An estimated crowd of 2,000 people pray for life on Dec. 5 outside the Germantown abortion clinic to mark one year since Dr. LeRoy Carhart began performing late-term abortions there.
An estimated crowd of 2,000 people pray for life on Dec. 5 outside the Germantown abortion clinic to mark one year since Dr. LeRoy Carhart began performing late-term abortions there.
About 2,000 protesters and more than 700 white crosses lined the road outside Dr. LeRoy Carhart's late-term abortion facility in Germantown on Dec. 5, the one year anniversary of his arrival to the area. The crosses represented the estimated number of abortions that Carhart has performed since he began work there.

Protesters held signs, sang hymns and prayed for the four women who had gone into Carhart's office to receive abortions that day.

Grace Morrison, who organized the event and who prays outside the clinic every Monday, said to the crowd, "Please do not be fooled into thinking we live in a peaceful society ... if we place our children in the trash."

Last year, Carhart left Nebraska to come to Maryland after his state passed a law prohibiting abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. He chose the Germantown location based on a number of factors, including which jurisdiction had the most favorable laws for abortion. Maryland law permits Carhart to perform abortions into the ninth month of pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes, about nine out of 10 babies born at 28 weeks survive.

Morrison said that while the efforts of pro-life volunteers in Germantown are not diminishing since Carhart's arrival, more volunteers are needed, especially on Monday mornings when he begins the late term abortion procedure that lasts three days.

"There is no more time for lukewarm Christians," she said. "It will be our sacrifice and our suffering that will change this."

People must be inconvenienced if they want Carhart's clinic shut down - changing their schedules and braving extreme weather conditions to come and pray in front of the clinic, Morrison said.

She added that many volunteers are already giving of themselves - one of the Monday morning sidewalk volunteers is a stroke victim and another volunteer comes in a wheel chair.

Morrison encouraged the crowd to get involved with a quotation from Pope Benedict :"It is not the sword that builds peace, but those who are willing to suffer and give up their own lives."

Michael Martelli, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Life, said progress has been made since Carhart's arrival. A pro-life pregnancy resource and referral center opened up directly across from the abortion clinic, 17 babies are known to have been saved from abortion, and the Summer of Mercy 2.0 as well as two 40 Days for Life campaigns generated awareness about the clinic in the community.

Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the Department for Life Issues for the Archdiocese of Washington, thanked the large crowd for coming and said, "We are here in strength and numbers, and we are not going away." She added that on Dec. 10 Cardinal Donald Wuerl will celebrate a 5 p.m. Mass at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown followed by a rosary procession to the abortion clinic. The Mass will satisfy the Sunday obligation.

Father Marcel Guarnizo, parochial vicar at St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg who volunteers as a sidewalk counselor every Monday morning, said praying outside the clinic is the least he can do with Carhart here, because Carhart has killed thousands of human beings since he began working as an abortionist.

Father Carlos Benitez, pastor of Mother Seton Parish in Germantown that is located just around the corner from the abortion clinic, said he prays for Carhart's conversion.

"The Lord is very patient. A thousand years is like a day for Him. He doesn't want the sinner to perish, but to return to Him," he said. "...The miracle would be if this man converts."

Father Francis Martin, chaplain at Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg and a retired professor from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, said he saw love and compassion - even for Carhart and his staff - on the faces of the people gathered to protest outside the clinic.

Father Martin added that he has hope that abortion will end in Germantown because even though "evil pushes, good is pushing back harder."

For more information about the ongoing Monday morning effort from 8-10 a.m. outside the abortion clinic go to www.prayforgermantown.com . Organizers have asked people who cannot come to pray during those hours.