Franciscan friar gets 6 months in jail for blocking New York abortion clinic entrance

abortion protest Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR) is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. | Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Catholic priest and pro-life activist Father Fidelis Moscinski, CFR, has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for blocking access to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility by placing locks and chains on the gated entrance. 

Judge Steven Tiscione laid down the six-month sentence, which is the maximum available for the specific crime. Moscinski was found guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which imposes harsh penalties for obstructing access to an abortion facility or a pregnancy center.

“My actions … were done because Planned Parenthood as an organization is in the business of killing,” Moscinski told the judge while asking for a lenient sentence, according to his remarks provided by the pro-life organization Red Rose Rescue. 

Although the priest is a member of Red Rose Rescue, the organization has emphasized that his effort to block access to an abortion clinic was not sanctioned by the group. Red Rose Rescue said members can engage in pro-life activism outside of their organization, but they are a sole agent when doing so. 

“Every procured abortion that occurs on [Planned Parenthood’s] premises constitutes the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” Moscinski continued in his statement to the judge. “Furthermore, these bloody and violent acts also cause grave spiritual and psychological harm to the mother of the child. All of my actions then and now are directed solely towards preventing the murder of defenseless children and the wounding of their mothers.”

The Franciscan friar also criticized the FACE Act.

“This pseudo-law seeks to cloak the act of killing preborn children under the euphemistic and Orwellian language of ‘reproductive health care,’” Moscinski said. “I am not guilty of violating this law because this law cannot be seen as anything other than null and void since it attempts to give legal protection to actions which are intrinsically evil and unjust.”

Moscinski asked Tiscione to “somewhat mitigate the injustice this court has perpetrated” by providing him the most lenient sentence possible. Instead, the judge handed him the most severe sentence and cited his previous arrests for pro-life activism as his justification for the sentence.

The priest’s pro-life activism occurred on the morning of July 7, 2022, at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York clinic in Hempstead, New York. He effectively shut down the clinic for about two hours by placing locks and chains on the entrance and covering some of them with glue, according to the Department of Justice.

Once the fire department and police department cut through the locks, Moscinski laid down in front of the entrance to prevent cars from entering the gate, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Moscinski has previously been arrested for his pro-life activism, but this is the first time he has been found guilty of violating the FACE Act. Last year, he was arrested for trespassing in an abortion clinic after entering the facility in protest and refusing to leave when ordered by staff and then by police. 

Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Red Rose Rescue that seeks to bar Moscinski and other members of Red Rose Rescue from going within 30 feet of an abortion clinic. Even though Moscinski’s FACE Act violation was not part of a Red Rose Rescue, the attorney general cited that incident as one of the incidents to justify the lawsuit.

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