Starting Saturday, anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups will converge in Germantown, once again making the sleepy, suburban community the focal point for the broader abortion debate.
At the center is late-term abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart, whose office has drawn the attention of abortion and pro-choice advocates ever since , when Carhart announced his plans to leave Nebraska and open a practice in Germantown.
Anti-abortion protestors with Operation Rescue and Maryland Coalition for Life group have planned to launch on Saturday, what it’s calling the Summer of Mercy 2.0, a week of prayer vigils, speakers and rallying scheduled through Sunday, Aug. 7, according to the group’s website.
Pro-abortion rights supporters, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, plans to stage its own rallies— Summer of Celebration of Choice, which begins with a walk Sunday, July 31, and events scheduled throughout the week, though the organization has said on its website that it is not intended to be a counter protest.
There have been anti-abortion protests in Germantown ever since Carhart established his office, including a in January, whose timing was meant to coincide with the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court ruling that made abortion legal in the United States.
Anti-abortion groups argue that Maryland has become a safe haven for abortion and have across the street from Carhart’s, Patch has reported. Operation Rescue has also filed a complaint against Carhart with the Maryland Board of Physicians in April. When reached by Patch, a spokesperson with the Maryland Board of Physicians would not comment.
In his first extensive interview since he started working in Germantown, Carhart told The Washington Post that an attorney was handling the complaint. He also said in the article that he planned to expand his services to include adoption counseling, HIV/AIDS screening and preventative health services for lesbians, gay men and people who are transgender.