New York Attorney General Letitia James (C) announced a lawsuit against radical anti-abortion group Red Rose Rescue on Thursday. Photo courtesy of New York Attorney General Letitia James/Twitter
June 9 (UPI) -- New York is suing a radical anti-abortion organization to prevent its members from coming within 30 feet of any reproductive healthcare facility in the state as they have repeatedly restricted patients' rights to healthcare by blocking access to abortion clinics.
Attorney General for New York State Letitia James filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, seeking to enjoin Red Rose Rescue members from coming near abortion clinics as well as to force them to pay civil penalties and damages.
"Red Rose Rescue has made it their mission to terrorize reproductive healthcare providers and the patients they serve," James said in a statement. "We will not allow Red Rose Rescue to harass and harangue New Yorkers with their outrageous militant tactics."
Red Rose Rescue states on its website that its members, who "live the Gospel of Life," enter clinics and "peacefully talk to women scheduled for abortion, with the goal of persuading them to choose life." If that fails, they remain on the premisses until they are "taken away."
The five Red Rose Rescue members named in James' court document have all been repeatedly arrested in the state and elsewhere in the country, and the court document accuses them of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and the New York Clinic Access Act.
The filing also lists three healthcare clinics in New York State that they have been arrested at, including All Women's Care in Manhasset, Nassau County, where on April 24, 2021, Red Rose Rescue gained access to facility by having one of its members pretend to be a patient seeking care.
After that member checked in for her appointment, she let in additional members through a side door and they occupied the waiting room while staff instructed patients to leave the clinic and called police to the scene, the court document states.
The defendants repeatedly refused police's request to leave the facility, and as they were detained they "went limp and dropped to the floor, and police had to carry them out," it said. One of the Red Rose Rescue members who participated in the event was sentenced to 30 days' imprisonment while two others currently serving other jail sentences, including Christopher Moscinski, are to be sentenced for this crime on June 30.
Moscinski, who claims to have been arrested at least 31 times, was also convicted in connection the Red Rose Rescue action at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead on July 7. According to prosecutors, early that morning he placed industrial locks and chains around the facility's front gates.
After the locks were cut, he returned in religious garb and lied in front of the gate to block vehicles from entering the facility's parking lot.
"As the police arrested him, defendant Moscinski again went limp, and multiple police officers had to carry him out," James' court document states.
"Moscinski has admitted to this conduct and stated that 'the main motivation was to keep that Planned Parenthood closed for as long as possible.'"
He is to be sentenced for this crime on June 27.
The defendants have also conducted similar actions at health facilities throughout the country, it said.
Monica Migliorino Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society and a Red Rose Rescue member, accused James of "trampling" on their right to free speech.
"She is using Red Rose Rescue as an excuse to squash pro-life speech and activity with which she personally disagrees," Miller said in a statement.
"It's grossly unjust to impose a buffer zone of 30 fee around abortion centers in New York when Red Rose Rescuers peacefully show love, give aid and encourage women" not to have abortions.