NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s attorney general filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday against an anti-abortion group whose members have been arrested for blocking access to health care clinics in New York and other states.
The group, Red Rose Rescue, “has made it their mission to terrorize reproductive health care providers and the patients they serve,” said Attorney General Letitia James said in announcing the lawsuit against the organization and several members who she said have trespassed at suburban New York clinics, occupied waiting rooms and barricaded entrances.
The lawsuit filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York seeks to prevent Red Rose members from coming within 30 feet of any reproductive health care facility in addition to civil penalties and damages.
Red Rose Rescue started in 2017 and has staged actions in states including New Mexico and Michigan, in addition to New York. A message seeking comment on the New York lawsuit was sent to the organization.
Red Rose members have been criminally charged and convicted for actions carried out at three New York clinics — two on Long Island, one in Westchester County — in 2021 and 2022.
James said one member got inside All Women’s Health in White Plains on Nov. 27, 2021, by pretending to be a patient, then opened the doors to fellow Red Rose members who occupied the waiting room. Three Red Rose members who took part in that action were sentenced to three months each for criminal trespass.
Another action took place on July 7, 2022, at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Hempstead, where Red Rose activist Christopher Moscinski blocked access by placing six industrial locks and chains on the front gates, James said. Moscinski was convicted of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2023.
“We see on an almost daily basis anti-abortion protesters outside our health centers and throughout our affiliates using harmful tactics,” said Dipal Shah, chief external affairs officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, who joined James and other elected officials at the Hempstead clinic. “These tactics are not just disruptive, they’re psychologically destabilizing and they’re incredibly harmful.”
Red Rose Rescue says on its website that its mission includes entering “the actual places where the innocent unborn are about to be dragged to death.” It says its activists “stay with the abandoned unborn, as the manifestation of our love for them recognizing that unborn children, as members of the human family, have a right to be defended.”