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March 17, 2003

PROTEST: Director of Priests for Life decries practice in front of Mt. Baker Family Medicine.

Aubrey Cohen, The Bellingham Herald

About 150 people prayed and sang hymns in front of the only Whatcom County health clinic that offers abortions on Sunday to protest abortion.

"Innocent blood is shed in this place," the Rev. Frank Pavone told the crowd over a megaphone while standing in front of Mt. Baker Family Medicine - a Planned Parenthood-run clinic on Ellis Street that was closed Sunday.

"In Hebrew, the language in which the psalms are written, the word for womb is the same as the word for mercy," said Pavone, national director of the New York-based Priests for Life. "The building we're standing in front of today turns that place of mercy into a place of cruelty, of horror and of death."

Pavone came to Bellingham at the request of the Rev. Frank Schuster, chaplain at Western Washington University's Shalom Center and a pastor at Sacred Heart and Assumption Parishes.

"We're not going away until places like this, in fact every place like this, is closed forever," Pavone said. He urged people to return often, when the clinic is closed and when it is open.

Varied crowd

Those lined up in front of the clinic included seniors, parents with children and college students.

"Abortion should be stopped," said Dale Pollard, a Bellingham resident and a pastor at Hillcrest Chapel. "It is the killing of children."

Pollard said he wanted to get the word out that Mount Baker Family Medicine performs abortions. He came with his wife, Diane and daughter Amy, 8.

"We want young ladies to know that they have other choices," Diane Pollard said. "We've adopted two children."

Casey Karbowski, a 19-year-old Western Washington University student, knelt in prayer for much of the hour-long event.

"It's important to pray about these kinds of issues," he said. "I think people on the pro-life and the pro-choice side in America can agree that we need less abortions."

Gretchen Kruger said she did not oppose abortion until a couple of weeks ago, when she learned more about the process.

"I think there's better options out there than killing an innocent baby," said Kruger, 19, of Bellingham.

Disagreement

Alan Mill came to the clinic with Kruger and helped her hold up a sign promoting adoption, but held a differing view than most there.

"I personally am pro-choice," said Mill, 19, of Bellingham. "However, I think there is something morally wrong with abortion."

Protest organizers handed out pre-printed signs saying: "Abortion kills children," "Abortion hurts women" and "Jesus forgives and heals."

The biggest sign in the crowd, however, said: "Whatever you think about abortion, other people have the right to get one."

"I feel like somebody needs to present the other viewpoint," said Jim McLaughlin, the Bellingham resident who tried to keep the big sign upright in the wind.

Two more pro-choice counter-protesters stood across the street. The abortion opponents drew honks of support, opposing comments and some rude remarks from passing motorists.

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org