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 Lauren Handy / Facebook

Update March 21, 2019: Fr. Imbarrato and Bud Shaver were released later on Tuesday. Lauren Handy spent the night in custody and was released Wednesday. They were able to shut down the abortion center for three hours. They will be in court for a status hearing May 14. Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, Will Goodman, Matthew Connolly, and Patrice Woodworth were arrested at Capital Hill abortion center, and released later that day. They will be in court for a status hearing April 18.

Update at 4:32 p.m. EST on March 19, 2019: Fr. Imbarrato, Lauren Handy, and Bud Shaver were arrested at around 1:30 p.m. for their Rescue at Washington Surgi-Clinic. Grace Woo and Linda Mueller were not arrested. Imbarrato, Handy, and Shaver are still in police custody. Shaver issued the following statement:

I stand in solidarity with the Red Rose Rescue participants and today join in their peaceful efforts in Washington, D.C., our nation's capital. My prayer is that through this unified, peaceful and sacrificial witness, the hearts of those who go to kill their children will be changed and they will joyfully receive the responsibility of parenthood by choosing life for their babies. 

I also appeal to President Donald Trump in hopes that he will continue to lead the charge in changing the heart of our nation so that our laws can be reformed to protect pre-born life in the womb. While we anticipate the overturning of Roe vs.Wade, we eagerly urge you to issue a presidential executive action through a Personhood Proclamation to give constitutional protection and personhood to the pre-born.

Update at 3:52 p.m. EST on March 19, 2019: There was “at least one turnaround” at each Rescue site today, according to a source outside Washington Surgi-Clinic. Four people were arrested at Capital Women’s Services.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic priests are leading pro-life activists this morning in entering two abortion centers in the nation’s capital, where they are risking arrest by peacefully offering red roses and counsel to abortion-minded women while refusing to leave when asked.

Called a “Red Rose Rescue” and inspired by Canadian activist Mary Wagner, this method of activism is something of a revival of the early “Rescue” movement. During the early days of the pro-life movement, it was normal for pro-life activists to enter abortion facilities to counsel women and even chain themselves to abortion equipment to prevent abortions from occurring. Many babies were saved this way.

Then, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to physically block women from obtaining abortions, forcing the pro-life movement to switch tactics.

Father Stephen Imbarrato of LifeMinistriesUS and four others have entered Washington Surgi-Clinic, a late-term abortion facility in an upscale part of D.C. The abortionist at that practice, Dr. Cesare Santangelo, was caught on tape in 2013 agreeing to deny medical care to a viable child who survives an abortion. Fr. Imbarrato led a “rescue” at this abortion facility on December 20; a federal court then dropped trespassing charges against him and two others.

Accompanying Fr. Imbarrato are Lauren Handy, Grace Woo, Bud Shaver of Abortion-Free New Mexico, and Linda Mueller. Fr. Imbarrato posted a Facebook live video shortly after 9:00 a.m. saying Santangelo’s office hadn’t opened and no women had gone into the abortion center. Two women have “already left without keeping their appointments,” Imbarrato said.

Father Fidelis Moscinski of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, accompanied by four pro-lifers, is leading the other D.C. rescue this morning. Moscinski and his fellow activists have entered Capital Women’s Services, also the site of past rescues. Not all of the rescuers are risking arrest; one woman who wishes to be known as “Baby Jane Doe” entered the facility but has now left.

A source on the ground outside Capital Women’s Services told LifeSiteNews police have arrived on the scene.

Capital Women’s Services is operated by Steven Chase Brigham, an abortionist with a long history of license revocations, botched abortions, and medical malpractice. However, Myron Rose is the doctor who commits abortions at the site. Brigham is associated with the abortion conglomerate American Women's Services.

Brigham famously kept the bodies of 34 aborted babies in a freezer in Maryland. He was charged with first-degree murder, but the trial didn't go forward.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Joseph and also Imbarrato’s 67th birthday.

“I felt strongly called to this mission of saving babies on this special day on which I give thanks for my own birth, knowing that God desires that these babies, conceived through His grace, are granted the additional grace of being born, loved, and cherished in this world,” said Imbarrato. “St. Joseph was the protector of the Child Jesus and His mother, Mary, and so we ask St. Joseph to intercede on behalf of these babies and their moms on this day we honor his sainthood.”

‘Fully prepared’ for possible jail time

When Fr. Imbarrato entered Washington Surgi-Clinic in December, there were already three women inside the facility, he told LifeSiteNews.

“Once we [walked] in,” they were taken to a back room and “we never saw the women again.” This time, by arriving earlier, the pro-lifers will try to counsel women before they go into the waiting room.

Imbarrato stressed the pro-lifers will not be blocking the entrance to the facility or the building’s elevator. He said if women do enter the abortion center, then a Red Rose Rescuer will go into the waiting room.

The priest said he hopes this way, the rescuers will “be able to see the office workers” and “maybe even Santangelo before the place opens.”

“If Santangelo walks off that elevator, I’m going to definitely engage him and talk about his Catholic faith or his Catholic upbringing and tell him that it’s Lent” and encourage him to go to Confession.

Imbarrato said that as with past Red Rose Rescues, he won’t agree to pay any fines or do any community service if ordered to do so by the court. In 2018, he spent seven days in a D.C. jail for trespassing at Capital Women’s Services as part of a Red Rose Rescue.

“I’m fully prepared to go back to jail for as long as Our Lord wants me in jail to be a greater voice for the babies,” he said.

This is a developing story. LifeSiteNews will provide updates as they become available.