Germantown Reproductive Health Services


The Oxford English Dictionary cites selfless as an adjective to describe the relationship a servant has to God and a way of being that has little to no regard for the self. Similarly, other dictionaries define selfless as having little regard for fame, wealth or position; as having higher regard for the greater good. In my experiences, selflessness is a common denominator found in those in the pro-choice community. From lobbyists to legislators, volunteers to friends, counselors to nurses and from doctors to directors, these self-sacrificing individuals work for the greater good of women in need of safe, compassionate abortion services. They endure despite the vitriol of a well-funded, misogynistic minority Hell-bent on returning women to draconian servitude. Every single day, at home, at work, or in their church, doctors and clinic directors know they are the potential target of an unknown ‘prolife’ terrorist intent on killing them. Professional counselors recognize and must negotiate with the imposters, errant anti abortion moles attempting to discredit the clinics. The mother of a mother-daughter duo bumbled her way through a counseling session with directives and questions that not only revealed her anti abortion agenda but the (alleged) daughter’s lack of interest in the charade.

Even landlords have been the object of the fiendish anti abortion activists. When the MD Coalition for Life was upset with abortion clinic landlord Todd Stave because he refused their demands, they began protesting at Stave’s daughter’s middle school. But, rather than cave in to their demands to oust his tenant, a Germantown, MD abortion clinic, Stave turned the focus to the maliciousness of the MD Coalition for Life and others anti abortion zealots across the nation.

A common tactic, calling abortion-minded women selfish, is ironic when you consider that
the name-callers, the anti abortion activists, are the epitome of selfishness. They demand their free speech rights, their rights to hand out literature, their God-given right to save ‘babies’ (and sometimes women), and their right to impose their religious views on others. They are a bundle of self-serving, self-centered egotists. The evidence comes from frivolous lawsuits about imagined conspiracies and emotional harm (with NO regard for the emotional harm they inflict on women), from their constant boastful but unfounded claims of rescues, and from their slanderous attempts with police and human relations commissions to frame themselves as victims who are simply saints on a mission.

ImageBut the good news is that the selflessness of men and women across this nation who believe in women’s reproductive health rights lives on in the hearts and minds of millions. No amount of malevolent actions from the anti abortion-minded will thwart the fortitude, the compassion and the love for women who are in need of an abortion.

Abortion

Abortion

A short while ago, I got the word that there would be a “big protest” in front of Germantown Reproductive Health Services, an abortion clinic in Maryland.  It’s the clinic where Doctor Lee Carhart works a few days a week.  It had become a “famous” gathering site because Doctor Carhart performs later abortions.  It had been years since I actually saw a protest and a while since I had talked to Lee, so I decided to drive up to the event.

Abortion

Abortion

When I make the left hand turn off the main road that morning, I was immediately confronted by the usual “Big Dead Fetus Truck,” as we used to call them.  I am, of course, used to the pictures but I couldn’t help thinking about a mother and her child innocently turning that same corner and seeing this ugliness.

It was a big crowd, maybe four hundred anti-abortion protestors.  They were standing on the sidewalk in front of a large office complex and the clinic itself was in the back, not visible to the protestors.  What struck me right away was the silence.  I have been so used to loud, blaring bullhorns, people screaming at the patients, escorts and staff at the top of their lungs.  This event, however, was different and it seemed like anti-abortion activists may be exploring different ways of making their point.  Except for the truck, there were no other gross signs.  People weren’t screaming.  Instead they were singing and praying quietly in groups.  Some were carrying signs, but they were mostly signs about “regretting” ones abortion and other low-key messages.

There were several county police cars patrolling the area and I do have to say that I was disturbed to see them just watching a woman near the car entry way practically stopping card by holding out brochures for them to take.  I felt it was obstructing vehicular traffic, but the police let it go.

I wanted to visit Doctor Carhart, so I walked up to a police car.  They were understandably suspicious of who I was so I told them I would call Lee from my mobile phone.  I got him right away and he said of course I could come in.  So, I just told the police and they waived me in.  Later, I got chills thinking that I could have been a clever assassin who really wasn’t talking to Lee Carhart.  Yes, I still might have had a tough time actually entering the clinic because they had a buzzer system, but I also could have just waited right outside the clinic door where there were absolutely no cops.

I had a pleasant meeting with Lee and his wife.  While he was certainly aware of the scene outside, Lee is used to the attention and it doesn’t phase him at all.  We talked about his work, how the clinic was doing, conventions he would be going to and speaking engagements.  He was, as always, very laid back, almost like the “country doctor.”

When I left the clinic, I hung around, not talking to anyone except a few pro-choicers across the street, including Todd Stave, the founder of Voice of Choice, a group that organizes hundreds of phone calls to particularly aggressive anti-abortion protestors.  Then, I dove back into the crowd and, to be perfectly honest, was totally bored.

And I guess “boring” is okay in a situation like this.  They are exercising their right to free speech, they are not threatening anyone.  The cops are there to keep the peace if necessarily (although a little loosely) and every woman got to the clinic with no incidents.

Sometimes boring is good.