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WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Michigan court is portraying pro-life advocates as threatening and violent, and slammed them with stiff fines and penalties as a deterrent to others.
Looking visibly nervous, the five pro-lifers who participated in the West Bloomfield Red Rose Rescue faced Judge Marc Barron of the 48th District Court of Michigan on Wednesday to hear their sentences for trespassing.
Entering the Women's Center of Michigan abortuary on December 2, Dr. Monica Miller, Patrice Woodworth, Matthew Connolly, Robert Kolavy and William Goodman brought roses and messages of support to the women waiting in the abortion mill run by Jacob Kalo, an abortionist with a history of health violations and botched abortions.
The prosecuting attorney, Larry Sherman, painted the defendants as disrespectful and threatening, saying that "the community needs to be protected from them." Sherman even said the Red Rose Rescues were "a recruitment tool," and "the people see a more nefarious plan here."
He continued to blast the pro-lifers as "harassing their victims" and claimed that 50-yard buffer zones are needed, even showing his pro-choice bias, saying "women have a right to control their own body." At one point, he raised his voice, almost yelling, "The issue is a national one. Go to Washington, petition the president, leave us alone!"
Sherman argued the pro-lifers needed jail time, buffer zones, community service and "substantial" fines and restitution to stop their "invasions."
The defendants' attorney, Robert Muise of American Freedom Law Center, said he objected to 90 percent of the statements made in the pre-sentencing report, especially those claiming the defendants were intimidating, "verbally abusive" or intrusive, saying, "Anything but peaceful action on the part of my clients, I disagree with that."
Muise also said the portrayals of the rescue were factually incorrect, noting they were more like opinions. The court reports were peppered with descriptions of the pro-lifers as harassing, violent, threatening and even saying they were "aggressively shoving pamphlets at victims," who were "extremely intimidated by them." Hidden-camera video from inside the clinic during the rescue shows what actually happened.
During the trial, Barron refused to allow the defense's argument that their actions were necessary to save the lives of the unborn. "Thus, the babies were kept hidden from the jury," said Dr. Monica Miller, national director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society. Barron refused to allow jurors to use the defense of necessity, and "the jury never got to weigh the good of defending life versus the 'breaking' of the law of trespass," Miller explained.
Church Militant spoke with Dr. Miller, who told us, "We did not have a fair trial and that means the unborn did not get their day in court." She explained, "[T]he court ruled that Women's Center could not even be referred to as an 'abortion clinic' — that's how ridiculous the court proceedings are in a pro-life case!"
During Dr. Miller's statement to Barron, she explained the real problem with the case was "the real victim was not allowed to be heard." She said she had talked hundreds of women out of killing their unborn children. One of those women attended the sentencing.
Dr. Miller explained, "We were there to beg for the lives of the hidden-victim class that goes to their death under an unjust law 3,000 times a day."
Goodman's statement to Barron explained the "Red Rose Rescues are a human rights coalition" that speaks for the "voiceless oppressed." He blasted the law, saying "such statutes should never be used to protect the oppressor."
During Woodworth's statement, the power of her witness was evident in the silence. She explained that she was pressured to have an abortion at a young age, saying she wished someone was there to advocate for her son David's life. She validated the need for the rescues by telling the judge that two women she spoke with left. One was filling out paperwork to have an abortion and hadn't thought of herself as a mother and the life inside her as a baby. She blasted the comparison made at the trial that the Red Rose Rescues were similar to a drunk driving offense or an addiction.
"Our work is not abusive or violent. Our work is peaceful, loving and caring," she insisted.
Most of the defendants appealed directly to Barron. "This is your opportunity to do the right thing," Dr. Miller said.
Connolly asked that he show mercy, while Goodman noted it was Barron, the police and the abortion mill workers who are on trial. "History and God will be the judge," Goodman said.
Barron listened but hit all of the defendants with probation, ranging from 6–24 months, community service and fines upwards of $1,000 to be paid before they can even start the appeal process. To ensure their "rehabilitation," Barron also banned the pro-lifers from contacting anyone at the abortion mill, banning them from "picketing" or being closer than 500 feet to an abortion mill for one year.
Saying the co-defendants were a "bad influence upon each other," he forbade them from speaking to each other for one year — arguably a violation of their constitutional right to freedom of association.
After questioning Dr. Miller if she would continue to advocate inside abortion mills, Barron likened her pro-life work to an addiction, saying that "she would not be able to restrict herself to lawful activities." Barron also questioned each of the defendants as to whether they would enter another abortion mill. Goodman replied, "As long as they're not killing people, no."
Barron continued to blast the pro-lifers, saying their actions "cause chaos," and he would be "sanctioning anarchy" if he didn't punish them. He said the restitution would be decided at a later hearing, but noted earlier the abortionist asked for $7,050 in damages.
Muise objected to the terms of the probation, saying they were "hopelessly vague" and that there was "absolutely no basis for restitution."
They will be appealing the judge's denials of the defendants' reasons for trespassing and the defense of necessity. Muise also said the underlying trial voir dire, or bias determination in juror selection, would be appealed. He said some of the jurors even brought up their own bias, ignored by Barron. They will also be appealing the sentences on the grounds they violate their First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and association.
The five pro-lifers stated they wouldn't be paying their fines out of principal, risking 90 days in jail for violating the conditions of probation. Dr. Miller joked, "If someone wanted to pay them for me, I wouldn't object." No crowdfunding campaign has been set up, but donations can be made to American Freedom Law Center for the appeals process,
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