Abortion protestors plan to gather at doctor's office

By Thomas Wilson

   Members of an abortion alternative service in Elizabethton plan to protest near the office of a local physician they say performs abortions.
   Angie Odom, Abortion Alternatives and Women's Center, said she and other citizens planned to conduct a peaceful protest today near the office of Dr. Ed Perry on Hudson Drive. "We don't feel that this is right," said Odom, who added a handful of people had been protesting outside the office since last week.
   She said local citizens interested in the protest planned to meet with members of the Tennessee Right-to-Life organization on Tuesday night. She said protestors had also met with LifeChain, a Christian organization, that give Pro-Life advocates the lowdown on how to peacefully protest.
   "Instead of anyone saying anything, you don't talk," said Odom. "Basically, you just stand there in prayer, which is what we do."
   The issue of abortion has divided Americans politically for decades. The issue has become a rallying point for conservative Christians who oppose the practice and civil libertarians who champion the right to privacy protected by the U.S. Constitution. The battle has played out at abortion clinics and national media in the "Pro-Life v. Pro-Choice" debate since the late 1970s.
   In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the historic Roe v. Wade decision that granted a woman the right to have a legal abortion. According to the Supreme Court decision, then Justice Harry Blackmun divided pregnancy into three trimesters and ruled that, aside from normal procedural guidelines, a state has no right to restrict abortion in the first six months of pregnancy, or the first two trimesters.
   The Court also ruled that in the third and final trimester, the state has the right, although not an obligation, to restrict abortions to only those cases in which the mother's health is jeopardized.
   A second and perhaps less well-known case decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, Doe v. Bolton, expanded the right to abortion up until the child's birth, if the mother's health was at stake, the pregnancy was the result of rape or statutory rape, or if the fetus would be born with severe defects. It is this second case many Pro-Life advocates feel is at the heart of the present day partial-birth abortion debate.
   Odom said she realized abortion was legal and protected, but said communities could ban together to show their displeasure with the practice. "We need to get the community aware of what is going on," said Odom. "It is kind of like the hidden secret of our town."