NEW YORK; A federal judge has acquitted two pro-life protesters who were charged with blocking access to a Westchester County abortuary.
Citing the protesters “conscience-driven religious beliefs,” Us. District Court Judge John Spizzo said the pair were not guilty of any crimes. The protesters, retired Catholic Auxilliary Bishop George Lynch and a Franciscan Brother Christopher Moscinki, could have been found guilty of contempt of court charges for ignoring a 1974 ruling protecting the entries and exits of abortuaries.
Judge Sprizzo invoked a 1970 Supreme Court decision which supported a conscientious objector to the Vietnam way. He said the protesters were motivated by a “sincere, genuine, objectively based religious convictions.” The rarely used privilege allows jurors to vote in defiance of an existing law if they believe it is wrong.
While pro-life supporters celebrated the acquittal, pro-abortionists called it “a scary decision.” The case was the first by the U.S. Court Southern District to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances ACT (FACE). The act has been challenged several times but has been upheld by federal appeals courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has to date declined to review the act.
The two defendants have been arrested more than 20 times for protesting outside abortuaries, often with members of Operation Rescue.
Under the law, the government can proceed against protesters either with a civil lawsuit, in which a judge can impose fines and order the behaviour to stop or criminal prosecution