Attorney General James Sues Militant Anti-Abortion Group for Invading Clinics and Blocking Access to Reproductive Health Care
Red Rose Rescue Violated Clinic Access Laws and Trespassed
at Abortion Clinics on Long Island and in Westchester
Lawsuit Seeks to Prohibit Red Rose Rescue from Coming Within 30 Feet
of Any Reproductive Health Care Facility in New York State
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against members of Red Rose Rescue, an anti-abortion extremist group, for invading reproductive health care clinics, threatening staff and clinicians, and terrorizing patients. Red Rose Rescue and its members — including Christopher “Fidelis” Moscinski, Matthew Connolly, William Goodman, Laura Gies, and John Hinshaw — have repeatedly trespassed at abortion clinics and physically blocked access to reproductive health care services in an effort to stop clinics from operating. Red Rose Rescue members have interfered with clinics in Nassau and Westchester Counties by lying to clinicians in order to gain access to the facilities under false pretenses, physically occupying waiting rooms and refusing to leave, and barricading entrances. At each of the New York clinics, multiple patients’ appointments were delayed or missed due to Red Rose Rescue’s actions.
Obstructing or interfering with access to reproductive health care clinics, including abortion clinics, is illegal under the United States Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) and the New York State Clinic Access Act. In the lawsuit filed today, Attorney General James seeks to prohibit Red Rose Rescue members from coming within 30 feet of any reproductive health care facility in New York state, in addition to civil penalties and damages.
“Red Rose Rescue has made it their mission to terrorize reproductive health care providers and the patients they serve,” said Attorney General James. “Only we have the right to make decisions about our own bodies — not anti-choice legislators, and not bigoted zealots. We will not allow Red Rose Rescue to harass and harangue New Yorkers with their outrageous militant tactics. Make no mistake: abortion is health care, and as New York’s Attorney General, I will continue to protect and defend everyone’s legal right to safely access health care.”
Red Rose Rescue is a radical anti-abortion group whose members seek to prevent abortions by trespassing into private medical facilities and clinics and refusing to leave until they are physically removed by law enforcement. Despite multiple convictions in New York and across the country, Red Rose Rescue continues to repeat their hateful, disruptive, and criminal misconduct, terrorizing reproductive health care providers and patients. In the past two years, Red Rose Rescue has delayed and interfered with the provision of reproductive health care services at three clinics in New York.
All Women’s Care in Manhasset, Nassau County
On April 24, 2021, Moscinski, Gies, Hinshaw, and members of Red Rose Rescue invaded All Women’s Care, a reproductive health services clinic. One member of the group pretended to be a patient seeking care in order to infiltrate the clinic. After checking in for her appointment, she went to a side entrance and opened it to let in additional members of Red Rose Rescue, who invaded the waiting room and lay on the ground screaming that they would not leave. When Moscinski entered, he was carrying a black duffle bag, which staff and patients feared held weapons. He pulled out his friar’s robes and changed in the waiting room. Clinic staff, concerned about safety, directed patients to leave and take cover in their cars. Red Rose Rescue disrupted operations at the clinic for two hours. When threatened with arrest, they went limp and fell to the ground, forcing police to carry them out of the clinic. On April 17, 2023, Hinshaw was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation for criminal trespass and obstructing the police. Gies and Moscinski are currently serving jail sentences in Michigan and will be sentenced on June 30, 2023.
All Women’s Health in White Plains, Westchester County
On November 27, 2021, Moscinski, Goodman, Connolly, and members of Red Rose Rescue invaded All Women’s Health and Medical Services, a private reproductive health clinic. One member pretended to be a patient seeking an abortion and once admitted to the clinic, held the door open for other Red Rose Rescue members to rush inside, where they occupied the waiting room and threatened to stay until the facility stopped performing abortions, forcing patients to hide out in the hallways. The occupation lasted for two hours before they were carried out. On August 2, 2022, Moscinski, Goodman, and Connolly were each sentenced to three months in jail for criminal trespass.
Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, Nassau County
On July 7, 2022, Moscinski placed six industrial locks and chains on the front gates of a Planned Parenthood clinic, blocking the driveway into the parking lot and pedestrian access gates so that staff and patients could not enter. Neither the police nor the fire department could cut the locks with manual tools and ultimately resorted to a battery-operated saw. When the locks were finally removed, Moscinski laid down in the driveway to prevent cars from entering the facility and had to be physically removed and carried out by multiple police officers. Moscinski was convicted of criminal violation of the FACE Act and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2023.
