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Anti-abortionists take to the picket lines at GBMC Weekly vigil at hospital started in July.


As anti-abortion pickets waved poster-sized photographs of aborted fetal remains at evening rush-hour traffic, passing drivers often honked and made explicit gestures of support or condemnation.

As cars go by, "we either get a thumbs up, a thumbs down . . ." said Janet Munn of Overlea, who was holding up one end of an unfurled anti-abortion banner last night.

As she spoke, a group of clean-cut young men in a black Jeep slowed down to shout obscenities.

Munn was one of about 20 people who stood outside the entrance to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in the 6700 block of N. Charles St.

They have come every Wednesday evening since July 31, and some said they would keep it up until the hospital stops performing abortions.

Many other hospitals in the Baltimore metro area do abortions. But protesters said they chose this one because a woman inquiring about jobs there in July was told she would have to participate in abortions, regardless of her objection, if she were hired as a nurse to work in the labor and delivery unit.

David Brond, acting vice president of marketing at GBMC, said the woman could have worked in some other part of the hospital, such as the surgery unit, without ever being asked to help with abortions.

Brond said that, when the woman applied, the hospital had no opening for nurses in labor and delivery, but if it did, assisting in abortions would be one of the requirements for working in that unit.

"We do expect the people who work in that area to assist in the procedure," he said.

Providing abortions is part of being a "full-service community hospital," he said. "We don't plan on changing our policy."

Richard Wade, a spokesman for the Maryland Hospital Association, says the GBMC job requirement for labor and delivery nurses is common among hospitals in the state that perform abortions.

The two organizers of the protest belong to Defend Life, a local anti-abortion group whose activities include sponsorship of a lecture series. But the people taking part are affiliated with other groups as well.

"Part of what we're doing out here is to make people aware that this [abortion] is going on in community hospitals," said John Hergenroeder, one of the organizers, who lives nearby. "I don't want this kind of stuff in my community."

Hergenroeder said he hadn't made any formal demands on the hospital, partly because he was still trying to find out how many abortions take place there.

Brond said the hospital wasn't required to report its abortion rate to the state and the information is not accessible to the public. However, he did say that about 4,500 babies were delivered at GBMC last year, and abortions in the same period were "far fewer than that."

But protesters said they had sources among current and former GBMC employees who had told them the number of abortions done there was significant.

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