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Voices and images of Summer of Mercy 2.0, Summer Celebration of Choice

Chris Slattery, a former Operation Rescue organizer in the 1980s, said that the inaugural Summer of Mercy, which was held in Wichita, Kan., in 1991 to target the late Dr. George Tiller, brought in nearly 60,000 protesters, large caravans, milk trucks and combines.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/choice-truck.jpgA “CHOICE” Truck, operated by the organization Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, driving up and down Wisteria Drive during Summer of Mercy 2.0 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

Twenty years later, in Germantown, Md., the Summer of Mercy 2.0 sequel targeting Dr. LeRoy Carhart has seen a considerably smaller crowd. Security guards policing the cordoned-off section of Wisteria Drive near the intersection of Executive Park Drive, where Carhart’s clinic is located, estimated under 200 protesters for both the Summer of Mercy 2.0 and Summer Celebration of Choice protesters on Monday, the first weekday in the nine-day protest.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/prochoice-family-150x150.jpgProtesting Summer of Mercy protest as part of Summer Celebration of Choice, Aug. 1, 2011 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

Instead of caravans and combines, only one truck displaying blown-up images of an aborted fetus and the word “CHOICE” drove up and down the street. Cars passing through honked past both anti- and pro-abortion rights protesters. But for the most part, the street remained relatively quiet.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Chris-Slattery-150x150.jpgChris Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care in New York, protesting at Summer of Mercy 2.0, Aug. 1, 2011 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

Kurt Linnemann, co-director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform in Maryland, told The American Independent he wished there were larger crowds at this year’s Summer of Mercy.

“We’re here testifying to life, that life is precious, from conception to natural death,” Linnemann said. “[Carhart is] extinguishing life of precious [babies] in the womb.”

He said he did not think the two sides of the abortion debate could ever reach a consensus on abortion, even on issues such as pregnancy prevention.

“I think at some point in pregnancy, the [abortion-rights advocates] acknowledge that it’s a baby,” he said. “We believe life begins at conception; they believe viability is 21 weeks. Where we change is they say it’s okay to kill an innocent baby.”

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/graphicposters-300x198.jpgBlown-up images of aborted fetuses held by anti-abortion-rights protesters during Summer of Mercy 2.0, Aug. 1, 2011 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

For Sergio Zambrana, a college student at University of Maryland-College Park living in Rockville, Md., the abortion issue is part of a larger issue about class struggle and workers’ rights. Zambrana told TAI he doesn’t belong to any organization but learned about the protest through the socialist publication The Militant.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Sergio-Zambrana-150x150.jpgSergio Zambrana, 21, third-year college student at University of Maryland – College Park, protesting at Summer Celebration of Choice, Aug. 1, 2011 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

“I’m here for a woman’s right to choose whether she wants an abortion or not,” Zambrana said. “It’s part of a bigger issue. … [Abortion] is a key issue for workers in general. In this society, most of the responsibility [of raising children] falls on women. Getting pregnant has a life-long impact.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Becca-Malloy-150x150.jpgBecca Malloy, nurse technician at Dr. Carhart’s abortion clinic in Bellevue, Md., holding up Feminist Majority Foundation sign at Summer Celebration of Choice, Aug. 1, 2011 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick).

“The question [in the abortion debate] centers around where life starts,” Zambrana continued. “That’s not why I’m here. It’s a serious attack on working-class solidarity. The issue is not really when life starts.”

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