SAN DIEGO — Hundreds of anti-abortion demonstrators picketed San Diego clinics and rallied in Balboa Park Wednesday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.
About 400 people rallied in the park to protest the decision and to urge people to support anti-abortion legislation. The demonstrators also handed out lists of area clinics that perform abortions. About 30 demonstrators picketed the Planned Parenthood building on 5th Avenue and the 5th Avenue Medical Building, a women's health clinic.
Protesters were also expected later in the evening at a pro-choice reception at the Sheraton Harbor Island West Hotel for Frances Kissling, executive director of Catholics for a Free Choice.
At Womancare, a feminist health clinic on 6th Avenue, seven people were cited by police for violating a court injunction to remain on the opposite side of the street from the building. About 150 demonstrators showed up at the clinic, which is across from Balboa Park. Police said there were no incidents of violence and no arrests were made.
Joan Patton, president of the Right to Life Coalition, said that police were "bowing to pressure from Womancare and not allowing demonstrators to exercise their First Amendment rights."
The Coalition for Reproductive Choice, made up of a broad base of San Diego women's and civil rights organizations, used the anniversary of the court decision to kick off a "picket pledge" campaign. Deborah Fleming, executive director of Womancare, said people are being urged to pledge a sum to be multiplied by the number of right-to-life picketers at Wednesday's rallies. Fleming said the money will be used for women who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion and also do not qualify for Medi-Cal.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women announced that a major pro-choice march will be held in Los Angeles March 16. NOW officials said they expect several thousand marchers representing 100 organizations from throughout the Western United States to participate in the march, which will start in Century City.
Also in Los Angeles, more than 1,200 Catholic schoolchildren were bused in for an hourlong prayer vigil across from City Hall, which concluded with the singing of "We Are the World" and the release of 50 white pigeons and 50,000 white balloons.
Los Angeles Archbishop Roger M. Mahony spoke at the vigil, denouncing euthanasia, the weapons race and the death penalty--as well as abortion. "The sin of abortion is most deadly because it strikes at the very essence of God, creator and author of life," Mahony said.
"Once any person concedes that a particular life is vulnerable to extinction--whether in the womb, in a glass container in some laboratory, in a hospital for the terminally ill--then all human life becomes vulnerable."