With this lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks to protect New York reproductive health care facilities and their patients by prohibiting Red Rose Rescue, Moscinski, Connolly, Goodman, Gies, Hinshaw, and their associates from knowingly coming within 30 feet of any clinic in the state. Attorney General James is also seeking civil penalties and damages to be determined by the court.
This lawsuit is the latest action Attorney General James has taken to defend abortion access in New York and across the country. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to end Roe v. Wade, Attorney General James launched a pro bono legal hotline to provide legal support to patients and health care providers nationwide. Attorney General James has repeatedly led multi-state coalitions in submitting amicus briefs to combat efforts to roll back abortion rights, and to support protecting Americans’ access to safe, legal abortions. During former President Trump’s Administration, Attorney General James challenged attempts to restrict access to reproductive healthcare services, such as the Trump administration's Title X rule and submitted testimony urging passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act. Attorney General James has helped lead coalitions of attorneys general to defend abortion access in states including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Attorney General James has supported state legislation to provide funds to abortion providers in New York and called for an amendment to the state constitution to ensure the right to an abortion.
Most recently, Attorney General James co-led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief in Texas v. Becerra, supporting the Biden Administration’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s defense of access to emergency abortion care. Last month, Attorney General James led two separate multistate coalitions in filing two amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit arguing that separate decisions issued by the same district court judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas would harm access to mifepristone and threaten privacy protections over adolescents’ reproductive health care decisions.
“Planned Parenthood of Greater New York applauds New York Attorney General Letitia James for taking a stand against protestors outside our health centers that harass, threaten, and intimidate patients seeking health care,” said Dipal Shah, Executive Director and Chief External Affairs Officer, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund. “Everyone deserves the ability to access the care they need without threat or fear. With this action, the Attorney General is standing up for New Yorkers’ right to access care with dignity. PPGNY is committed to fostering a safe environment that honors everyone’s right to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health care — which will always include abortion services. We are proud to continue to work with the Attorney General and lawmakers on long-term solutions to maintain safe and dignified access to our health centers, no matter what.”
“New Yorkers deserve access to abortion care and reproductive health care services free of any harassment, fear, or intimidation,” said New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “The Senate Majority Conference has championed legislation to expand access to abortion care and protect providers who deliver critical reproductive health services in clinics across the state. I want to thank Attorney General Letitia James for taking legal action against members of this anti-abortion group that have employed dangerous tactics to interfere with New Yorkers' rights to access reproductive health care services. New York has no tolerance for anti-abortion extremism; we will continue to stand up for reproductive rights for patients and providers alike.”
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest and the freedom of expression, invading clinics and blocking access to reproductive health care is not only illegal but also an egregious violation of the rights and safety of individuals seeking essential medical services,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “The actions of this group in these incidents goes far beyond free speech and free assembly; they specifically used force to stop others from accessing services. We will not tolerate such actions that intimidate and terrorize patients, staff, and clinicians. We are committed to upholding the law and ensuring that all individuals have access to the reproductive health care they need. This lawsuit sends a strong message that we will hold accountable those who attempt to impede on the rights and well-being of others.”
“We successfully prosecuted three Red Rose Rescue members for their criminal conduct that took place in White Plains in November 2021,” said Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah. “They were convicted and sentenced to jail last year by a judge who also found that one of them lied during the trial. I applaud the Attorney General for seeking to prohibit Red Rose Rescue’s acts of obstruction and interference of patients’ reproductive rights in New York. In Westchester County, I will continue to use the full force of my office to protect patients’ access to reproductive health care and hold accountable violators who try to interfere.”
“Red Rose Rescue's actions in reproductive clinics on Long Island and in Westchester County were unlawful,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The Supreme Court has demonstrated its complete disregard for reproductive rights and enabled the disturbing actions of anti-abortion organizations across the country; but here in New York we will not allow these organizations to intimidate patients and obstruct entry into reproductive clinics that provide vital services to our residents. I am grateful to New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul for taking legal action to protect the rights of all who seek quality reproductive care.”
