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Abortion debate amicable at Hampdenfest

Pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates co-existed peaceably at Hampdenfest 2012.

But both sides made it clear they were standing firm.

Protesting next to the St. Thomas Aquinas Church's Respect Life booth was Minda Thorward, a 36-year-old attorney from the Hampden area. She held a sign that stated on one side, "Pro-child, pro-woman, pro-family, pro-choice."

On the other side, it said, "We will not go back."

Planned Parenthood did not have a booth at the fest, and Thorward said she was not representing them.

"I stand with Planned Parenthood," Thorward said.

Watching rom the Respect Life booth was Richard Montalto, of St. Thomas, known as Deacon Monty, a church deacon and anti-abortion activist.

Montalto wondered how the pro-choice forces would react if the roles were reversed. "Can you imagine if we picketed Planned Parenthood?" he asked.

But Respect Life Committee member Marty Taylor, who displayed models of healthy fetuses at the booth, shrugged off the pro-choice presence.

Taylor said that the booth, back at Hampdenfest after all church groups were barred last year, was glad that the booth was receiving attention, mostly positive but some negative.

"We're generating a lot of conversation," she said.

The Respect Life booth wasn't at Hampdenfest 2011. Organizers excluded churches, based on complaints that Respect Life was proselytizing at Hampdenfest 2010.

But Respect Life fought back, asking the Hampden Community Council to let them back in and saying they were being targeted for their religious views.

As the Baltimore Messenger took a photo of Thorward, Taylor held out a fetus in her hands to get in the picture. But Thorward didn't mind, saying, "I think it's important the other side is here."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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