In September 2017 and again in December 2017, several courageous pro-lifers entered abortion centers in Sterling Heights (Northland Family Planning Center) and West Bloomfield (Western Women’s Center), Michigan, armed with red roses and a message of love and hope. In the waiting rooms of these killing centers were women and unborn babies who were in imminent harm from abortion.
The pro-lifers involved in the Red Rose Rescue in Sterling Heights were Dr. Monica Miller, William Goodman, Matthew Connolly, and Abygail McIntyre.
The pro-lifers involved in the West Bloomfield case were Dr. Monica Miller, William Goodman, Matthew Connolly, Robert Kovaly, and Patrice Woodworth-Crandall (missing from the photo below is Robert Kovaly).
The pro-lifers were represented by AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise.
The pro-lifers peacefully entered the waiting rooms of the abortion centers. They did not use any force to enter. They simply walked in. They did not carry with them nor brandish any weapons. They had red roses with cards attached to the stems containing a simple message of love. They did not make any threats nor engage in any violence. They abhor violence, including the violence of abortion. They did not cause any property damage nor vandalize the property in any way. They did not block or obstruct anyone from entering or leaving the abortion center. Rather, they engaged in what they firmly believed was a simple and necessary act of love and charity in an effort to protect mothers and their unborn babies from the harm caused by abortion.
Attached to the stems of the roses they delivered that day was a card with a simple message on one side, which read:
“God is Love. And He loves you and your unborn baby! Don’t be afraid. Your life circumstances will change—and this baby will give you boundless joy! Call the numbers on other side of this card. Les us help you! There is help for you and your baby.”
On the back side of the card were numbers to various crisis pregnancy centers, pregnancy counselling centers, and organizations that help women in crisis pregnancies to choose life.
Employees at the abortion centers called the police. The police arrived and directed the pro-lifers to leave the premises. The pro-lifers told the police that they would leave if they could assure them that no lives would be destroyed that day. The police provided no assurance.
The pro-lifers passively resisted, a common tactic employed by civil rights activists, prompting their arrests. The police handcuffed the pro-lifers and transported them to the police station for booking. They were charged with trespassing in both cases and with the additional charge of interfering with police authority in the West Bloomfield case.
The City of Sterling Heights jury trial commenced on February 15, 2018. The presiding judge permitted the pro-lifers to testify about their reasons for entering the abortion center. The pro-lifers were strong witnesses for life during the proceedings, providing riveting and compelling testimony in defense of the unborn.
Unfortunately, the jury returned a verdict of guilty for the single trespass charge. However, the alternate juror who was excused just prior to deliberations (seven jurors are selected and all seven listen to the evidence, and just before deliberations, one randomly selected juror is excused so that the case is decided by a jury of six—the excused juror is essentially an alternate in case a juror became ill or could not proceed—this is a standard procedure to avoid having to redo a trial in case a juror has to leave unexpectedly) later told the pro-lifers that he would have acquitted them.
Following the trial, the attorneys were permitted to discuss the case with the jurors, and the jurors made it clear that if the court had permitted the necessity / defense of others instruction, they would have acquitted the pro-lifers.
The presiding judge sentenced the pro-lifers to two years of non-reporting probation with the only condition being that they not enter the premises of the abortion center in Sterling Heights (Northland Family Planning Center). During sentencing, the judge described the pro-lifers as “good people.” The pro-aborts present during the trial and sentencing stormed out, upset by the lenient sentence and the judge’s comments.
The pro-lifers are appealing the denial of the necessity/defense of others instruction, hoping to make case law in this area.
The trial in West Bloomfield Township was much different. This was, in many respects, a tale of two cities. The West Bloomfield trial was completely sanitized. The judge would not permit the pro-lifers to call the Western Women’s Center an abortion center. Their counsel couldn’t ask the potential jurors during voir dire (the time when counsel question jurors to determine potential bias) their views on abortion. The pro-lifers were not permitted to testify as to their reasons for entering the abortion center that day. And, of course, the judge denied the pro-lifers’ request for a necessity/defense of others instruction.
Sentencing in this case was also a different story—one which demonstrated a gross contradiction. While the pro-lifers were told by the court throughout the trial that this case had nothing to do with abortion (i.e., it was a simple trespass case), abortion was front and center when it came time for sentencing. For their sentences, the pro-lifers were placed on probation for one year, with draconian conditions that included, among others, the following:
- The pro-lifers could not go within 500 feet of any abortion facility located anywhere in the United States (not just the premises where the “simple trespass” took place), and
- They could not have contact with each other, including no joint meetings or conference calls with their attorneys to assist in their defense as they will be seeking an appeal.
The court also indicated that they might have to pay “restitution” to the abortion center in an amount exceeding $7,000. Yet again, this was a “simple trespass”—which is a “property” crime. There was no damage to the property whatsoever, and no one was injured. A restitution hearing may be held in the near future.
The pro-lifer defendants in these cases have been involved in the pro-life movement for many decades. Through those years, Dr. Miller, for example, has recovered thousands of dead baby bodies from dumpsters and trash bins outside of abortion centers. Human life that was literally treated as trash. She gave these precious little children—the victims of abortion—the respectful burial they deserved.
Patrice Woodworth-Crandall, as another example, was forced by her parents at the tender age of 14 to abort her child—leaving her with a life of pain and regret, thinking that her lost child was the son she never had. Patrice knows firsthand of the emotional scars caused by abortion and works to help women avoid the same pain. She wishes that someone would have been there to offer her a message of love on the stem of a red rose that dreadful day.
Read the pro-lifers’ sentencing memorandum here.
Robert Muise commented about the West Bloomfield case:
“Throughout these proceedings, the elephant in the room was a tiny, innocent, unborn child awaiting death through abortion. This child had no voice. Lady Justice is blind in ways that are beneficial to society, but in this case, her blindness to innocent life in the womb was far from just.
Indeed, throughout these proceedings the courtroom was divided. On our side of the courtroom was light, on the other side was darkness. On our side of the courtroom was the promotion of life, on the other side was the defense of death. And on our side of the courtroom sat individuals who sought authentic justice, and on the other side sat individuals who simply sought a conviction.”
“These proceedings reminded me of a passage from the Gospel of St. John, which reads as follows: ‘And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.’ Our clients live the truth and come to the light. Their works, while considered ‘criminal’ by secular authority, are clearly seen as done in God.”
The pro-lifers will be appealing this case as well.
PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN: AFLC is providing legal representation to the pro-lifers on a pro bono basis. Any donations to help cover the costs of these trials and the upcoming appeals would be greatly appreciated. AFLC is a 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
CASE UPDATE (March 27, 2018): We filed an emergency motion to stay the execution of sentences in the West Bloomfield Township case.
CASE UPDATE (April 12, 2018): We filed our opening appeal brief in the Macomb County Circuit Court, appealing the conviction in the City of Sterling Heights case.
CASE UPDATE (September 12, 2018): We filed our application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals in our West Bloomfield case.
CASE UPDATE (January 29, 2019): We filed an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals in our City of Sterling Heights case.