The confrontational tactics of the Michigan-based pro-life group Red Rose Rescue have been met with a federal lawsuit from New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who accused the group’s activists of “terrorizing” patients and staff at abortion clinics in the state.
On June 8, James asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to prohibit members of the group from coming within 30 feet of abortion clinics in New York.
Obstructing or interfering with access to abortion clinics is illegal under both the U.S. Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, enacted in 1994, and the New York State Clinic Access Act. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14 other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws governing access.
The mission statement of Red Rose Rescue makes clear the group prioritizes physically occupying abortion clinics in order to save the lives of unborn children following principles of Christian nonviolence.
James’ statement called members of the group “bigoted zealots” who have lied to staff members at clinics by pretending to be patients in order to get in the doors. She also is seeking civil fines and damages.
“We will not allow Red Rose Rescue to harass and harangue New Yorkers with their outrageous militant tactics,” she said. “Make no mistake: abortion is health care, and as New York’s Attorney General, I will continue to protect and defend everyone’s legal right to safely access health care.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s statement said the actions of Red Rose Rescue go “far beyond free speech and free assembly; they specifically used force to stop others from accessing services.”
Incidents named in James’ lawsuit were at All Women’s Care in Manhasset, All Women’s Health in White Plains, and Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, New York, since 2021.
The Catholic Church opposes abortion because it holds that all human life is sacred from conception to natural death. However, the church also makes clear that all advocacy for justice must use only moral means, with St. John Paul II teaching in his 1993 encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” that a person cannot “intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order … even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.”
Red Rose Rescue did not respond to OSV News’ request for comment.
According to Red Rose Rescue’s mission statement, “A team of pro-lifers enter the actual places where the innocent unborn are about to be ‘dragged to death,'” making a reference to Proverbs 24:11.
“Red Rose Rescuers peacefully talk to women scheduled for abortion, with the goal of persuading them to choose life. They offer to them red roses as a sign of life, peace and love.”
“Should the unborn still ‘totter to execution,’ (referring to Proverbs) Red Rose Rescuers stay in the place of execution in solidarity with their abandoned brothers and sisters performing a non-violent act of defense through their continued presence inside the killing centers, remaining with them for as long as they can.”
Red Rose Rescue’s code of conduct states “those who participate in Red Rose Rescue will be peaceful, respectful, merciful, and loving at all times.” It also states those involved will neither plead guilty, nor pay fines, nor do community service, nor accept probation without a very serious personal reason, but will undertake imprisonment as an extension of their witness.
Father Fidelis Moscinski, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and member of Red Rose Rescue, is finishing up a jail term in Michigan. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 27 for his role in a demonstration at the Hempstead Planned Parenthood facility.
In that incident, according to James, Father Moscinski placed six industrial locks and chains on the front gates of the clinic, blocking the driveway into the parking lot and pedestrian access gates. When police removed the locks, Father Moscinski lay down in the driveway and had to be physically removed.
In May, Monica Migliorino Miller, a Red Rose Rescuer and director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, was released from jail after serving 34 days of a 45-day sentence for a 2022 demonstration in Southfield, Michigan.
“The jail time was filled with so many blessings,” Miller said in a statement upon her release. “We met two women who told us that they had actually given life to their children because of pro-life sidewalk counselors who talked them out of their scheduled abortions at local Detroit-area abortion centers.”
Red Rose Rescue’s tactics, however, are not shared by other pro-life groups that seek to advocate effectively for the lives of unborn children. The Texas-based Sidewalk Advocates for Life, which trains groups to give a life-affirming witness at abortion clinics, stresses “law-abiding sidewalk outreach” and to “peacefully share the truth in love.”
The group’s webpage affirms, “We comply with the law and act within the confines of our First Amendment rights as we share information.”
Its pledge of integrity, signed by all those who complete the training course, further states, “I will not threaten, assault, or verbally abuse any abortion-vulnerable woman or man, or any abortion facility employee or volunteer.”