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STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Four pro-life advocates were found guilty of criminal charges for attempting to stop women from aborting their unborn children.
Municipal Judge Matthew Rumora sentenced Dr. Monica Miller, national director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, Abigail McIntryre, a full-time college student, Matthew Connolly and William Goodman, a full-time human rights advocate to two years non-reporting probation for trespassing after they entered Northland Family Planning in Sterling Heights, MI, on September 15, 2017.
In a post on Facebook by Lynn Mills, a pro-life investigator and source close to the four defendants, said she was told the jury would have found them not guilty if the defense of necessity was allowed by Rumora. Rumora also reportedly said he is Catholic and hears the right to life message in Church every week and is sympathetic.
The defense tried to explain that the lives of the unborn were in imminent danger allowing the rescuers to break the law to save them. They used the analogy to running into a burning building to save a life saying "technically, that's trespassing."
During the trial, Sterling Heights prosecuting attorney Donald Denault said it was a "simple case of not leaving when asked to do so," arguing that it didn't matter why they did it or if their cause was just, noting, "Maybe their cause should be championed." He said, "Rights have to have limits" and told the jurors they needed to follow their consciences only in the matter of the law.
Robert Muise, defense attorney with American Freedom Law Center, explained their actions were an act of charity comparing their sacrifice to that of Martin Luther King Jr.'s saying "Because of Martin Luther King, we have a more just world today. Because of the four defendants, the four courageous pro-life rescuers, we have a more just world."
Throughout the trial, witnesses noted the how peacefully the defendants acted during the Red Rose Rescues.
Miller noted that when she was there, she talked to a woman named Verna, who admitted she was there for an abortion. After offering Verna a rose and telling her that help was available, Verna stood up as if to leave the abortuary with Dr. Miller. A staff member quickly walked up and ushered Verna into a back room.
Goodman said in his testimony that 64 percent of women have said they felt pressure to abort, and McIntyre testified that pro-life sidewalk counselors can be the only voice of support these women will hear. Dr. Miller did not know what happened to Verna and felt she was coerced into following the abortion mill worker.
After the testimony, Dr. Miller gave credit to Denault for allowing the defendants to fully explain their position, saying, "he opened up certain doors for me to be able to expound and to explain." She summarized her testimony to Church Militant, saying:
The unborn are real, they truly exist, and abortion is a violence against them. And this doesn't have necessarily anything to do with my religion. Yes, I'm a religious person, but somebody who is not necessarily religious can be against abortion because it has to do with natural law, it has to do with natural rights, it has to do with what it means to be human and where do human rights come from.
Miller said they "absolutely" want to be found not guilty, but said, "We want that not guilty verdict for the innocent unborn children that were put to death in Renae Jillian's abortion clinic that day. That not guilty verdict is for them, not for us."
Miller explained in a short video, released around the same time as the Red Rose Rescues took place, why they chose to enter the abortion mills and risk criminal charges. "By refusing to leave the clinics when told to do so by law enforcement, they offered an act of nonviolent defense of unborn children about to be aborted," she said.
"The rescuers chose to remain in the clinic as an act of solidarity with the unborn children scheduled to be put to death by abortionists," she explained, noting they were responding to the imminent peril the "innocent babies and their beleaguered mothers" were in.
Three groups of people attempted Red Rose Rescues on September 15, 2017. In addition to the rescue attempt in Sterling Heights, two other groups of pro-life advocates entered the Alexandria Women's Health Clinic in Alexandria, Virginia and the Capital Women's Clinic in Washington D.C. and were arrested.
The Washington D.C. trial is scheduled for June, and the Virginia trial is scheduled for March 9.
The Red Rose Rescues were modeled after Canadian pro-life advocate Mary Wagner, who had been jailed for months for her actions entering abortion mills.