A man was arrested Thursday and charged with illegally blocking access to a New York Planned Parenthood clinic that provides reproductive health services, including abortion.
Christopher Moscinski, 52, is accused of fastening padlocks and bicycle locks to the gated entrance of the Hempstead facility early July 7. Glue had been poured into some of the locks, according to court documents.
An attorney who is thought to be representing Moscinski could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
In charging documents, law enforcement officials say Moscinski returned to the health center in a religious robe and used his body to block vehicles from entering the parking lot until he was arrested.
Federal agents say that after his arrest, Moscinski spoke to the media about the incident, saying in a July 14 interview that he put “six locks and chains” on the clinic’s gates and that he lay in front of the gate “to try to keep that Planned Parenthood closed for as long as possible.”
Moscinski is serving a three-month state jail sentence for trespassing at an abortion clinic in White Plains, New York.
Samuel Mitchell, the chief operating officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said patients seeking care shouldn’t be harassed and intimidated.
“Over the years, we have witnessed anti-abortion extremists spew lies and use physical force to threaten our staff, bully our volunteers, and demoralize our patients. Nationwide attacks on abortion rights have fueled their vitriol,” Mitchell said in a statement. “We will not allow our communities to fall victim to extreme hate. … We will pursue every avenue of legal recourse to ensure the safety and security of patients, staff and volunteers.”
Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement that Moscinski prevented women from seeking health services they were legally entitled to.
“This office will enforce federal law to protect clinics and staff that provide reproductive health services while safeguarding the rights of their patients,” Peace said.
In 1994, Congress passed the FACE Act in response to an increase in violence toward patients and providers of reproductive health services, officials said. It prohibits violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate or interfere with a person’s right to seek, obtain or provide reproductive health services, officials said.
First-time convictions are misdemeanor violations punishable by up to a year in federal prison. Subsequent convictions, officials said, are felonies.
Chloe Atkins reports for the NBC News Investigative Unit, based in New York.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.