A report Tuesday misidentified Michael Connolly as an elder of the Covenant Life Christian Community, which has a membership of 700. He is an elder at the New Covenant Christian Community, which has a membership of 100.
For some local antiabortion activists, yesterday's apparent bombings of two Montgomery County clinics that support abortions raised anew the old moral dilemma of whether the ends justify the means.
Although leaders of the local antiabortion groups joined prochoice advocates to quickly denounce the use of violence at the clinics, some of the antiabortion groups' members were more ambivalent.
"Yes, it is just," said John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe, who was among 46 antiabortion protesters arrested Saturday at the Metropolitan Medical and Women's Center in Wheaton, one of the damaged clinics.
"Is it prudent?" he continued. "No. . . . It's just to respond to violence against people by destroying property. Human life is far more valuable than property.
"Pro-lifers are going to act. The battle of words ended years ago. Abortionists are no longer talking, they are acting," he said. "The question is what shape will the action take."
Said Jayne Bray, like Cavanaugh-O'Keefe a member of the Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Committee, "I am personally opposed to the destruction of property, but I respect the right of people who do it where babies are being slaughtered."
She said of the apparent bombers, "I don't know who they are . . . I know no babies will be killed today. . . . I'm not sad that clinic is not in operation today. I would be just as happy if it was struck by lightning."
Police were reluctant yesterday to link the Saturday protesters to the apparent bombing. "They have never been part of anything violent," said Montgomery Police Sgt. Bill Peterson, of the Wheaton district. "I always thought they were a very pleasant group of people."
Antiabortion activists said yesterday the apparent bombings looked like an attempt to sabotage their work when the number of protests is growing nationwide.
The Saturday protest, which drew 100 pickets, was the largest since 140 people were arrested in Gaithersburg in May.
There are four antiabortion groups that demonstrate in the Washington area. The Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Committee, founded in 1978, claims 1,000 members across the nation, two-thirds of them from Maryland. Women Exploited by Abortion is composed of women who have had abortions. A third group, the Wheaton-based Covenant Life Christian Community, claims a membership of 100. The newest group is Vietnam Vets Against Abortion.
The groups are increasingly diverse, say organizers. They include liberals and fundamentalist Christians, according to Harry Hand, president of Pro-Life Nonviolent Committee. "We're a cross section of people, on the right and left."
Hand said he was "shocked" by the bombing, which he denounced. "I was really angry about it happening. The work we're doing, it totally shoots it down. . . . There are a lot of minds and hearts to win over. Blowing up clinics only hardens hearts."
Even clergy who participated in the protests expressed mixed feelings about the apparent bombings.
"I would personally have a hard time speaking up against the bombing," said Michael Connolly, an elder at the Covenant Life Christian Community Center in College Park. "That's the ambivalence people feel. It's a horrible thing that babies are being killed. I think abortionists are murderers. I think they should go to jail. As Christians, our hope is still in God . . . , not in blowing up things."