Inside Dr. Carhart’s First Day in Maryland


While a crowd massed in the freezing wind Monday to protest Dr. LeRoy Carhart in front of a bank of TV cameras and a host of reporters, a different scene played out inside the warm, comfortable clinic where the physician spent his first day providing services in Germantown, Maryland. 

Inside, all was calm. Dr. Carhart welcomed patients with a friendly and assuring smile. The clinic staff went through their routine calmly and professionally. And Reverend Carlton Veazey – the president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice – talked to a young woman about the decision she had made as something very private, which involved her own circumstances and beliefs and her hopes for the future.

Others in the cozy waiting room listened intently – on one side, the patient’s mother and father and across the room, a young man and his partner who were holding each other. The patient’s mother was a woman of faith and she shook her head in agreement with Reverend Veazey, knowing that the crowd outside, in front of the cameras, had nothing to do with the reality of her daughter’s abortion decision.

Reverend Veazey talked about those such as the individuals holding the press conference who want to pass laws that would force others to abide by their beliefs. The patient’s mother again agreed, knowing that her daughter was doing what was best for herself, given her own life and hopes. She fully understood that religious liberty means the freedom – and right – to live according to one’s own beliefs, with respect for the dignity of others.

Clergy who are active with RCRC joined RCRC staff at the protest to demonstrate a religious presence in support of abortion rights and of Dr. Carhart, a former RCRC Board member. We had to be there, because the protest was framed as a “Christian” event and we needed to demonstrate that millions of Christians, Jews and others are pro-choice. As Alex McNeill, a Presbyterian and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School who is RCRC’s development director, told Fox News: “Problem pregnancies happen. I believe that God walks with us, even in dark and hard times and gives us the freedom to choose.”

The press conference was held by a man named Reverend Patrick Mahoney, who is a professional anti-abortion activist. I’ve run into him a few times – once at the 2004 Democratic convention, where he brought young women who had had an abortion to stand on the street and harangue delegates about abortion, and another time at a Planned Parenthood clinic, where he knelt in prayer, almost – but not quite – blocking the entrance (although he had gotten the day wrong and there were no abortion patients there). When I introduced myself yesterday, shortly after he arrived, he immediately launched into a verbal attack of Dr. Carhart and of me for supporting Dr. Carhart in providing needed services, including to women who needed a later-term procedure for serious medical reasons.

Patrick Mahoney does not listen and does not care about the facts. He has declared all-out war on Dr. Carhart. His tone of anger contrasts starkly to his claims to be peaceful and prayerful . There is a great danger in confusing what he says with what others hear. Mahoney is not himself inciting violence, but he is tacitly giving permission to act to persons who are violent. We who believe in human rights must speak out at every opportunity to educate people about why women have a later-term abortion and why we must protect that right.

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  • hands-full-blessings

    Let’s not forget that the babies who are being eliminated have no voice. 

  • kate-ranieri

    Gregory Bateson talked about the patterns that connect and, in the case of the rabid protesters, they have distinct patterns of behavior.

    • No, I’m not violent but I advocate for violence if someone else will do it. 
    • I’m out here in the name of Jesus/God to speak for the unborn
    • I’m not angry, you’re just mad because I tell the truth
    • Abortion is murder
    • No one is a Christian/Catholic/Methodist, etc, like I am. Just watch me

    They’re full of vitriol, anxious to spew and hesitant to listen. But worst of all they’re dangerous to providers, to the women and to any innocent bystanders. 

  • squirrely-girl

    … that fetuses aren’t babies.

  • jenh

    Let’s remember that fetuses are human beings.  Embryos are human beings.  While we’re championing human rights here… Abortion is the greatest human rights violation the world will ever know.

  • prochoiceferret

    Let’s remember that fetuses are human beings.  Embryos are human beings.

     

    No, they’re not, actually. They are human, because that’s in their DNA, but they are not yet fully-formed human beings in the sense that the term is broadly understood.

     

    Abortion is the greatest human rights violation the world will ever know.

     

    Isn’t it funny that no mainstream human-rights organization agrees with you?

  • rebellious-grrl

    Excellent post Kate!

    They’re full of vitriol, anxious to spew and hesitant to listen. But worst of all they’re dangerous to providers, to the women and to any innocent bystanders.

  • ack

    Considering that Carhart provides abortions to women with severe health risks due to their pregnancies or tragedies in fetal development, shouldn’t the protestors be outside their legislatures demanding funding for research on those conditions?

  • squirrely-girl

    … are potential human beings. And last time I checked, having potential wasn’t any kind of guarantee of actually being.

  • arekushieru

    …that fetuses that are born have no voice in whether or not they ARE born.

  • ack

    I’d bet that people who have survived BORN human rights violations, like the genocide and cultural elimination of Native people in the US, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Russia, persecution in Tibet, genocide in Rwanda, oppression of women under the Taliban, rape in the Congo… etc… etc… might argue that they experienced a completely different level of human rights violation than abortion. I could be wrong. But I’d bet on it.

  • jenh

    Not “potential human beings.”  Human beings with potential… to grow, change, learn, become, suceed, fail, love, and contribute.  Just like you.  We all have the potential to change and become more tomorrow than we are today.  That has no bearing on the fact that we are human beings now.  Calling the child merely a “potential” human being might make you feel better about killing her, but it does not change the fact that a human being has been killed.  Black people were once considered only a fraction of a person in order to justify enslaving them, but of course, that was evil nonsense.  So is this “potential” human being nonsense. 

  • arekushieru

    Calling the fetus a child might make you feel better about enslaving women, but it does not change the fact that an indisPUTable human being has been enslaved. 

    There, that’s better.

    If a fetus is a human being, are you willing to call sperm, eggs, cells, parasitic twins, fetus in fetus and hydatid molars human beings?  If not, hypocrisy.

    If a woman kills a fetus through abortion, then the fetus kills a woman through pregnancy, when she dies during it or childbirth.

    Can’t have it both ways.  Sorry. 

    Besides, a fetus can’t be a child, since it is not legally a child until it has been born and taken from the hospital.  

  • prochoiceferret

    Not “potential human beings.”  Human beings with potential… to grow, change, learn, become, suceed, fail, love, and contribute.  Just like you.  We all have the potential to change and become more tomorrow than we are today.

     

    Yes, and I suppose as soon as you put a brick on the ground, you have a house with potential… to expand into a luxury vacation villa, becoming more tomorrow than it is today.

     

    (Which provides more evidence for my theory that anti-abortion advocacy causes a severe drop in IQ…)

  • squirrely-girl

    When 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, I think potential human being is more than accurate. Or were you planning memorial services for all of those early miscarriages and zygotes that don’t implant?

  • crowepps

     Calling the child merely a “potential” human being might make you feel better about killing her

    Personally, I use the term “potentital” for the fetus in the first half of pregnancy as a result of my personal experience with two spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) after which I was told “these things happen”, “it’s not wise to be confident before the fourth month”, “there was probably something wrong” and by the doctor, ”this happens all the time”.

     

    Later reading of the studies coming out of fertility research revealed that a very high proportion of these natural losses are because the conceptus was malformed and the DNA involved was full of genetic error to the point it cannot form a viable fetus.  In addition, fertility research has revealed that 20 to 25% of ‘eggs which sperm enter’ remain just ‘fertilized eggs’ and don’t even become zygotes.  The fertilization just plain doesn’t work and no further  cell division happens.

     

    If losing the pregnancy “happens all the time” as a natural part of the process, to the point where at minimum 15% of those women who have abortions at 9 weeks would have had miscarriages ANYWAY, I really can’t see how anybody looking at the biological facts could possibly continue to believe ’sperm + egg = infant’.  That just is NOT reality.

  • crowepps

    Unfortunately, the research points to solutions that would be ‘bad for bidness’.  Anenchephalic fetus, just for instance, seems to be associated with living in an area with a high incidence of industrial pollution.

  • beenthere72

    Excellent reasoning, crowepps!