RICO against us.”

The Godmother nodded.

“You are a wise consigliore,” the Godmother said. “We and Planned Parenthood are lucky to have you.”

The Godmother looked at the picture of Margaret Sanger for nearly a full minute.

“Yes, we must be proactive,” she finally said. “We must make sure we put some safety measures in place.”

She picked up the telephone and punched in some numbers. Richards could hear ringing, then a muffled voice at the other end.

“No time for pleasantries," the Godmother barked into the phone. “I want you to spread the word to all the operatives. Contribute to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”


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