An anti-abortion activist accused of trespassing and battery in connection with incidents at two family-planning clinics in the El Monte area is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday at Rio Hondo Municipal Court in El Monte.
Carmen Trujillo, 34, of South El Monte faces six misdemeanor charges, five of trespassing and one of battery, Deputy Dist. Atty. Melissa Maxwell said. Earlier this year, Trujillo was arrested twice at the Family Planning Medical Clinic in El Monte and once at the Greater El Monte Medical Office in South El Monte after she reportedly refused to leave the establishments when asked, Maxwell said. She was charged with battery after she allegedly shoved Eva Winchell, director of the Family Planning Medical Clinic, during a Feb. 2 incident, Maxwell said.
Trujillo, who is free on bail, could not be reached for comment. Deputy Public Defender Sylvia Patton, who is representing Trujillo, refused to discuss details of the case.
Trujillo, founder of the California Citizens Life Lobby, frequently picketed the Family Planning Medical Clinic, also known as Clinica Eva, clinic officials said, adding that neither she nor other members of her group have been seen there recently. But other anti-abortion groups have continued picketing the clinic.
In addition to Clinica Eva and the Greater El Monte Medical Office, anti-abortion groups have picketed the East Valley Clinic in West Covina, Family Planning Associates in Rosemead and the offices of Dr. Frank H. Robinson Sr. in La Puente. Robinson and officials of Family Planning Associates declined to be interviewed, but spokesmen confirmed that their offices have been picketed. Officials from the Greater El Monte Medical Office could not be reached for comment.
Most of the picketers are from the Calvary Chapel and a group called Life Crusade, both based in West Covina, their leaders said, adding that their active membership varies from 65 to 100.
Clinica Eva on the Valley Mall in El Monte and the East Valley Clinic--both private, nonprofit organizations--have been the primary focus of anti-abortion activity in the San Gabriel Valley for about a year. Picketers show up at the East Valley Clinic on most Tuesday afternoons, although clinic director Alicia Thomas said the days on which abortions are performed are not publicized and are varied to avoid confrontations with protesters. Picketers pace in front of Clinica Eva on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings carrying signs and passing out anti-abortion literature.
"I can almost set my watch by them," said clinic manager Mauricio Dominguez.
The picketing occasionally has led to ugly confrontations, with each side accusing the other of starting the trouble.
Operators of Clinica Eva and the East Valley Clinic say the anti-abortion groups try to harass their patients by showing pictures of fetuses, calling the patients "murderers" and trying to block their way. They also say they are concerned about the situation because of the nationwide rash of attacks on abortion and family-planning clinics in recent years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, 29 arson or bombing attacks were made against such facilities between January, 1984, and April, 1985.
In September, members from the West Covina chapter of the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-choice groups organized the Clinica Eva Defense Committee to escort women through the picket lines into the clinic.
In addition to Trujillo, another protester was arrested earlier this year after an incident in front of Clinic Eva, but no charges were filed.
Anti-abortion activists say they hope eventually to shut down the clinics, but that their immediate goal is to educate women about alternatives to having abortions. They said they will help women who decide to bear their children to find shelter, food and employment.
"When I approach a woman going in, I ask her if she would like to talk about alternatives," said Cathy Perez, a spokeswoman for Life Crusade.
Charlie Radcliffe, a minister at the Calvary Chapel in West Covina, said that women entering the clinic are told that they are killing babies if they have an abortion. "We don't use profanity or yell at them or anything like that," Radcliffe said. " 'Killing babies.' Yes, that's what I believe they're doing."
Perez, Radcliffe and other anti-abortion activists contended that the pro-choice groups have caused problems outside clinics by trying to keep the pickets away from the clients and that the confrontations sometimes have gotten physical.
Effect Not Clear
"I've seen some hard shoves," Perez said.
The effect of the picketing is not clear.
One 18-year-old man from Arcadia accompanying his fiancee to have an abortion at the Clinica Eva said the pickets did not bother them. "It's not an easy decision," he said, "(but) I believe people should make up their own minds."