A controversial abortion provider plans to start a Bethesda office Tuesday, and abortion opponents have planned a protest for opening day.
AbortionClinics.org advertised on its website that it plans to start offering “advanced gestation abortion care” in Bethesda, in addition to an office it currently runs in Nebraska.
The Bethesda office is in Wildwood Medical Center building on Old Georgetown Road.
Its website says Dr. LeRoy and Mary Lou Carhart founded the provider in May 1992 “to provide pregnancy terminations, contraception and routine medical care to women and men in a compassionate, comfortable and personal environment.”
In 2010, Carhart started offering late-term abortions at a clinic in Germantown, one of only a handful of sites in the country doing that procedure. Carhart traveled frequently between Nebraska, where he also practiced, and Reproductive Health Services in Germantown.
The Washington Post reported in August that Maryland Coalition for Life, an organization that speaks out against abortion, had a contract to purchase the building, ending Carhart’s work there.
AbortionClinics.org lists the same phone number for its Nebraska and Bethesda offices. A woman who answered the organization’s phone on Monday afternoon referred questions to Chelsea Souder, the director of the Nebraska clinic. Souder was not in the office and would be back Tuesday, the woman said.
Opponents kept a close watch on Carhart’s practice in Germantown and protested against it often, particularly after a New York woman died in 2013 after she had an abortion there. The Maryland Board of Physicians found Carhart not at fault after investigating the death, citing “no deficiencies” in her care at the clinic, the Post reported.
The Maryland Coalition for Life posted on its website its plans to hold a press conference and protest outside the building at noon Tuesday. Activists also will hold a prayer vigil there at 6:30 p.m.
William Montrose, a principal with real estate company AMR Commercial, said Monday that he has received a number of calls and five or six voice-mail messages about the clinic since Friday.
AMR Commercial is a leasing agent in the building and its number is listed outside, but Montrose said his company was not involved in bringing in AbortionClinics.org. AMR Commercial only learned that a separate management company had directly leased to the clinic days after the agreement was signed, Montrose said.
He said the calls his company received did not contain any physical threats, but suggested that the new operation would hurt AMR’s business and reputation.
“I don’t want to say they’re threatening calls, but they’re more, I guess, pressing me to try to convince the owner to void the lease,” he said. “It’s not exactly like, ‘We’re coming to blow your building up,’ or anything, but kind of veiled.”
He said he thinks the clinic is a “bad fit for the building” because many children use the other medical facilities and the controversy it would attract.
“Typically, with any kind of business, you don’t want any kind of distracting noise outside your door,” he said.
No one answered at the phone number for the management company Monday evening.
A message left Monday afternoon for a representative of a company listed in state assessment record as the building owner was not returned.
Other tenants in the medical office building could not be reached for comment.