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Judge bans 5 pro-life advocates from picketing abortion clinics

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)A protester with her mouth taped over with the word "life" stands in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A judge has banned five pro-life advocates from protesting outside abortion clinics in Michigan after they were convicted of trespassing and obstructing a police officer.

Pro-life advocates Monica Migliorino Miller of South Lyon, Robert Kovaly of Hastings, Patrice Woodworth of Minnesota, Will Goodman of Wisconsin and Matthew Connolly of Illinois were sentenced to 12 months of probation on Wednesday for entering the Women's Center on Orchard Lake Road on Dec. 2, 2017 and distributing red roses to pregnant women and urging them not to have an abortion.

Apart from the probation, Bloomfield Township's 48th District Judge Marc Barron also sentenced the five pro-life activists to eight days of community service, more than $1,000 in fines each, and ordered them to stay 500 feet from any abortion clinic in the U.S, Life Site News reported.

The activists, who are part of a movement called Red Rose Rescue, will also be forbidden from associating with or communicating with each other for a year, and they cannot associate with anyone who is "engaged in breaking the law."

The judge has given Miller 30 days to pay the fine, but she has reportedly told him she refuses to do so.

"I'll (agree to) go see a probation officer, but I'm not paying a fine, and I'm not gonna do community service. I am not guilty of a crime," she said.

"Even in the heyday of the Rescue movement, we never saw anything like this, really. I can only come to the conclusion that the judge is in favor of legalized abortion, that he saw that the Red Rose Rescue was a threat to the practice of abortion. Otherwise, we would have had a lenient sentence. ... I don't think any of us expected the harshness of this sentence," she continued.

Miller, a theology professor at Madonna University, has previously been convicted five times for similar activities. She told the judge that their trial last month was "sanitized," where any mention of abortion or pro-life views were prohibited.

During the trial, Barron reportedly agreed to the prosecutor's request to never refer to the Women's Center as an abortion clinic.

Goodman, Woodworth and Connolly also had prior convictions for similar offenses. Kovaly, who did not have a prior conviction, received a lighter sentence of six months probation, community service and courts costs and fines. He is required to stay away from the Women's Center and those who work there, but there are no other restrictions regarding abortion clinics.

Defense attorney Robert Muise, who's representing the five, said that plans are already underway to appeal the convictions and sentences.

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