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Local anti-abortion activists' elaborate plans to protest LeRoy Carhart

November 12, 2010 - 12:00 PM
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LeRoy Carhart's Nebraska clinic (Photo: Associated Press)

This week, Nebraska abortion provider LeRoy Carhart, one of the few physicians in the country who will openly perform late-term abortions, announced his plans to expand his reproductive health practice to the D.C. metro area.

Maryland anti-abortion activist Jack Ames hadn't yet learned of Carhart's plans when I called him for comment Wednesday morning. Then, for over an hour, Ames detailed exactly what he plans to do to stop Carhart. “He’s about as welcome here as the plague,” Ames told me. “If Carhart comes in here, we’re going to be all over him.”

Carhart's impending move to the region (he's widely speculated to set up shop in Maryland next month, though he won't confirm the exact location of the clinic) has already proven a galvanizing force for area anti-abortion activists. "This is huge," Ames says of the impact of the news on the anti-abortion set. "He is one of America’s most notorious abortionists."

How will Maryland anti-abortion activists greet American's biggest name in pregnancy termination? A guide to their plans to protest Carhart's clinic:

Identification. "We need to do more intelligence work to find out who the abortionists are," says Ames, a 68-year-old self-employed Baltimore engineer. If a new abortion clinic opens in Maryland, one of Ames' first tasks will be to figure out who is providing the services. "Somebody has to show up and go into the building. Maybe you have someone literally camp out there and try to take a picture of anyone who goes in," Ames says. "Then you have to do some guesswork.You know, this person spends a lot of time there. He must be an abortionist because he always comes in 30 minutes after the clinic opens. He looks like he might be a doctor. If a man comes into an abortion mill, and he looks like he’s doing well financially, there's a good chance he's an abortionist."

Leafleting. “An abortionist has got to live somewhere,” says Ames. Once Ames' crew identifies an abortion provider, “We’ll leaflet his neighborhood. We'll tell his neighbors that hes’ an abortionist, he’s a baby killer," he says. "And abortionists don’t like that.”

Portraiture. Ames says that a graphic presentation on these fliers is essential. "When you see the guy who might be the abortionist, you snap a picture of him, share it with some friends," Ames says. "This is perfectly legal, getting their pictures. We can then use that picture to let their neighbors know who this abortionist is and where he lives."

Signage. “Sometimes it works to just put big signs on our cars—those light-up signs you put on top, like Domino's Pizza," Ames says. "Then you just drive through the neighborhood. It’s a variation on leafleting.”

Perseverance. “A lot of it is you just keep doing it. You keep doing it, you keep doing it," Ames says. "If you're leafleting someone because he's an abortionist, you just can't do it one time. Not in just one location. Ten blocks away from his house, there might be a shopping center, and you have to leaflet there, too."

Publicity. According to Troy Newman, head of national anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, any press about Carhart’s impending move to Maryland is bad for Carhart. (When I called Carhart’s office yesterday, a staffer informed me that he's not planning on granting any more interviews about the new clinics at this time).

“When an infamous late-term abortionist announces his plans to expand into Maryland, people are going to say, ‘not in my hometown,’" Newman says. "Everyone knows we need a place to dump nuclear waste. They just don’t want it done in their backyard.” In Carhart, Newman has found his news peg to push his anti-abortion agenda in the D.C. area. “There’s an interest now. People need to be made aware,” Newman says. “How long that passion will last remains to be seen.”

Legislation. “The laws in Maryland are as lax as just about any state in America," Ames says of the state's anti-abortion regulations. Says Newman, “We’re going to go to the state legislature and say, ‘Is this the sort of attraction that you want Maryland to be?’ Nobody wants to be the next abortion capital of the world.”

Counseling. “That’s one of the most important things we try to do,” Ames says of "sidewalk counseling," an anti-abortion tactic that attempts to convince clinic patients not to go through with abortions. If Carhart opens a clinic in the state, "We'll use our power of persuasion to talk these women out of having abortions. We'll do our best to reduce his clientele base."

Interference. Ames says that one of the biggest challenges to these "counseling" efforts is the presence of clinic escorts, volunteers who accompany patients into clinics in order to shield them from anti-abortion activists. "That’s a tough one," Ames concedes. "When you have these escorts—we call them 'deathscorts'—it becomes very difficult. We do attempt to convert the deathscorts. I might go up to one and say, 'You’re helping lead these women to the slaughter. What kind of man are you?' You try to appeal to their sense of honor, or if they're a man, their manliness."

Graphics. “I like to say that if wombs had windows, there would be no abortions,” says Newman. “Those pictures are a window into the abortion clinic. If we want to talk about what abortion is, let’s see it. Let’s line the sidewalks with those pictures of aborted children.”

But Ames says that photographic presentations of aborted fetuses are a matter of context. "A lot dependson the particular situation," he says. "If it's not a streetfront situation, and the women can drive in, the graphic signs are absolutely the way to go. You have such a remote chance of communicating with a woman, if you at least have a picture of an aborted baby, that could change her mind."

Phraseology. Pamela Palumbo, CEO of the Bowie Crofton and Severna Park Pregnancy Clinics, says that her organization doesn't have any plans to beef up its services in the wake of Carhart's move to the region. But she does have some choice words for the abortion provider. "It is a sad day for the state of Maryland to have late-term abortionists desiring to set up shop here,” Palumbo said in a statement. “Instead of being known as the go-to state to eat crabs, Maryland is becoming known as the state where women go to eat their children.”

Conversion. “We’re very peaceful people,” Ames tells me. “What we’re trying to do is end violence in the womb and peacefully retire these abortionists—not only retire them, but bring them over to our side. We don’t want them to lose their immortal souls. They were made in the image and likeness of the almighty God."



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  1. WonkyFactory WonkyFactory

    Wonky Factory

    Dec 01, 2010 - 09:31:01 AM

    I like to say that if wombs had windows, birds would probably crash into my tummy all the time and that would suck.

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  2. freewomyn freewomyn

    Serena Freewomyn

    Nov 13, 2010 - 08:22:08 AM

    That quote about eating crabs and babies is just straight up stupid. I'm glad that clinic escorts are an impediment to anti-choicers. That's why we show up. Something tells me that if Dr. Carhart needs people to come defend his clinic, he'll get the support he needs.

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  3. TJ TJ

    TJ T

    Nov 12, 2010 - 03:00:07 PM

    I really don't know what they could possibly say to a woman who is carrying something that they don't want. And is it really "counseling," or is it harrassment? And if they do successfully talk a woman out of having an abortion, what options are they giving her while she is carrying this thing that she doesn't want? Are they going to support her financially during the pregnancy? Are they looking to find a wonderful adopting family to take this child once it comes into the world? My guess is no, and that is the problem I have with extreme people like the ones in this piece. Their's is a very short-sighted view that ultimately helps no one, including the fetus they say deserves so many rights.

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