Merle Hoffman, the woman that Forbes dubbed the “Millionaire Abortionist,” told a federal court in New York that, “Women know what abortion is,” when she testified on February 15 against a group of pro-life Christian sidewalk counselors.
The life advocates, ten of whom are members of [email protected] in Brooklyn, have been slapped with a federal harassment lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The charges have been brought against these peaceful witnesses for life for offering abortion-bound women information on life-affirming alternatives. The sidewalk counselors are represented by the Thomas More Society, whose legal defense of them is rooted in their Constitutionally guaranteed rights. The trial in People v. Griepp et al, which began February 12, will resume at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday, February 21.
Hoffman, 71, has performed abortions since 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade became law. She runs the for-profit Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica-Queens, New York, where the sidewalk counselors who are on trial have been witnessing for life.
Lawyers questioned Hoffman about her public references to pro-life advocates as “bullies” and the “American Taliban,” which she attempted to justify by comparing Taliban “misogyny and fundamentalism” to the religious beliefs of the sidewalk counselors outside of her clinic.
Hoffman quipped that, “Justice costs money,” when attorneys implied that she was using the government to fight a case from which her clinic would benefit. Hoffman’s abortion facility is estimated to see about 50,000 women a year and in 2016 generated a reported $10 million in revenues.
Attorneys shared an email from Hoffman to Assistant Attorney Generals Sandra Pullman and Nancy Trasande, as well as Choices colleague Mary Lou Greenberg, in which she said the protesters had been “particularly aggressive — they need to be bridled!”
“What I see outside,” Hoffman said, “I see that as a type of terrorism, yes, a type of terrorism toward the patients, definitely.”
Schneiderman claims that clients of Hoffman’s clinic have been harassed and groped by protesters, who Hoffman said she had heard had been “out of control.”
News accounts of Hoffman’s testimony in People v. Griepp et al reported that the abortion facility owner appeared visibly irritated throughout much of her testimony, sighing loudly and tapping her fingernails on the witness stand.
Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, is defending these peaceful sidewalk counselors against the vague and unfounded charges of harassment. While he asserts that the claims are baseless and solely intended to discourage any opposition to abortion, he is also aware of the far-reaching implications of the outcome of this trial.
“The rights we are guaranteed under the United States Constitution and First Amendment are on trial here,” Cannon stated. “Pro-life speech is protected speech, regardless of the New York Attorney General’s personal opinions about abortion.”
Schneiderman’s support of the abortion industry is well publicized. In April 2017, he openly opposed any defunding of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, proclaiming, “I was proud to lead a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief against the Ohio state law that would defund Planned Parenthood.”
An October 2017 New York Attorney General press release shared Schneiderman’s personal saga of longtime promotion of abortion: “When I was 17, I graduated from high school — but I didn’t go straight to college. Instead, I went to work at an abortion clinic in Washington, DC – the year before Roe v. Wade.” He then went on to equate the ability to obtain an abortion with being “truly equal” and “truly free.”