Dispatches from an Abortion-Rights Battleground: Germantown, Maryland

This week, Germantown, Md., became the latest front in the battle over a woman’s right to a safe abortion. Last Sunday, anti-abortion extremists launched a seven-day protest of Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s Germantown clinic. Since the murder two years ago of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion extremist, Dr. Carhart, who worked with Dr. Tiller at his Wichita, Kan. clinics, has become one of the primary targets of extremists.

Almost 200 pro-choice activists gathered for a Summer Celebration of Choice at the clinic, marching in support of Carhart and his protection of women’s reproductive rights. Here are highlights from the media coverage:

  • The anti-abortion protests were staged during a week in which the clinic had long ago announced it would be closed. The American Independent reports that some protesters have said they’ll stay on for another week to target patients visiting the clinic when it reopens Monday.
  • The Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.), which was on the ground defending the clinic, reports that pro-choice activists rallied in double the numbers of the anti-abortion extremists. The American Independent has additional photos and interviews from the choice celebration.
  • The Washington Post featured an in-depth profile of the man at the center of the storm, Dr. LeRoyCarhart, who travels from his home in Nebraska to the clinic each week. “I decided I wasn’t going to just be a provider, I was going to be an activist,” Carhart says. Far from daunted, Carhart plans to expand clinic services to include adoption counseling and health services for LGBTQ patients.
  • The Post followed up on the piece with a report on the March for Choice and the ongoing extremist action targeting the Germantown clinic. One local resident wrote in the comments on the piece, “Those of us who seek (and have for many years sought) treatment from health care professionals in the business park are collateral damage. Yesterday evening I was driving past, shocked that the entire place wrapped in police tape, as 5 Montgomery County Police cars moved to block the entrances. I wonder how children will see Dr. Mengers, the pediatrician, or patients make it to their therapy or PT appointments, or small business owners meet with their accountants. Or maybe that’s the point: make life difficult for those of us who seek services in the business park that we will want the clinic to leave.”
  • RH Reality Check profiled the diverse women’s rights activists who traveled to protect Dr. Carhart’s clinic–from young, college feminists to advocates for survivors of violence. Reporter Sunsara Taylor also notes that anti-abortion extremists are using the same tactics against Dr. Carhart that they used to harass murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller: “The Operation Rescue is targeting him for a week–but it is clearly much more than that. They have set their sights on him for life.”

More images from the “Summer of Trust” abortion-rights demonstration, by Flickr user World Can’t Wait under Creative Commons 2.0 (click an image to scroll through):

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Christie is a senior Journalism and International Studies major at Northwestern University. Recently returned from a semester in India, she is ready to take on international women's issues and the L.A. public transit system.