GERMANTOWN, Maryland, July 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In July and August of 1991, tens of thousands of pro-life demonstrators descended on Wichita, Kansas in a dramatic campaign known as the ‘Summer of Mercy.’
Some laid down on the sidewalks and streets in front of the entrances to the city’s three abortion clinics. Police arrested an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 of them. The primary goal of the month-and-a-half long campaign was to stop all abortions in the city.
Twenty years later, pro-life organizers of the ‘Summer of Mercy 2.0’ say they hope to duplicate some of the successes of the original protests. The demonstration will take place from July 30 to August 7, mainly in Germantown, Maryland, which is roughly 35 miles northwest of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, who heads the Christian Defense Coalition and helped organize both this event and the original protest, hopes that through prayer and public witness no abortions will be performed during the upcoming protest, just as none were performed for 11 days at the three abortion centers 20 years ago.
The target of the protest this time will be just one killing center, Germantown Reproductive Health Services, at which LeRoy Carhart performs late-term abortions. Lindsey Creekmore, Carhart’s nurse, said that “not at this point” do clinic leaders expect to close the clinic during the protests.
Also, pro-life speakers at the event hope to activate those in attendance, just as their counterparts did in 1991. Fr. Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews he plans to urge the crowd at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland on July 30 to “get away from the theoretical debate and onto the streets and into the legislatures to this particular fight.”
But Summer of Mercy 2.0 differs from its predecessor in many respects, say organizers. Its strategy is more defined and its tactics more circumscribed.
Fewer protesters and protests are expected than twenty years ago. Instead of tens of thousands protesting abortion, a few thousand are expected. On each of the Saturdays and Sundays, organizers say, anywhere between 500 to 1,500 pro-life demonstrators will participate. Creekmore said they will be countered on each of those weekend days by 200 pro-abortion demonstrators, who will be staging a “Summer Celebration of Choice” event in Germantown from July 31 to August 7.
Also, Mahoney said that this time two Catholic archdioceses, those of Washington and Baltimore, agreed to co-sponsor the event. On August 3, some demonstrators will pray at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis and attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in downtown Washington. On August 4, demonstrators will pray outside of the office of House Speaker John Boehner.
While prayer was a component of the original Summer of Mercy, it will be the central component in this year’s strategy. Two rosary processions and several “prayer and praise” events will be held at the late-term abortion facility.
“Our intention is not to lay down in the middle of the road and block anyone from (going into or out of a) clinic,” said Michael Martelli, who is the executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Life and a co-organizer of the event. “Prayer has been absolutely successful.”
With fewer protestors and a larger emphasis on prayer, police are unlikely to arrest anywhere near the number of pro-life demonstrators they did twenty years ago. Martelli told LifeSiteNews that event organizers have been working closely with Montgomery County Police since last November.
As part of their agreement with local law enforcement, he added, pro-life demonstrators will pray on a grassy area on the corner of Wisteria Drive and Waters Road, a few hundred feet from the clinic’s southeast entrance. Pro-abortion protesters will demonstrate on a smaller area on the corner of Wisteria Drive and Executive Park Terrace, near the clinic’s northwest entrance.
Carhart opened his facility in Germantown last December after he abandoned his Nebraska late-term abortion business to escape a new law prohibiting abortions past 20 weeks based upon fetal pain.
“We ran him out of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana and kept him out of New Mexico,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who will also participate in the Germantown events. “Now he’s going to the Wild West of Maryland, where it is abortion anytime for any reason at all.”
Despite the differences between the past and upcoming demonstrations, pro-life organizers believe that the result will be the same: success. The wide publicity that will be given to the horrific late-term abortions that Carhart is legally permitted to perform is expected to awaken America further to the devastation of all abortions.
“This could start the downfall of abortion in America,” Martelli told LifeSiteNews, noting that the number of abortion clinics in the country has declined from 2,100 in 1991 to fewer than 700 today. “People are starting to realize the truth about abortion.”