Two Catholic priests and four pro-life advocates who simultaneously entered abortion centers to talk to women scheduled for abortions were arrested weeks ago. In each instance they refused to leave the clinics when told to do so by law enforcement and offered an act of non-violent defense of unborn children about to be aborted.
Now, they have gone free.
Once inside the clinics, small teams of pro-lifers peacefully approached mothers seated in the waiting rooms and offered them red roses as a symbol of life. Attached to each rose was a card which on one side read,”You were made to love and to be loved … Your goodness is greater than the difficulties of your situation. Circumstances in life change. A new life, however tiny, brings the promise of unrepeatable joy.” The card also contained phone numbers of local pregnancy help centers.
These rescues did not involve the blockading of abortion center entrances or procedure rooms. When police officers arrived on the scene, pro-lifers attempted to continue conversation with women or sat on the floor praying quietly or singing hymns until they were placed under arrest, organizers said.
Today, Fr. Stephen Imbarrato associated with Priests for Life, Fr. Fidelis Moscinski of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal with pro-life veteran Joan Andrews Bell, Julia Haag, Bonnie Borel Donahue and Joan McKee are free.
Appearing in Alexandria General District Court before Judge Donald Paddock the pro-life activists walked free having received a mere $500 suspended fine. The penalty will be waived as long as the pro-lifers do not trespass at the same abortion clinic for a period of one year.
Monica Migliorino Miller of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, who participated in the Red Rose Rescue in Michigan, told LifeNews she was pleased by the decision.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of the trial. God has been good and merciful. Yes, we know that the guilty verdict is unjust—unjust really for the babies who have a right to be defended—but the leniency of the penalty is still very, very encouraging,” she said. “We hope that many others will be inspired to do Red Rose Rescues. Ideally we cannot count the cost in the charity that is owed to the poor and defenseless among us.”
The pro-lifers arrested at the Alexandra, VA clinic were represented by Attorney Chris Kachouroff who informed the judge that the pro-lifers would not pay any fines nor agree to any conditions that the court might seek to impose.
Father Fidelis Moscinski told presiding Judge Paddock that in conscience he could not pay any fines as he considers such a penalty unjust since “there should be no penalty at all for those who seek to defend the lives of others.”
Furthermore he stated: “I consider this Court’s judgment of me as ‘guilty’ invalid and therefore any subsequent incarceration illegal.”
Joan Andrews Bell has participated in dozens of rescues and spent over two years in a Broward County, FL prison for her 1986 rescue at a Pensacola, FL clinic. The Alexandra County prosecutor argued that Bell should be sentenced more harshly than the other Red Rose Rescuers due to her “criminal record”. Paddock declined to treat Bell any differently.
Monica Miller told LifeNews that the pro-life advocates should understand that no one who defended unborn children in the September 15th Red Rose Rescue has been charged with the federal law of Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
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Fr. Imbarrato states: “If nothing else comes of the Red Rose Rescues—this alone would be a great victory for the babies and the pro-life movement—that this type of rescue is “FACE proof.” The FACE law passed by Congress in 1994, with possible consequences of federal prison time may not be applicable to the Red Rose Rescue as this rescue does not involve the blockading of clinic doors—no one’s ingress and egress is prevented.” Furthermore, thus far there have been no state or local city initiatives to pass buffer zones as a consequence of the Sept.15th rescue.”
Miller said “Those involved in the Red Rose Rescue talked to women scheduled for abortions, extending to them words of encouragement and offering material help. In addition to reaching out to the mothers, the rescuers chose to remain in the clinic as an act of solidarity with the unborn children scheduled to be killed by abortionists, while a support team assembled outside—sidewalk counselors and those in prayer support.”
Miller explains: “The Red Rose Rescue is an act of charity for women who feel, for whatever reason, that they must abort their innocent unborn children. Those who perform the rescues are willing to embrace risks for these women and their babies. They will go into the very places where the unborn are put to death and extend help to the moms. Should this help be refused—they will not leave the abortion centers but remain in solidarity with the helpless victims oppressed by the injustice of abortion. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that her work was ‘to go into the dark holes of the poor.’ The Red Rose Rescue is an action of going into the dark holes of the poor—namely abortion centers where the innocent are rejected—and in these dark holes we seek to bring hope, true peace and the presence of God.”