Summer of Mercy 2.0 groups work to close Carhart’s Maryland clinic
For the anti-abortion rights groups protesting in front of Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s clinic in Germantown, Md., this week, the objective is twofold: 1) End Carhart’s late-term abortion practice in Germantown and 2) Convert “pro-choice” activists to “pro-life.”
At the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., which is serving as a sort of home base for the anti-abortion rights groups sponsoring the Summer of Mercy 2.0, leaders kicked off the nine-day protest on Saturday with a string of sports metaphors:
From the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition: “Go low!”
From Operation Rescue President Troy Newman: “The pro-life movement can’t be a spectator sport. When you’re a player, you have the play to win!”
From Michael Martelli of the Maryland Coalition for Life: “Get in the game!”
Part of the strategy, the leaders said, is to reclaim the word “choice” from abortion-rights advocates. Leaders repeated throughout Saturday’s kickoff rally before the half-filled church auditorium that being “pro-choice” is having no choice at all. Relating the abortion debate to an ice cream shop, Newman said the “pro-life” side was like the shop that offers 31 different delicious ice cream flavors.
“You walk into Carhart’s clinic, and you only get one flavor,” Newman said. “But it’s not even ice cream. It’s eggplant-flavored ice cream.”
But perhaps a bigger part of the Summer of Mercy 2.0 strategy is to disparage Carhart’s name to the point that he will be run out of Germantown.
Newman told supporters that Carhart lied to the Maryland Board of Physicians on his medical-license application. In the lobby of Covenant Life Church, supporters were handed blank Maryland Board of Physicians Department of Health and Mental Hygiene complaint forms to fill out against Carhart. Newman said he is confident they can shut down his clinic within a few weeks.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, emphasized to supporters that this week was not about hate toward Carhart nor toward their opponents in the abortion movement.
“We do not hate you,” Pavone said, as though he were speaking to Carhart. “If we hated you, we would leave you alone. … What you’re doing is destroying you.”
He went on to compare Carhart’s clinic to a Nazi death camp.
“We’re talking about the human experience of killing,” Pavone said. “It’s the same whether you’re talking about when Cain killed Abel or Carhart killing our brothers and sisters today.”
Church ushers passed out graphic depiction of dilation and evacuation abortion (D&E) of a 23-week-old fetus. The pictures showed the limbs and skull being removed from a little baby.
Pavone said the majority of Americans who say they support a woman’s right to an abortion do not support late-term abortions, or only in rare cases. It’s to those people that the anti-abortion movement should be focusing the strongest efforts, he said.
“The word abortion has lost all its meaning,” Pavone said. “You’ve got to restore meaning to the word. … They’re not going to reject this business until they learn what this business is.”
Each speaker mentioned last Sunday’s Washington Post profile of Carhart, which quoted Carhart as saying that all the late abortions at his Germantown clinic have involved fetal anomalies. On a flatscreen TV, a young Philadelphia woman named Keisha (the spelling of her name has varied in different accounts) was interviewed from her home holding her newborn she claimed she would have aborted had she not run into the anti-abortion protesters outside of Carhart’s clinic. Keisha explained that her desire for a late-term abortion had nothing to do with the health of her baby and that Carhart was a liar.
On Sunday, Carhart told The Washington Post that he believes Keisha was a “plant.” He told the Post she called his clinic 15 times and that he doubted her story.
On Saturday, the Summer of Mercy 2.0 organizers solicited donations for Keisha’s family (to help her pay this month’s rent) and to help pay a $20,000 lease on a building the Maryland Coalition for Life rented in April across the street from Carhart’s clinic to be used as a “crisis pregnancy center.” All checks were to be made out to the Maryland Coalition for Life.