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Abortion photographs cause strong reactions along street

June 15, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Gorman Palmer, 71, of Hagerstown, said he spent part of the weekend at his granddaughter's guitar recital, and later this week he plans to take two of his grandsons fishing in Pennsylvania.

On Monday morning, Palmer was among dozens of anti-abortion activists standing along West Washington Street in Hagerstown. Some held graphic photos that the activists said were of fetuses that were aborted.

"Of course, it's very gory, so to speak. But this is the truth, so it's not misleading," Palmer said.

The event was organized by Baltimore-based Defend Life. Some drivers honked in support of the activists and their graphic posters, others jeered the activists.

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Palmer stood next to a 5-foot-tall placard that held a photo showing part of an aborted fetus on each side. He said he hoped to target "anybody that would have an abortion, or have any part of it."

Palmer said he's shown photos like that to three of his six grandchildren.

"The younger ones, they wouldn't understand it anyhow," Palmer said. "I would want to teach my grandchildren that this is something they shouldn't do under any circumstances."

This was the fourth year Defend Life has conducted its Face the Truth Tour in Hagerstown. This year a box-style truck with graphic photos of aborted fetuses on its sides also cruised through town.

As people drove and walked along West Washington Street, the photos caused some strong reactions.

"That's incredible. I think it's sickening," said Deon Thomas Sr., 31, of Hagerstown. "I just got up. I walked out the door and I see a picture of a baby's head on a poster. ... Whether they want to get an abortion or not ... this is going a little too far here."

Beverly Pendarvis, 37, who was with Thomas, said she doesn't believe abortion is right but believes people should have the option in extreme cases such as rape. She said she did not like the photos.

"This upsets me," Pendarvis said.

A driver on West Washington Street said he did not like the photos.

"I really don't think this is cool. ... The woman has a right to choose," said Ronnie Cole, 20, of Hagerstown.

Carolyn Frazier, 46, of Hagerstown, said she was not bothered by the photos.

"I think that everyone has a right to speak their mind. ... I don't mind them being here," Frazier said.

Theresa Webster, 38, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said she brought her five children with her to the street rally. She and her children held posters depicting aborted fetuses along the street.

A male driver pulled over to the side of the street and stopped his car next to Webster.

"Why would you just show pictures like that on the street?" the man asked Webster.

"It's sick!" a girl in the man's car said to Webster.

Webster shrugged it off.

"That's the first time someone confronted me," Webster said. "And I'm glad they did. It shows they're thinking about it."

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