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Lauren Handy at a pro-life rally outside the Washington, D.C. flagship Planned Parenthood. Behind her is Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, another Red Rose Rescuer.Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Today, a federal judge dismissed all charges against three pro-life activists who conducted a Red Rose Rescue at a Washington, D.C. late-term abortion facility on March 19.

Bud Shaver, Father Stephen Imbarrato, and Lauren Handy entered and refused to leave Dr. Cesare Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic. They were there to offer red roses to moms considering or undergoing abortions. Red Rose Rescues, inspired by Canadian activist Mary Wagner, consist of pro-lifers risking arrest by refusing to leave abortion centers as they distribute roses and beg mothers not to abort their children.

The trio was charged with unlawful entry and failure to leave. Judge John Ramsey Johnson of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia dismissed the charges. Imbarrato had filed a motion to dismiss after the prosecution missed a July 2 discovery deadline. He told LifeSiteNews the prosecution called him on July 9 to inform him they were asking for a continuance. Imbarrato, who represented himself, told them he opposed that and would be asking for the charges to be dismissed. 

The judge said the charges could be reinstated, something Imbarrato speculated may have been “their subtle way of telling us, ‘Don’t do this again.’”

No Red Rose Rescue participant has been charged under the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), the strict law signed by former President Bill Clinton that imposes harsh penalties on those who protest abortion using “rescue”-style tactics. During the dawn of the post–Roe v. Wade pro-life movement and before the passage of FACE, it was common for activists to save babies by blocking entrances to abortion centers, flooding their waiting rooms with pro-lifers, and chaining themselves to abortion equipment.

“I’m glad the Red Rose Rescue charges were dismissed because of course we did nothing wrong,” said Imbarrato. “We are merely trying to save babies and bring more attention in Washington, D.C. to the daily mass murder of pre-born children that is sanctioned, protected, and funded by our government.”

This is the fourth time a federal judge has dismissed or dropped charges against pro-lifers after they orchestrated a Red Rose Rescue in Washington, D.C.

Washington Surgi-Clinic is in an upscale part of D.C. right next to the campus of George Washington University. In 2013, Santangelo was caught on tape agreeing to deny medical care to a viable child who survives an abortion.

“I am so thankful that the charges against us have been dismissed,” said Shaver. He said he and the others were acting “on behalf of the innocent pre-born babies who die daily in our nation’s capital and across America.”

“Instead of spending [seven] days in jail, which was what I anticipated, we will continue to be with the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust for activism events in Washington, D.C. and for bowling at the White House,” he said, referring to a pro-life boot camp taking place this week. “Thank you to everyone who has prayed for and supported us in our efforts.”

As Shaver, Imbarrato, and Handy entered and were arrested at Washington Surgi-Clinic on March 19, another team of pro-lifers was conducting a rescue at Capital Women’s Services. That abortion center is in a far less affluent area of the city than Washington Surgi-Clinic.

Capital Women’s Services is operated by Steven Chase Brigham, an abortionist with a long history of license revocations, botched abortions, and medical malpractice. Pro-lifers have questioned the legality of that abortion facility’s operations. It shares a building with an office of the D.C. Department of Health.

Brigham is known for keeping 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.

The pro-lifers who led the Red Rose Rescue at Capital Women’s Services are scheduled to go on trial on September 19, 2019.

The Red Rose Rescue movement continues to grow. It recently launched a website detailing its mission and ways for people to get involved.


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