GERMANTOWN, Maryland, December 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The sound of public prayer pierced the chill outside late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart’s Germantown clinic this morning as hundreds of local pro-lifers gathered to make one thing clear: one year into Carhart’s Maryland business, the opposition, far from dying out, is stronger than ever.

A surprising number of cars on nearby Wisteria Lane honked in solidarity throughout the two-hour event, which focused on the power of prayer and staked its territory with 720 white wooden crosses - representing the estimated number of children killed at the clinic since Carhart settled there last December 5. (Carhart once claimed to perform 60 abortions per month.)

The rally concluded with speeches from several local leaders, including Michael Martelli, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Life, Chuck Donovan of the Susan B. Anthony List, and Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of the Department of Life Issues at the Archdiocese of Washington.

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The voices at the podium Monday morning stressed the crucial work of those who have come each Monday to offer help and prayers outside Carhart’s door, something they say is a witness to the whole world.

“Germantown is considered Ground Zero of the battle against abortion. All eyes are watching us,” said Dr. Grace Morrison, the founder of the grassroots campaign, who says she has missed only one Monday outside the clinic since Carhart moved in. “They’re watching how we respond to this. So we need to set an example for our nation, for the world, and say no.”

“If we place our children in the trash, then these are not times of peace,” said Morrison. “We may not hear the bombers flying overhead, but there is a raging war in the womb going on. It is the most dangerous place on earth.”

Coalition leader Michael Martelli recalled to the huge crowd Carhart’s dismissal of the initial pro-life response a year ago as a “flash in the pan.” “I don’t think this looks like it’s going away,” said Martelli. “Leroy Carhart is still here, but so are we. And we’re only growing in strength, and in numbers, and in influence.” 

One possible influence has been very visible: Martelli said that, ever since the nine-day Summer of Mercy event earlier this year, Carhart only been doing abortions at the Germantown clinic three out of four weeks every month, instead of the previous four. “So yes, it is working,” he said.

But the leaders noted soberly the work that lay ahead to get Carhart out of Maryland: just last week the Maryland Board of Physicians issued Carhart a non-disciplinary letter advising him to fill out license application forms more carefully, after pro-life groups had revealed Carhart lied on a license application about his abortion work Nebraska officials had once similarly dismissed Carhart’s falsifications when he practiced mainly in that state.

Maryland pro-lifers are also up against a state legislature that has taken a clear side in the abortion debate. Carhart fled to Maryland, where no abortion regulations exist, after his Nebraska practice was hampered by a fetal pain bill that took effect Oct 15. He had first tried to set up shop in Iowa, but lawmakers there moved to shut him out with their own fetal pain bill.

Leaders acknowledge that the battle to remove the notorious abortionist will be steeply uphill in a state that Planned Parenthood rated “A” for its lack of pro-life laws. “You know that we aren’t going to be the first state to outlaw abortion in this country. We’re all realistic about that,” said Martelli. But the coalition leader said this year’s convention of the Maryland Pro-Life Caucus, a bipartisan group of delegates and senators meeting in Annapolis, was a ray of hope for their cause.

Whether or not Maryland officials would listen, participants said that personal, on-the-ground witness was critical to their ultimate effectiveness.

“How could I live with myself if I didn’t stand up and say, this has to stop?” said pro-lifer Beth McQuin.  We’re united in this, that human life is sacred and a gift from God.”

Joan, a Gaithersburg resident and native of Nigeria, noted that the point of the peaceful demonstration was not “to disrupt anything,” but to change hearts. She said she hoped her presence would help Carhart realize the evil of abortion.

“By seeing our presence here, I’m sure some day his heart will be touched, and he will come to realize the grievous evil that he’s doing,” she said.