Abortion protesters to return to Bel Air after successful lawsuit

The anti-abortion protesters who just won a federal case after being arrested three years ago are back to demonstrate again in Bel Air today (Friday).

Defend Life, a Catholic organization based in Baltimore, will again show violent images of dead fetuses at Route 24 and MacPhail Road between 4 and 5:30 p.m. today, according to its website.

The display is part of the group's 11th annual Face the Truth Tour, which includes 15 stops in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania andWest Virginia.

In 2008, 18 members of Defend Life were asked to leave Harford County and arrested by Maryland State Police troopers.

The protesters sued the state police, as well as Harford County and the town of Bel Air.

They recently won part of their case against the state police when a U.S. District Court judge agreed troopers violated the protesters' freedom of speech.

Maryland State Police officers said they were inundated with calls from upset drivers and were concerned the protesters were disrupting traffic with the large, graphic pictures.

Maggie Egger, co-director of the Face the Truth tour, said Thursday the group has been back to Harford County every year since the case.

The site of their protest is on the boundary line between the town of Bel Air and the county.

Egger, who was not personally arrested in 2008 or involved in the suit, said the group has nevertheless not been bothered since then.

"For the last three years we have stuck to the same place and haven't really had any problems," she said Thursday. "Last year [police] came out and said they weren't sure if we were breaking any laws…We reminded them about the lawsuit that hadn't been settled at the time."

She said state troopers wrote down her name and the director's name, but did not take any further action.

"Sometimes the police come out just to make sure we are obeying the law," Egger said. "I would be very, very surprised if they try to give us any trouble."

She said the group was pleased with the outcome of the suit.

"From everyone that I have talked to, they were very happy with the settlement," she said.

As for the feedback from passersby, she said it always varies.

"It's sort of mixed. We get some very negative responses and some very positive ones," she said.

Defend Life explains on its website that its activity is fully protected by the First Amendment and is necessary to show people the truth about abortion.

"Words alone cannot convey the horror of abortion," the website says. "People who see these images never feel the same about abortion again…If photos of abortion are too upsetting to look at, then abortion itself should be too upsetting to tolerate!"

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad