Abortion protesters target a clinic landlord’s in-laws


Todd Stave founded a group, Voice for Choice, to turn the tables on the anti-abortion protesters harassing his family. (Ricky Carioti/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Petula Dvorak
Columnist May 3, 2012

In-laws? Are you kidding me?

Abortion protesters who want to shut down a Maryland clinic have tried a pretty ridiculous new tactic that targets — get this — the in-laws of the guy who leases the building to a doctor.

Petula is a columnist for The Washington Post's local team who writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas prices, among other things. View Archive

Todd Stave’s in-laws came home to their Baltimore neighborhood Wednesday to find fliers up and down the street urging the shutdown of a women’s health clinic in Germantown that offers late-term abortions.

How do they ask for this? With high school yearbook photos of the landlord’s wife, Randi, along with the names, address and home telephone number of her parents. (Plus the usual bloody and graphic fetus photos.)

“What happened to your neighbor after she met and married Todd Michael Stave?” the flier said, in horror-movie letters dripping with blood.

Stave has been subjected to stuff like this his whole life. His father was a doctor who provided abortions in Maryland, and Stave grew up seeing protests and even a fire-bombing at the clinic.

Now, he owns the building and leases it to LeRoy Carhart, one of the few doctors in the nation to admit to performing late-term abortions.

Stave said he is totally fine with the protests near his clinic; that’s about freedom of speech. But after protesters marred back-to-school night and his daughter’s first day at middle school by marching with the huge, graphic photos and the home phone and address of the Stave family, he figured out a way to strike back. He assembled a group of supporters to call each of the protesters at home, flipping the script on the hundreds of phone calls he has endured in his family’s home.

In some cases, the protesters who harassed 11-year-olds at school got thousands of calls at their homes.

After I wrote about his twist on the protest, Stave’s group, Voice of Choice, grew to about 10,000 and donations poured in. Now, he plans to ask supporters to focus on the folks who targeted grandma and grandpa.

“They aren’t used to this; this isn’t their business,” Stave said. “They have no dog in this fight.”

Now imagine if all that time and energy that went into hunting down the Stave family in-laws, printing and dropping the fliers went instead into helping prevent just one unwanted pregnancy or supporting a single mom having a hard time raising a child on her own.

That’s the kind of thing that would make any in-law proud.

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