Thomas More Society Attorneys Defending Peaceful Pro-Life Advocates Against Baseless FACE Act Charges
(June 21, 2023 – New York, NY) A group of peaceful pro-life advocates sits in the crosshairs of the Attorney General of New York, who has filed baseless charges against the group for alleged violations of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Thomas More Society attorneys are defending the advocates, who call themselves the Red Rose Rescue, against Attorney General Letitia James’ efforts to penalize the group for exercising their First Amendment rights to speak against abortion.
The lawsuit filed June 8, 2023, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that when Fr. Fidelis (Christopher) Moscinski, Matthew Connolly, William Goodman, Laura Gies, John Hinshaw, and other unnamed individuals participated in peaceful sit-ins at several abortion facilities, they violated the FACE Act and the state’s equivalent New York Clinic Access Act.
Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Christopher Ferrara explained why these charges are false and unfounded.
“Neither FACE nor the New York Clinic Access Act prohibit peaceful, non-violent activity like sit-ins, but are targeted against the use of force, threats of force, or physical obstruction in order prevent access to abortion facilities,” Ferrara stated. “In the case of Fr. Moscinski and the others charged, women had already accessed the abortion providers and were sitting in the waiting room. These life advocates sat with them and attempted to peacefully persuade them that they need not go ahead with the destruction of their unborn children.”
The suit characterizes peaceful, non-violent sit-ins at local abortion businesses as being a violation of laws meant to counter threats and obstruction, according to Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Stephen Crampton.
“These charges are another example of governmental overreach regarding the non-existent ‘constitutional right’ to abortion, which the United States Supreme Court has now made clear in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, was plucked from thin air by the court’s former majority in Roe v. Wade,” said Crampton.
That overreach, according to Crampton, has been evidenced in the headline making stories of Mark Houck, Paul Vaughn, and other peaceful pro-life advocates arrested by the FBI at gunpoint for alleged FACE Act violations.
“The defendants in this case have done nothing more than sit quietly in the waiting rooms of places where human beings are about to be killed in the womb for profit,” Crampton related. “They offer roses to abortion bound women and share with them literature on life-affirming alternatives to abortion. In many situations, these expectant mothers are under duress, and our defendants offer them an opportunity to back away from a decision they could regret for the rest of their lives.”
New York’s attorney general is no friend to those who view abortion as wrong and who seek to offer help to abortion-minded women. Upon her election to succeed Barbara Underwood, who was appointed to replace the disgraced Eric Schneiderman, James became New York’s third consecutive attorney general to doggedly pursue prosecution of previously vindicated pro-life advocates from a Brooklyn church. James continued to seek convictions for fictitious threats and violence toward abortion clientele and providers, despite a total absence of evidence against the accused, and proof of false testimony by the state’s witnesses, in People v. Griepp.
“While this suit against Fr. Moscinski and the others is essentially pointless,” noted Crampton, “it does provide a vehicle for us to challenge the ever-broadening misapplication of FACE and its New York equivalent to try to prohibit constitutionally protected activity.”
Ferrara affirmed the commitment, declaring, “We will defend these pro-life advocates aggressively against yet another abuse of FACE and the New York Clinic Access Act.”
Read the lawsuit filed June 8, 2023, in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by New York Attorney General Letitia James against pro-life advocates defended by the Thomas More Society in People of the State of New York v. Red Rose Rescue, et al. here.