May 17, 2001
Re: "Molinari, Oddo Back Island Priest" (April 26, 2001).
I have been criticized for speaking out against the Rev. Frank Pavone and the activities of Priests for Life (PFL). However, it appears that none of my critics have bothered to call me, read the report by the Institute for Democracy Studies on which I based my comments, or even visit the PFL website.
Had they done any of the above, they would have discovered that Pavone openly encourages acts of criminal trespass against abortion clinics, stating that "breaking a law of trespass to prevent killing is perfectly justified in this and other circumstances."
Pavone's frequent claims that he rejects violence against abortion providers also ring hollow. A glance at the record of violent acts committed against doctors, nurses, patients and clinics in the last ten years shows that the anti-abortion movement is the most violent movement in contemporary America. Hundreds of people have been assaulted, dozens of clinics have been vandalized, bombed and burned. Seven people have been murdered. Rather than condemn such acts and the people who commit them, Pavone has made it his mission to embrace all factions of the anti-abortion movement, acknowledging their contribution to the movement.
The PFL website states that the organization is "deeply committed to the unity of the pro-life movement and to active cooperation among groups ... every group is important and of critical value to the effort to end abortion "... we do not believe that disagreements are reasons to stop us from working together..." (Emphasis theirs)
Pavone is truly inclusive. PFL's website and newsletters have featured extremists like Joseph Scheidler (found guilty in 1998 of a "broad range of acts and threats of physical violence"); Mark Crutcher (author of "Firestorm: A Guerilla Strategy for a Pro-Life America"), and Father Thomas Carleton (who signed a statement after the murder of David Gunn proclaiming, "we assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children").
Pavone, as the national leader of a movement, has a moral obligation to use his power and influence to stop the violence of the anti-abortion movement.
To those who believe it is their duty to kill doctors to prevent abortions, Pavone's $50,000 "reward fund" means little. His continued words of encouragement of extremism mean everything.
State Sen. Eric T. Schneiderman
[The writer represents the 30th Senatorial District (Manhattan-Bronx) in the New York State Senate.]