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Catholics stage anti-abortion protest outside Germantown clinic

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 11, 2010; 5:40 PM

About 600 people gathered Saturday in an anti-abortion protest organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington outside an office complex in Germantown, where physician LeRoy Carhart was to have started offering late-term abortions last week.

"Our goal is to get Catholics aware of the situation with the state laws in Maryland," said Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the department of life issues for the archdiocese.

"Maryland is becoming a safe haven" for abortion doctors because of "the laxity of the law," Lopiccolo said, adding that Carhart came to Maryland from Nebraska.

The protesters gathered for Mass at 8 a.m. at Mother Seton Parish, filling the pews and standing in the aisles of the church, which is about a half-mile from the abortion clinic.

"We are called now to march, to pray full of love, not full of violence," said Father Carlos Benitez, pastor at Mother Seton.

The predominantly Catholic group, including several priests, parents and children bundled in hats and jackets, and a few people carrying anti-abortion signs, walked to the perimeter of the office complex where the clinic is located, softly chanting prayers and singing hymns.

No one appeared to approach the clinic or the protesters during the event.

"We're just celebrating life and denouncing the destruction of life," said Jessica Burris, 31, of Germantown, as she held her daughter Cecilia, who turned 2 on Saturday.

"I don't think it's our choice" whether to continue a pregnancy, Burris said, as her four other children played nearby. She said she is expecting a sixth child in May. "It's God's will," she said of her large family.

John Naughton, a retired program manager for IBM who lives at Leisure World, held up a wooden crucifix as he prayed. "This is horrendous what they are doing here . . . slicing and dicing babies who are fully formed and can feel pain," he said. Naughton said he participates in anti-abortion rallies every Saturday and recognized several "regulars" in the Germantown crowd.

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