Four pro-life activists have been sentenced to 45 days in jail for conducting what they call a "Red Rose Rescue" event at an abortion facility in Flint, Michigan.
The Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising announced in a statement shared with The Christian Post that its Director of Activism Lauren Handy was among four pro-life activists sentenced to a month and a half at the Genesee County Jail in Flint.
The charges stem from a "Red Rose Rescue" at the Women’s Center of Flint and Saginaw in 2019.
The organization states that a "Red Rose Rescue" is a "direct action in which activists enter abortion businesses, hand out life-affirming literature, red roses and offer hope and financial resources to the patients at risk of exploitation by the Abortion Industrial Complex."
Handy and her co-defendants — William Goodman, Patrice Woodworth and Matthew Connolly — were charged with the felony offense of obstructing a police officer and the misdemeanor offense of trespassing and disturbing the peace.
The four activists went "limp" during their arrest, described by PAAU as "a decision often made by nonviolent social activists who refuse to assist in their own unjust arrest." Following their sentencing, the defendants were "immediately taken into custody."
"We are living in the midst of a genocide and it's no surprise that the institutions which allow for the exploitation and murder of thousands of unborn children in this state are inflicting further oppression onto those like Lauren, who dare to challenge their agenda," said PAAU Founder and Executive Director Terrisa Bukovinac.
"Rescuers across the nation must remain vigilant in our defense of preborn babies and we must not allow violent oppressors to shame or intimidate us out of stopping this injustice. The road may seem bleak but we shall overcome."
Pro-life activists affiliated with PAAU gathered outside the jail Friday to demand the release of Handy and her colleagues.
Pictures from the protest reveal participants holding signs reading "FREE LAUREN HANDY," "ABORTION IS LITERALLY MURDER," "LIFE WINS" and "DIVEST FROM BIG ABORTION." Some posters featured depictions of unborn babies at various stages of pregnancy.
Chanting through a megaphone at the protest, Bukovinac declared: "We must stand up to institutions that engage in legalized child-killing in our community here and across the country." She added, "These rescuers are innocent of any crimes and they are heroes."
PAAU urges other pro-life activists in Michigan and the surrounding states to organize protests outside the Genesee County Jail.
This is not the first time Handy has spent time in jail for engaging in direct action and nonviolent protest at abortion clinics.
Over the summer, Handy and five others were sentenced to 30 days in prison for conducting a Pink Rose Rescue at an abortion clinic in Alexandria, Virginia, in November 2021. Handy was released after spending 15 days behind bars while her co-defendants were released after two days in custody.
PAAU says a "Red Rose Rescue" signifies affiliation with a religious cause, while a "Pink Rose Rescue" is secular in nature. The "Rose Rescues" represent a departure from the "traditional rescue," where pro-life activists blockade abortion clinics and prevent people from entering.
In a previous interview with The Christian Post, Randall Terry of the pro-life group Operation Rescue stated that his organization would routinely lead blockades outside of abortion clinics featuring 100 or more people until the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994.
Under the FACE Act, participants in traditional rescues would face a "federal misdemeanor for the first offense and a federal felony for the second offense" instead of "local trespass charges."
"Once that law was passed, it effectively broke the back of our movement," he recalled. The FACE Act subjects violators to up to 11 years in prison.
Terry and Bukovinac called for the law's repeal at a protest outside the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C., last month. Bukovinac decried the law as unnecessary now that the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide was overturned in June. Bukovinac contends the FACE Act was "predicated" on Roe.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org