After enduring repeated threats and physical assaults outside abortion clinics, Albuquerque pro-life activists are calling on the police and prosecutors to protect them by filing charges against a recent armed assailant.

Police responded in force on August 25 when an armed Arizona man bringing his 16-year-old daughter for an abortion at an infamous late-term abortion facility, Southwestern Women’s Options, threatened to “shoot [a sidewalk counselor] in the heart.”

They failed, however, to show up after being summoned in at least one previous violent incident.

“This is the first time the police have responded properly to threats we’ve received in front of the abortion mill,” said Father Stephen Imbarrato, head of Project Defending Life, an Albuquerque-based pro-life ministry. Imbarrato recently has been reaching out to Albuquerque’s mayor, district attorneys and police to improve relationships with the pro-life community.

Imbarrato plans to ask the local district attorney to press charges against the Arizona man. The man had at least two firearms in the trunk of his vehicle when, according to Imbarrato, he made two separate threats to shoot two sidewalk counselors.

Police confiscated his weapons after the incident, but apparently plan to return them, according to pro-life activist Bud Shaver.

“No charges have been pressed against the guy,” said Shaver. “The police confiscated the weapons, but he may get them back. Father Stephen is trying to get in touch with the mayor’s office.”

Such threats are old hat to Shaver, a veteran activist who describes himself as a “pro-life missionary.”

“I was threatened one week ago. A month ago a woman was choked, and the police did not respond.”

Shaver described these two incidents in detail.

“A man told me to quit talking to him or ‘I’m going to push you into the street and stomp you to death.’ He said that within two inches of my face.” In the earlier incident, “a sidewalk counselor was saying ‘we care about you, God loves you and your child.’ A woman who was belligerent about being spoken to ran up to a counselor, put both hands around her neck and told her to be quiet. The woman being choked called police. They did not respond.”

Imbarrato contends that Albuquerque police are more sensitive to complaints from the abortionists than the pro-lifers.

“A no parking sign mysteriously showed up in front of the abortion mill. When we parked there, the abortion mill complained and the police showed up in no time at all,” he said.

Imbarrato also is disappointed with the Albuquerque media. Describing the August 28 threats, he said, “Ten police cars showed up. They were there for two or three hours. They made everybody come out of the building with their hands up. Albuquerque TV only covered the story two or three days later, when they got the information from the Operation Rescue website. Then the Albuquerque Journal picked up on the TV. The media in Albuquerque don’t monitor the police scanner? It defies imagination.”

In spite of the threats and violence faced by activists, Project Defending Life has been very successful in its efforts to save the lives of unborn babies, according to Imbarrato.

“We’ve had hundreds of turnarounds, and more than a hundred babies born in our ministry in the past two years.”

In addition to its work on the streets, Project Defending Life provides assistance to new mothers.


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