For 90 minutes Sunday, opponents of abortion will line the route from Baltimore's Inner Harbor down Ritchie Highway to the State House in a silent protest that organizers call the Baltimore-Annapolis "life chain."
They will hold signs that read, "Abortion Kills Children," and every 10th sign will read, "Jesus Heals and Forgives," Linda Smith, a spokeswoman for the event, said yesterday.
"We want to bring to people's attention that abortion kills children," Mrs. Smith said. "We're exercising our right of free speech. The people of Maryland must become educated that this is happening, that children are dying."
About 1,400 people so far have pledged to join the 2 p.m. demonstration, which is being organized through churches in Baltimore and Anne Arundel County, Mrs. Smith said. The event will begin with prayer at each of the information tables that will be set up beginning at 1:30 p.m. along the route -- including three tables at the Inner Harbor and one at the State House.
The organizers call the event, which is similar to demonstrations held in other states, "a stand of solidarity by area Christians."
"It's not under the jurisdiction of any other organization," Mrs. Smith said. "It's just a group of people who got together to organize this."
One target of the demonstration is the new abortion bill passed in February by the legislature. The measure allows abortion without restrictions until the time in pregnancy when the fetus might be able to live outside the womb. Later in pregnancy, abortion is allowed only to save the woman's health or if the fetus is grossly deformed.
Anti-abortion groups are working to bring the measure to referendum in November 1992.
Mrs. Smith said that demonstrators Sunday will be advised not to block driveways, not to obstruct traffic and not to engage in any arguments with passers-by. "We want everybody's attitude along the route to prayerful," she said.
Meanwhile, supporters of the right to abortion plan to stage a smaller counter-demonstration at Jumpers Hole Road and Ritchie Highway, in Glen Burnie.
"We think it's important that the pro-choice side show its presence,"said Judi Hammett of the Clinic Defense Task Force of Maryland NOW.
"It's important we show the public the anti-abortion minority does not speak for the majority of Maryland. Abortion is not as simple an issue as the other side tries to portray it," Ms. Hammett said.
Like the abortion opponents, Ms. Hammett said the abortion-rights demonstrators will try to avoid confrontations. "We don't question their right to express their opinion," she said.
The Clinic Defense Task Force was organized to counter anti-abortion protests that blocked entrances to abortion clinics, Ms. Hammett said. Sunday's protest, she added, "is better than their usual tactics. If they'd just stick to demonstrations, we'd all be happier."