Defend Life demonstrators (top: left to right) Kelly Frederick, Katherine Adelaide, Joan Bell. (Bottom left to right): Rachel Carlucci, Olga Fairfax, Megan Carlucci. Credit: Photo provided

This article, originally published at 7 a.m. July 27, 2023, was updated at 4:45 p.m. July 28, 2023, to include comments from Del. Lesley Lopez.

Editor’s note: This article contains a graphic image.

A regional anti-abortion group, Defend Life, brought demonstrators and graphic posters this week to Chevy Chase and Silver Spring ahead of a 2024 ballot referendum that would enshrine abortion rights in Maryland’s constitution.

Founded in 1987, Defend Life has conducted its annual Maryland Face the Truth Tour since 1999, according to the group. This week, the tour was making 15 stops with the goal of advocating for “the victims of abortion – the family, the mother of the baby, dad of the baby and the actual baby,“ a spokesperson said.

The demonstrations prompted discussion on local social media platforms such as NextDoor, with speculation that police shut down the protests. Lauren Ivey, a spokeswoman with Montgomery County Police, told MoCo360 that the department did not intervene, and the protesters were abiding by the law and were not causing any type of disturbance.

Marylanders will vote in November 2024 on a state constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights. This spring, the General Assembly passed, and Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed the Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, teeing up the referendum. The Reproductive Health Protection Act also passed the State House this spring. It safeguards information on out-of-state patients who come to Maryland for abortions, as well as that of their abortion providers, from prosecutors or civil repercussions from states that have abortion restrictions.


The legislation followed the Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the federal protections on abortions.

Those protected rights in Maryland prompted Defend Life to use images of aborted fetuses from first-, second- and third-term abortions to “show the ugly truth of abortion in Maryland,” said Katherine Adelaide, 66, a six-year participant with the tour who lives in Carroll County.

A demonstrator in Chevy Chase Tuesday evening. Credit: Elizabeth Moseley

“I felt more than ever the tour is to educate people about what abortion really looks like,” she said.  


Adelaide is opposed to abortion being added to the state constitution, describing it as “redundant, overreaching, overbearing.”

This year’s tour started Monday in and around western Maryland before making its way to Montgomery County on Tuesday. Demonstrations gathered in the morning at Georgia Avenue and Evans Drive, near Evans Parkway Neighborhood Park in Silver Spring; in the late morning at Colesville Road and Sligo Creek Parkway in Silver Spring; and in the evening near Chevy Chase Circle in Chevy Chase.

Each of the three protests had about 20 to 25 participants with a few more staggering in and out, according to Adelaide, who is also a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee.


Montgomery County sisters and first-year students at Montgomery College, Rachel and Megan Carlucci, said they entered their fifth year on the tour with an urge to educate more young people on the tour.

“I’m hoping to change the idea of the youth and then to grab their attention and to maybe have a conversation with a couple and change their minds,” said Rachel Carlucci, 19.

With her participation in the tours, Megan Carlucci, 20, hopes to not only change the viewpoints of more in her generation but also end abortion in Maryland.


The sisters said the environment around this year’s protest was less heated than last year, when more people were upset and aggressive toward them following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“It hasn’t been too negative lately, but I have had some negative [comments]. I mostly get the positive,” Megan Carlucci said.

Del. Lesley Lopez (D-Dist. 39), who is president of the Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus and played a leading role in building support for this year’s reproductive-rights legislation, defended the protections.


“Adding reproductive rights to our constitution was such a priority for the past legislative session that the Women’s Caucus took a position on choice for the first time in 40 years,” said Lopez, who has announced a bid for the 6th District Congressional seat. “We [bucked] tradition to chart a new path and to show leadership on this issue because it was so important in light of the Dobbs decision [overturning Roe v. Wade].”

Lopez said the protesters were an example of extremism that’s been seen across the country.

“There is a very … vocal minority of folks who protest reproductive rights, but the majority of folks support reasonable, common-sense, reproductive-care measures, and I think that’s what we’re gonna see next November.”


The most important aspect for the anti-abortion protesters is educating others, said Olga Fairfax, 83, a 23-year tour participant and Montgomery County resident.

“I didn’t become pro-life until I saw a picture of an aborted baby,” she said. “I said ‘I can’t believe they’re killing babies.’ I couldn’t believe it. So, education, for me, was the number one issue. It became my life.”

The tour will continue this week with stops including Towson, North Baltimore, White Marsh and concluding in Catonsville on Friday evening.