Police want limits on anti-abortion events

JEFFERSON, Ga. - The city of Jefferson's police chief wants a group of anti-abortion protesters to tone down their act and has asked the Jefferson City Council to adopt an ordinance to help him do that.

But the pastor whose church stages the regular protests says the Jefferson Lighthouse Baptist Church will fight any ordinance the city passes that would limit church members' right to express themselves.

A group of a dozen or more church members regularly gathers on Saturday mornings holding up signs with anti-abortion slogans and handing out anti-abortion pamphlets.

The church has held these weekend events regularly for the past 15 years, said the Rev. Kevin Whitman, the church's pastor for the past nine years.

But in the past few months, the church members have added two new visual aids - at first, a ketchup-covered baby doll, now replaced with large placards that purport to be photographs of aborted fetuses, body parts of fetuses and the like.

The baby and the fetus photos have horrified children and elicited a wave of unhappy telephone calls from residents, said Jefferson Police Chief Joseph Wirthman.

The Rev. Whitman said church members will resist any efforts to make them hide their graphic signs, just as they've ignored at least one threat from Jefferson police officers that the protesters could face arrest, he said.