“I am so grateful to Attorney General James for commencing this action against these most virulent and violent anti-abortion extremists,” said State Senator Shelley Mayer. “New York residents have already experienced first-hand the attacks of Red Rose Rescue on patients and clinics across Nassau and Westchester Counties. Sadly, over 30 years ago, as an Assistant Attorney General, I personally worked with colleagues to stop the infamous Operation Rescue organization from disrupting and interfering with women seeking abortion services in New York state. Today’s announcement by the Attorney General confirms that this fight to ensure access to abortion services is far from over, even here in New York state. I applaud Attorney General James for her swift action against this group and its members. New York will not back down, and we will continue to rise above the violence and hate and ensure women have unimpeded access to the services to which they are entitled.”
“Interfering with the safety and access of patients seeking reproductive health care is cruel and illegal,” said State Senator Kevin Thomas. “I applaud Attorney General James for enforcing our laws and moving to hold extremist groups that invade clinics and block access to providers accountable for their lawlessness. It is imperative that health care professionals can continue to provide services without fear of intimidation and harassment on Long Island and across New York.”
“I would like to thank Attorney General James for continuing to fight for reproductive health in New York state,” said Assemblymember Taylor Darling. “The actions taken by Red Rose Rescue to prevent individuals from receiving reproductive care are unacceptable and I am glad that action is being taken against them. Protecting reproductive health is a priority in New York and it needs to stay that way.”
“I applaud Attorney General James for taking strong action to protect a woman’s right to choose in New York state,” said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest. “At a time when women’s rights are under more and more dire threat across the country, it is more vital than ever that New York remain a safe harbor, where the right to abortion is secure and guaranteed.”
“Anti-abortion extremist terror has no place in New York state, and I’m proud to have an Attorney General who will use the power of her office to make that clear,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, primary sponsor of the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Act. “Red Rose Rescue has been terrorizing patients, providers, and clinic staff for too long and violating both federal and state laws that protect clinic access in the process. I’m grateful to the Attorney General for filing this lawsuit today and look forward to working together to protect and expand access to abortion care in New York.”
“New York will keep defending attacks from extremist anti-abortion groups as we remain a bastion for women's rights and a sanctuary state for abortions. I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for taking swift legal action against the militant Red Rose anti-abortion group for their atrocious assaults on abortion clinics,” said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “We are sending a clear message that a woman's right to choose and to access reproductive healthcare will always be available to New Yorkers and women across the nation, and that hate and terrorism will never be tolerated.”
“Women have the right to decide what to do with their bodies. The anti-abortion extremist group, Red Rose Rescue, has chosen to trespass and physically block access to reproductive health clinics to stop the clinics from operating. These antics take time and resources away from the women who are seeking healthcare assistance,” said Assemblymember Alicia L. Hyndman. “I support the Attorney General in seeking to prohibit the Red Rose Rescue from coming within the vicinity of reproductive health care facilities in New York.”
“I welcome this legal action against the despicable characters associated with Red Rose Rescue, an extremist group which has become more and more brazen as abortion rights continue to be stripped away in the Trump era,” said Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine. “While I applaud Attorney General James for enforcing existing law, I will continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature to create the legal means ensuring that women are safely able to get the reproductive health care they need.”
“I applaud the Attorney General and her office for taking strong action against the anti-abortion agitators invading women's health clinics in our area,” said Assemblymember Dana Levenberg. “We will not succumb to those attempting to undermine women's health care by imposing their beliefs on unwilling people. New York state law protects women, our right to choose, and those who provide us with reproductive health care.”
“The actions of the Red Rose group last year, when they occupied an abortion clinic in Westchester County and wouldn’t leave, were both illegal and despicable,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “It wasn’t clear at the time if they were armed or not, and they were a very threatening presence to the workers and patients in the clinic. It took several hours along with police action in order to get them to leave. I’ve spoken with some of the people who were there, and they’ve said it was terrifying. An incident like this should never be allowed to happen again, and I commend Attorney General James for taking action to make sure this group is kept away from reproductive health care clinics in New York state.”
“I am in full support of the Attorney General's lawsuit against Red Rose Rescue,” said Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow. “Clinics should serve as a safe haven for those who are making a personal, heart-wrenching decision that will have a significant impact on their life. So those seeking medical care and the trusted and dedicated doctors and reproductive health advocates should be protected from the hate and violence exhibited by this terrorist group.”
“Allowing lawful activities to take place is a hallmark of a civilized society,” said Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky. “For those who seek to shut down women’s reproductive health clinics by stopping operations, possibly violating medical protocols, and potentially putting everyone on site at risk, just because they don’t like the services being offered, there must be consequences. That is why I congratulate Attorney General Letitia James on pursuing this case against Red Rose Rescue and their leadership.”
