James F. Holderman

Judge rules abortion clinics can't use antitrust, RICO laws to halt protests

WASHINGTON -- A nationwide effort by abortion clinics and women's rights activists to use two federal laws to stop anti-abortion protests has failed in a major court case in Chicago.

U.S. District Judge James F. Holderman ruled that protesters seeking to shut down clinics across the country are not subject to federal antitrust law and a 1970 federal law against economic racketeering.

His ruling, issued Tuesday and made available here yesterday, ended for the time being a five-year courtroom battle that both sides -- clinics and demonstrators -- had viewed as a wide-ranging test of federal law as a shield around clinics.

The National Organization for Women, which filed...