Many abortion-rights groups believe Dr. George Tiller’s 1993 shooting and eventual murder in 2009 was in part provoked by a 1991 summer event held in protest of Tiller’s late-term abortion practice. As The Florida Independent recently reported, that event is having a 20-year revival: Summer of Mercy 2.0 will unfold from July 30 to Aug. 7 in Germantown, Md., outside of an abortion clinic run by a provider, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, currently targeted by protests. This time, abortion-rights activists are turning out in solidarity with the target, Carhart.
Summer Celebration of Choice has been billed as a peaceful counterprotest to Summer of Mercy 2.0 and is scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 6 outside of Carhart’s Germantown clinic. The event is being sponsored by Carhart’s Nebraska-based nonprofit corporation Abortion Access Fund, Inc. (AAF), whose mission is to provide abortion funding for women who can’t afford abortions. (In addition to the Germantown location, Carhart also runs a clinic in Bellevue, Neb.) On the first day of the event, money will be raised during a benefit walk.
“Summer of Choice was launched in efforts to show America that we are Prochoice and we will not allow Summer of Mercy 2.0 to mirror the horror from 20 years ago,” said Lindsey Creekmore, co-board chair of AAF, in an email.
AAF has partnered with several abortion-rights organizations and activists to form theSummer of Trust in an effort to create a “peaceful prochoice presence” strong enough to counter the anti-abortion rights coalition, which comprises Operation Rescue, the Maryland Coalition for Life and the Christian Defense Coalition.
“Summer of Mercy 1991 was a catalyst to the following 18 years of harassment, legal battles, attempted murder and multiple clinic vandalisms directed towards Dr. George Tiller, which ultimately resulted in his tragic assassination in 2009,” Creekmore said. “Our goal is to show America that extreme anti-choice tactics will not be supported in Germantown, MD.”
Last month, the National Organization for Women (NOW) held its annual conference in Tampa, Fla., where members passed a resolution of support for both the Summer Celebration of Choice. NOW Action Vice President Erin Matson said the organization has shown strong support for Carhart ever since Tiller’s death in 2009.
“We need to be blunt about what’s happening here,” Matson said. “This is terrorism.”
Matson said that targeting abortion providers the way groups like Operation Rescue have targeted Tiller and Carhart is akin to terrorizing and stalking. She noted that following Tiller’s murder in 2009, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman announced that it was time to shut down Carhart’s clinic the way the group helped to shut down Tiller’s.
As The American Independent recently reported, Newman has claimed that members of his organization have taken a pledge of non-violence.
Matson said out that many women need the type of late-term abortions that Carhart provides because there is something fundamentally wrong with the baby or because the mother would be at risk if she were to carry the pregnancy to term.
“Dr. Carhart is a hero,” Matson said. “He stands up for women when it is unpopular, when he’s a target of terrorism, when people threaten his life. He is one of the best champions for women’s fundamental right to control their own destiny.”
Watch Dr. LeRoy Carhart discussing the Summer Celebration of Choice: