More than 150 pro-life activists gathered Oct. 17 to peacefully and prayerfully protest a newly opened Bethesda abortion clinic operated by Dr. LeRoy Carhart, the controversial Nebraska abortionist who in his former Germantown, Maryland facility performed abortions on women through nine months of pregnancy.

During a press conference in front of the Wildwood Medical Center Building at 10401 Old Georgetown Road, national and local pro-life leaders addressed the crowd and urged them to pray for abortion-minded women, their unborn babies and for the conversion of Carhart.

“We are here today because LeRoy Carhart, one of the most notorious late-term abortionists in America, moved his gruesome baby-killing business to a new address,” said Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, speaking on Oct. 17. In August, Carhart’s Germantown abortion clinic, which opened its doors in 2010, closed. Last month, the property was sold to The Maryland Coalition for Life, a pro-life organization.

In seven years of Carhart conducting late-term abortions in Germantown, Grossu charged that at least 10 women were rushed to hospital emergency rooms by ambulance, suffering from life-threatening complications as a result of the risky abortion procedures he performed on them. She also cited a 2013 maternal death after a late-term abortion performed by Carhart in his Germantown office.

“It is so sad to see the opening of this clinic, to know the atrocity of late-term abortion is happening here,” Mary Forr, director of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Department of Life Issues, told the Catholic Standard prior to the start of the press conference. “We need to pray, pray for the women, pray for the conversion of hearts and for the end to the evil of abortion.”

Michele Hendrickson, the East Coast regional director for Students for Life, urged the crowd, especially the dozens of young people gathered, to “cover this place in prayer” and to continue to stand up for life. “God is on our side. God is bigger and God always wins,” she said.

Susan Abel, a sidewalk counselor outside Carhart’s former Germantown location, said she witnessed many women change their minds and walk away from a scheduled late-term abortion during the past seven years.

“Women and men are sold hopelessness and despair by those who benefit financially from abortion,” she said.  “When people pray, you have tremendous impact...Life is always a gift. You are making a difference.”

Lauren Handy, founder of Mercy Missions DC and STOP Carhart, pro-life coalitions working to stop Carhart from performing abortions here, charged that Carhart’s new clinic is operating without a proper medical license from the state of Maryland.

“We do not want him in our Bethesda community. Carhart is bad business... Women’s lives are at risk everyday this illicit facility continues to operate. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has the responsibility to insure quality care in Maryland’s healthcare facilities,” she said.

Two complaints were filed by Operation Rescue with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and with the Maryland Board of Physicians on Oct. 13.

More than two dozen high school students from Brookewood School, an all-girls Catholic school in Kensington, attended the protest and prayed the rosary after the press conference.

“I know many families who have children with disabilities. I know it’s hard for them, but those children are a gift to those families,” said Kaylor Stroot, a Brookewood senior, referring to the late-term abortions Carhart claims he performs at 20 weeks gestation and beyond after parents receive a difficult prenatal diagnosis. “And when they talk about women’s rights, they don’t mention the rights of unborn baby girls who are killed.”

Christine Armstrong, a mother of five daughters who attend Brookewood, said, “I think this is the greatest witness to our faith, to stand up for what we value most, which is life.”

Father Patrick Lewis, parochial vicar at the Church of the Little Flower, Bethesda, led the group in a closing prayer, asking God to turn the hearts of all those involved in the abortion industry nationwide and at Carhart’s new Bethesda abortion business. “Let this be a place of healing. We ask for mercy and forgiveness...Mercy on our land that we may be a land that respects life at all stages.”