Council Resources (Forms, Degrees, etc.)
Lawrence P. Grayson
LeRoy Carhart, the notorious third-trimester abortionist, was dealt a setback, but not stopped. Pro-life groups are disappointed, but not discouraged.
On October 17, the day Carhart planned to open an abortion clinic in Bethesda, Maryland, more than a hundred individuals and representatives from several pro-life organizations gathered nearby to protest his presence. Sidewalk counselors were in the area. The rally opened with an invocation by Pastor Charlie Baile of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church and ended with a prayer from Fr. Patrick Lewis of Little Flower Catholic Church. That evening, a candlelight prayer vigil was held.
Operation Rescue had previously filed protests with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Board of Physicians. The abortionist, in turn, cancelled all appointments for the week, and opened on October 23.
Carhart had operated as a contract abortionist at Germantown Reproductive Health Services, located about 15 miles north of Bethesda, since December 2010. That clinic -- one of only four in the nation at which abortions were performed throughout the entire period of pregnancy – was shut down after being purchased by the pro-life Maryland Coalition for Life. The closing on September 29 was a moment of thanksgiving for the pro-life groups that had been praying and protesting Carhart’s activities for more than six-and-a-half years. The moment, however, was short lived.
Two weeks later, it was announced that the abortionist was opening a new clinic in Bethesda. This was not unexpected. The man is tenacious regarding abortion, increasing his activities each time he suffers a loss. In 1991, when an extremist burned his barn in opposition to his abortion activities in Bellevue, Nebraska, Carhart declared, “I decided I wasn’t just going to be a provider, I was going to be an activist.” When President George W. Bush signed the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, outlawing that gruesome procedure, Carhart brought suit, but the Supreme Court upheld the ban.
When an anti-abortion fanatic killed late-term abortionist George Tiller in 2009, Carhart announced that he “would carry on his legacy by performing some later-term abortions in his clinic in Bellevue.” Then, when Nebraska lawmakers passed a law banning most abortions after 20 weeks from conception, Carhart opened a second facility in Maryland, where abortions can be performed through all nine months of pregnancy. With the persistence of a zealot, the 76-year old Carhart and his wife would fly every few days to perform abortions in both locations each week.
In Germantown, he operated from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday. In his new Bethesda location, he initially announced that abortions would be performed six days a week, but then scaled back to his previous schedule, splitting his time between his Nebraska and Bethesda clinics.
Carhart’s record of providing for the safety of his patients is hardly stellar. During his years in Germantown, at least ten women were rushed to hospital emergency rooms with life-threatening issues. As Carhart does not have admitting privileges at any hospital and has been known to leave the area shortly after an ambulance departs with a critically-ill patient, the emergency room physician is deprived of medical information about the incoming condition of the woman. Jennifer Morbelli, who was 33-weeks pregnant, developed severe bleeding shortly after her abortion, and was rushed to the emergency room of a nearby hospital where she died. Carhart could not be contacted. Wendy Devine developed complications after her abortion procedure, required extensive emergency surgery in a nearby hospital and nearly died.
Carhart may be resolute in providing abortions, but the pro-life community is equally determined to save the children.
Andrew Glenn is one of the founders of Maryland Coalition for Life and the director for 13 campaigns of 40 Days for Life in Germantown, during which several thousand volunteers, including members of 30 area churches, prayed peacefully in front of the Germantown clinic for almost seven years. In speaking about that effort, he said: “I think a lot of Christians who had been on the sidelines woke the sleeping dragon, just coming to the realization that late-term abortion was happening in our neighborhood. Multiple denominations, both Catholic and non-Catholic, got involved together. We just prayed and asked God what we could do to stand up and help these women who are faced with unexpected pregnancies and difficult situations.” He believes the same response will occur in Bethesda.
A Monday morning prayer group, similar to one which operated in Germantown, is expected to be announced soon. Lauren Handy, founder of Mercy Missions DC, stated that there will be a candlelight vigil every Tuesday evening near Carhart’s clinic. Pastor David Sayne of Wildwood Baptist Church has promised the involvement of his parish. Two coalitions, PrayForBethesda.com and STOP Carhart, were formed to help pregnant women choose life for their children and to exhort Maryland authorities to enforce health and safety policies.
Carhart can continue his lucrative practice of late-term abortions because the United States is only one of 7 nations in the world that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is now being considered by Congress, is enacted, it is doubtful the abortionist would remain in Maryland. The law would protect pre-born children from twenty weeks gestation, the same limitation Nebraska imposed which caused Carhart to come to Maryland. The bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on October 3, and President Donald Trump has signaled his strong support for the legislation promising to sign it if it reaches his desk. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expects the Senate will vote on the measure.
Some may be discouraged by the enormous efforts that have been expended to stop abortion, with seemingly little progress. But we should take hope in the words of our Lord as expressed in the Book of Malachi (3:14-15, 18): The faithful have said “It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command…evildoers prosper, and even tempt God with impunity.” But the day is coming, the Lord continued, when “you will again see the distinction between the just and the wicked; between the one who serves God, and the one who does not serve him.” God’s mercy and justice will prevail.
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Published November 2017