Abortion foes maintain Saturday ritual Protesters target Pasadena motorists

January 27, 1991|By Sandy Banisky

The temperature had just nosed past 20 degrees in Pasadena yesterday morning, and Michael King had to struggle against a pesky, frigid wind to keep hold of the placard he wore around his neck as he paced along the side of Ritchie Highway.

"Abortion has 2 victims. One dead. One wounded," the sign said.

For the last eight months, Mr. King has been a member of a devoted band of protesters that gathers amid the Route 2 gaggle of fast-food shops, car dealerships and strip shopping centers to stage a weekly demonstration against abortion.

"We're just a bunch of people from different Christian churches," Mr. King said, as steam rose from a cup of cocoa he held in his hand. "Just trying to get out the message that abortion kills. It's simple."

A few dozen yards behind him, in a brick building set off the DTC road, was the Gynecare Center, a clinic providing services that include abortion. About 100 anti-abortion demonstrators were arrested there in a protest last March.

Until last spring, the abortion opponents would gather just outside the clinic and try to talk to patients entering the building.

Gynecare officials deemed that harassment and succeeded in having the protesters moved off private property and onto a 10-foot public strip between a Denny's restaurant and the highway.

That's where they have stood vigil since, in shifts each Saturday morning, no matter what the weather.

With Mr. King yesterday were Gerard and Nora Cohee of Glen Burnie, parents of 13 children, grandparents of 25 -- with a 26th expected soon.

"Pro-Life is Pro-Women/We Care," Mrs. Cohee's sign read.

Her husband and Mr. King strode along the grassy strip, a two-man picket line trying to stay warm. Mrs. Cohee -- who has done volunteer work at a pregnancy center and has taught natural family planning courses at her Roman Catholic parish, Good Shepard in Marley -- stood still. "I want people to be able to read my sign," she said.

Some drivers wave encouragingly. But others don't like what they see. The driver of a passing pickup truck honked his horn energetically and leaned toward Mrs. Cohee to make an obscene gesture.

She was unshaken. "Maybe some of the people driving past us in the cars never thought about abortion," Mrs. Cohee said.

"Maybe this will raise the question in their hearts."

Mr. King said his dedication to the Saturday morning protest was rooted in the parable of the Good Shepherd. "There's a lesson that you have to confront the evil where it occurs."

Inside the Gynecare Center, Robert Jacobs, a vice president of the center, said some patients still complained about the protesters, even though they stand at the edge of the parking lot.

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