WAMU 88.5 : News

Maryland Landlord Gives Voice To Abortion Rights Supporters

Play associated audio

This month, abortion rights opponents staged a demonstration in Germantown, Md. to mark the one-year anniversary of the arrival of Dr. Leroy Carhart, a physician who provides late term abortions. The clinic, as well as the owner of the building where Carhart provides the procedure, has been the focus of protests in the past year. Now, that building's owner says he's found a way to fight back.

Target of aggressive protests

This past September, a group of anti-abortion activists gathered outside of the Robert Frost middle school in Rockville. They'd been trying for months to get landlord Todd Stave to end his lease with the Reproductive Health Service Clinic, and Dr. Leroy Carhart. Stave refused and now activists were raising the stakes by picketing  his daughter's school, during "back to school night."

"Not only did they have the graphic posters, but they also had a banner with my photograph, my phone number, my email address and something along the lines of 'stop the child killing.'"

That evening, Stave was approached by other parents at the school who were troubled by the protest, wanting to help. Stave says in the days following, he was inundated with phone calls from abortion rights opponents -- that's when he decided to turn the tables.

"And I gave them, the people who asked how they could help, specific instructions -- Call these people. Tell them, 'The Stave family thanks you for your prayers, we've heard your pleas, and no, we're not going to do anything about it.'"

From reaction to movement

Soon, the grassroots effort grew from 20 volunteers to an organization of 5,000 people called "Voice of Choice." Stave calls it a measured response to harassment he feels is wrong.

Jack Ames, the director of Defend Life, the group that organized the middle school protest, has received a phone call or two from Voice of Choice.

"We got a flurry of phone calls for a few weeks, but we're big people, we can take that, and people do have the right to exercise their First Amendment rights like we do," Ames says. "There's a lot of them making these phone calls to try to intimidate us, but it's not going to work. We're going to continue our efforts to expose Todd Stave."

Ames says he doubts Stave has gained any ground with his efforts. Stave hopes the unwanted attention will cause some activists to think about how their message is conveyed, he says.

NPR

On Television, More Transgender Characters Come Into Focus

Now that it's more common to see gay characters on TV, is the medium turning to transgender people for fresh stories? NPR's Neda Ulaby looks at TV's crop of transgender and "gender fluid" characters.
NPR

Obama Gets A Taste Of Jiro's 'Dream' Sushi In Name Of Diplomacy

On the first leg of his Asian tour, the president stopped by the iconic sushi restaurant. David Gelb, who directed a documentary about the restaurant, says eating there is amazing and nerve-wracking.
NPR

Pennsylvania Congresswoman Goes All In For Obamacare

Does Rep. Allyson Schwartz's pro-Affordable Care Act television ad signal a new thinking among Democrats running in statewide races?
NPR

Reports: FCC Poised For About-Face On Net Neutrality

According to reports, the FCC is set to approve a system in which Internet service providers offer a faster pipe to American homes to content companies willing to pay for it.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.