Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a nationally known abortion provider, is slated to provide late-term abortions at Reproductive Health Services in Germantown, MD, starting on December 6th. In November, Carhart stated that he planned to open clinics in Iowa and the Washington D.C. metro area, after Nebraska passed legislation outlawing abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy.
Carhart was a colleague and friend of the late Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered during a church service by Scott Roeder on May 31st, 2009. Roeder, an anti-abortion extremist, was convicted of Tiller's murder in April of this year. After Tiller's murder. Carhart continued to perform late-term abortions while enduring considerable hostility from anti-abortion advocates.
Upon learning of Carhart's slated work in Germantown, Christian anti-abortion advocates have been up in arms. Operation Rescue and Maryland Right to Life have devoted considerable attention to the matter on their websites. Anti-abortion website Lifesite News has published disapproving articles about Carhart's arrival here and here, as has Christian Newswire here. A website called "Kick Carhart Out of Maryland" recently sprung up to spearhead protests against Carhart and Reproductive Health Services.
"Kick Carhart Out of Maryland" publicized a conference call with regional anti-abortion voices on December 3rd, a recording of which is available here. The call, featuring Operation Rescue president Troy Newman and Christian Defense Coalition executive director Rev. Pat Mahoney, encouraged listeners to take part in an anti-abortion rally near the clinic on December 6th. Mahoney cited Maryland's abortion-friendly laws as the reason why Carhart chose to go there.
"For the folks in Maryland, you have to understand what's at stake here. And what's at stake here is this: LeRoy Carhart is coming to your state because you have some of the most liberal and progressive -- and I use that in the negative way -- abortion laws in America. His goal is to make Maryland the late-term abortion capitol of America and perhaps even the world, because there will be people, if this practice is established, coming to your state from countries all over Europe, South Africa, Australia, Canada. So this is what we are facing this evening, brothers and sisters. We are facing him opening up this barbaric practice right in the shadow of our nation's capital."Mahoney described a four-pronged strategy for ousting Carhart, including prayer, an anti-abortion presence in the community, advocacy, and legislative change.
"We have four things that we are praying for, and remember, this is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Our prayer is that LeRoy Carhart never opens, but if he does, we have to make a commitment to God. We will stay. We will persevere. We will not grow weary in well-doing. And we're going to focus in four areas. Prayer is most important. We have to have a foundation of prayer. We saw that with 40 Days for Life. Even in your own state, an abortion clinic closed. Then we are focusing on public witness, having a witness out at the clinic in the community, strongly standing for these precious innocent lives. Advocacy. Crisis pregnancy centers. You know that in the last 15 years, there used to be 2,100 abortion clinics. Now there's only a little over 700 . . . If we say abortion is wrong, we have to reach out to the women who are facing challenging pregnancies. And then legislatively. The effort that Troy [Newman] led in Nebraska, it ultimately moved LeRoy Carhart out because of the legislative process."To protest Carhart's upcoming work, the Christian Defense Coalition will hold a press conference and prayer rally on Monday, December 6th at 11 a.m. in Germantown, MD, down the street from Reproductive Health Services. During the December 3rd conference call, speakers also hoped to rent an office space near the Germantown clinic for use as a crisis pregnancy center or "life center".
I'm startled that all of this is taking place in my region. I worry for Dr. Carhart, for Reproductive Health Services, and for the countless women who will seek reproductive health care at the clinic. We know all too well about the harassment inflicted on many abortion clinics by anti-abortion fundamentalists, as well as the violence that some anti-abortion extremists are capable of. Anti-abortion elements of the Religious Right have fought relentlessly against reproductive rights for decades, so expect legal challenges against the clinic as well.
In this tense situation, I still see much good. Dr. Carhart and the clinic will be providing a much-needed service, thereby helping countless women. I believe in Dr. Carhart and his colleagues. Those people have to have strong convictions and nerves of steel to do what they do, and I have faith that they will face these challenges bravely.
I also have faith in the level-headed people of the region. Maryland is a state with progressive abortion laws because pro-choice advocates worked hard to make it that way. I am eager to see how Maryland's pro-choice advocates respond to this situation.
To read my account of the December 6th press conference in Germantown, MD, click here. To find out how to support reproductive rights in Maryland, visit the following websites.
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
Planned Parenthood of Maryland
Reproductive Health Services
The Center for Reproductive Rights
For additional news and commentary on Dr. Carhart's and his slated work in Maryland, visit the links below.
Washington Post: Late Abortions Being Offered in Germantown
Baltimore Sun: Late-term abortion doctor to practice in Maryland facility
Gaithersburg Gazette: Late-term abortion doctor to start practicing in Germantown
Germantown Patch: Pro-life Groups Speak Out Against Carhart Late-Term Abortions
Newsweek: Why LeRoy Carhart Won't Stop Doing Abortions
Ms. Magazine: Dr. Carhart to Face Firestorm in Maryland, More Stalking