Nearly 300 people gathered in prayer Monday to protest the first day of business of Leroy Carhart's Germantown abortion clinic in Maryland.
The Nebraska abortionist debuted the Germantown Reproductive Health Services center, his first of three new clinics, on Monday. When he did, Carhart was met with by protesters and a prayer vigil.
"We in Germantown don't have any intention of becoming the late-term abortion capital of Maryland," protester Peter Sprigg told The Washington Post. Sprigg, who lives nearby, is a policy analyst for the Family Research Council.
The protest was planned by the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. In a weekend statement, Mahoney stated that the protest is a witness for the dignity of life and human rights.
"We also want to send a clear message to LeRoy Carhart that we will never be silent while women are being brutalized and innocent viable children are being killed. We will pray, march, rally and be a prophetic voice until the violence stops," proclaimed Mahoney.
Formally named the "abortion evangelist" by Newsweek, Carhart has been operating in Nebraska since 1985. He began performing late-term abortions after his colleague, George Tiller, was shot and killed last year. Tiller was one of few late-term abortion practitioners.
Carhart is now one of the few abortion doctors to offer patients late-term abortions. This has drawn a lot attention to his operations. Pro-life advocates frequently protested his Bellevue clinic. They also pushed for fetal pain legislation that would jeopardize his practice.
Seven months after Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks, Carhart announced plans to expand his clinic to three new states.
"We need a place where we can help our patients, without the harassment of the courts," Carhart told Omaha television station KETV.
According to National Abortion Federation CEO Vickie Saporta, Carhart chose the largely Democratic state of Maryland because its abortion laws are more progressive than his home town.
"Maryland is a progressive state and a woman's access to contraceptives, emergency contraceptives and abortion is better than many other states in the Deep South or the Midwest," Saporta told the Business Gazette.
The state has received an "A" from NARAL Pro-Choice America for its abortion legislation.
Maryland's Freedom of Choice Act prohibits the state from interfering in a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy at early stages or at any time if the termination procedure is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman or if the fetus is affected by genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality.
Mahoney said he and other pro-lifers are not going to allow Maryland become an abortion capital. He says regular protests are planned for outside the clinic and the surrounding office park.
"To the other tenants in the business park we simply say we will be a constant public presence and witness for life as we embrace justice for all," he said.
Operators of the office park told The Washington Post they have no way of evicting the clinic. "We have no jurisdiction over that business," said William Rinehart, one of the condominium association's board members.
Carhart, who plans to work part-time at the Germantown clinic, also plans to expand to Iowa and Indiana.