Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing a group known for protesting at abortion clinics and is seeking a federal court decision blocking the group from going within 30 feet of any abortion clinics in the state.
James filed a lawsuit (pdf) against Red Rose Rescue (RRR) on Thursday in New York’s Southern Federal District Court.
In a press statement announcing the lawsuit, James’s office referred to the abortion protest group as a “militant” and “extremist group” with a reputation of “invading reproductive health care clinics, threatening staff and clinicians, and terrorizing patients.” Democratic New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow also referred to RRR as a “terrorist group.”
In addition to imposing a 30-foot buffer between RRR activists and abortion clinics, James is seeking a court order declaring past RRR protest actions violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. James is also requesting that RRR be made to pay statutory and compensatory damages for their various protests, along with civil penalties under the FACE Act.
“Red Rose Rescue has made it their mission to terrorize reproductive health care providers and the patients they serve,” James said. “Only we have the right to make decisions about our own bodies — not anti-choice legislators, and not bigoted zealots. We will not allow Red Rose Rescue to harass and harangue New Yorkers with their outrageous militant tactics.”
Protest Tactics and Arrests
On its website, RRR lists a code of conduct for its members that calls for them to be “peaceful, respectful, merciful, and loving at all times” and to “refrain from violence of any kind” or any profanity or yelling.
The abortion protest organization says its members “peacefully talk to women scheduled for abortion, with the goal of persuading them to choose life.”
“Should the unborn still ‘totter to execution’ 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,” the organization states.
While RRR describes its actions as nonviolent and peaceful, several Democratic New York State lawmakers joined James in characterizing the activists as a militant group.
“I am so grateful to Attorney General James for commencing this action against these most virulent and violent anti-abortion extremists,” Democratic State Sen. Shelley Mayer said Thursday. “New York residents have already experienced first-hand the attacks of Red Rose Rescue on patients and clinics across Nassau and Westchester Counties.”
“Those seeking medical care and the trusted and dedicated doctors and reproductive health advocates should be protected from the hate and violence exhibited by this terrorist group,” said Pretlow.
James’s press statement noted three different protests RRR members held inside abortion clinics in New York.
In an April 2021 incident, a RRR member allegedly entered an abortion clinic in Nassau County by pretending to be a patient. That protester then allegedly held a door open to allow other protesters into the clinic whom James alleged “lay on the ground screaming that they would not leave.” One of the protesters, Christopher Moscinski, entered the building carrying a black duffel bag containing his friar’s robes, which he changed into once inside the clinic waiting area. James’ press statement alleged clinic staff and patients feared Moscinski’s backpack contained weapons and clinic staff evacuated the facility.
An RRR member again reportedly used the tactic of pretending to open the way for other members to stage a protest inside a White Plains abortion clinic in November of 2021.
In July of last year, Moscinski placed six industrial locks around the entrances of a Planned Parenthood in Nassau County, preventing staff from being able to enter the facility and requiring police and fire department resources to remove the locks.
When RRR members were arrested during these incidents, they allegedly lay on the ground and went limp, forcing police officers to physically carry them away.
Moscinski and other RRR members have been convicted of criminal trespassing and received three-month jail sentences as a result of their involvement in their 2021 actions inside the abortion clinics. Moscinski was also convicted of violating the FACE Act and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Monica Migliorino Miller, the Director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and an RRR member, called James’s lawsuit “an excuse to squash pro-life speech and activity with which she personally disagrees.”
“It’s grossly unjust to impose a buffer zone of 30 feet around abortion centers in New York when Red Rose Rescuers peacefully show love, give aid and encourage women not to kill their unborn children,” Miller added.
Miller also pushed back on characterizations made by James and the various Democratic lawmakers who joined her press statement, that RRR is violent and terroristic.
“This is nothing but a total propaganda lie—born from sheer pro-abortion politics,” Miller said. “Those who participate in Red Rose Rescues are quiet, loving and completely peaceful.
Terrorism doesn’t save babies from abortion—love saves babies from abortion—and Red Rose Rescuers are committed to acts of love.”