“Across the country, we have seen women's reproductive rights under assault by conservative judges, elected officials, and dangerous extremists in an attempt to undermine women’s fundamental rights,” said Assemblymember Gina Sillitti. “I applaud our Attorney General Letitia James for taking decisive action today on behalf of all New Yorkers. Their brazen invasions of abortion clinics and obstructing access to vital health care services cannot be tolerated. This legal action sends a clear message that New York will fiercely protect women in our state.”
“There has been an alarming rise of anti-abortion extremist groups terrorizing patients who are seeking healthcare through intimidation tactics, threats of violence, and physically blockading abortion clinics here in New York,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “This has resulted in some patients delaying or cancelling their reproductive health care visits, and traumatizing patients with abuse. Attorney General James’ lawsuit sends a clear message to anti-abortion extremist groups who violate federal and state laws: you are not welcome in New York. New York state has done everything in our power to protect abortion access and make New York the most inviting state for reproductive healthcare in the nation. I want to thank Attorney General Letitia James for defending these crucial freedoms.”
“New York state is a safe place for people seeking reproductive health care,” said Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages. “Anyone who impedes this right must be held accountable. I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for taking swift action against these bad actors in my home county of Nassau.”
“In November 2021, members of Red Rose Rescue attempted to invade a health care facility in White Plains. Three of those individuals were found guilty of trespassing for that incident, but the incident, and others like it, caused lingering fear and insecurity,” said Westchester Board of Legislators Chair Vedat Gashi. “To address these concerns, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed the ‘Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access Act,’ to guarantee safe access to all women seeking medical care in Westchester; but this law is not enough. We must also prosecute those hoping to destroy that right — that is why we are so incredibly proud that Attorney General Letitia James is prosecuting Red Rose Rescue today. We stand with women seeking medical care in peace, and stand against those that would intimidate and obstruct access — and are proud that Attorney General Letitia James does as well.”
“Bronxites, New Yorkers, and those out of state are highly dependent on the reproductive health care facilities in Long Island and Westchester,” said New York City Council Member Amanda Farias. “As legislators across the country continue to block access to reproductive care, in New York we are making it clear that we will not allow for access to abortion to be blocked legislatively nor literally. Thank you to the Attorney General for your leadership on protecting abortion in New York state.”
“Anyone seeking abortion care in New York should be able to receive that care free from intimidation and violence,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director, New York Civil Liberties Union. “We thank Attorney General James for taking action to ensure that New York remains a leader for reproductive rights and health and that the law is used to prevent individuals from unlawfully shutting down access to abortion.”
“The violence providers face today is beyond anything ever seen before. Despite a global pandemic, and mandated shutdowns, attacks on abortion clinics, patients, and providers have hit a record high,” said Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, President, WCLA – Choice Matters and Founder, Center for Analysis and Tracking of Clinic Harassers (CATCH). “The act of invading and then occupying reproductive health care facilities while other agitators overwhelm patients is now the modus operandi of new wave anti-abortion agitators, including Red Rose Rescue. Abortion is health care and legal in New York state. Access to reproductive health care must be safe for all patients, providers, and staff. We thank Attorney General James for leading the legal battle to hold these violent extremists accountable. It is through concerted efforts by our legislatures, law enforcement, and organizations such as CATCH that we can ensure safe, unimpeded access to health care.”
“As a provider of sexual and reproductive health that advocates for its patients’ right to get the care they need, Public Health Solutions strongly condemns actions that aim to prevent access to health services, threaten patient autonomy, and create a climate of fear to intimidate clinic staff,” said Lisa David, President and CEO, Public Health Solutions. “Such actions are fundamentally unacceptable, and we applaud Attorney General James for taking action to protect access to reproductive healthcare in New York state.”
This matter is being handled by Senior Counsel Sandra Pullman of the Civil Rights Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Julia Toce of the Watertown Regional Office, under the supervision of Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England. Additional assistance was provided by Special Counsel for Reproductive Justice Galen Leigh Sherwin of the Executive Division, Health Care Bureau Chief Darsana Srinivasan, and Detective Investigator Wilsonia Jean-Philippe of the Investigations Bureau. The Civil Rights Bureau and the Health Care Bureau are part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. The Investigations Bureau is a part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. The Executive Division, Division for Social Justice, and Division for Criminal Justice are all overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.