In one of the county’s first confrontations of its kind, a pro-choice group on Wednesday night carried out a protest at a Laguna Hills church whose pastor is active in sit-ins and blockades of anti-abortion clinics.
Carrying lighted candles and signs with pro-choice slogans, about 26 protesters peacefully greeted Stone Mountain Church members with chants of “Pro-choice, pro-life,” and “You run your body, let me run mine.”
“We wanted to let them know we do not appreciate what they’re doing,” said Patti Headland-Wauson, one of the organizers of Wednesday’s protest. “It’s about time they walked through us. We’re on the defensive so much . . . we wanted to let them know how it felt.”
The protesters belong to the loosely knit Orange County Pro-Choice Coalition of individuals from feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and United Feminist Network. They are not connected with vandalism that occurred at the Garden Grove field headquarters of Operation Rescue last week, Headland-Wauson said.
Stone Mountain’s Pastor Randy Adler, a local leader of Operation Rescue, a New York-based organization that defies court-ordered injunctions in blockading abortion clinics, hurriedly stepped past the protesters and into the church without comment.
Adler’s fiery rhetoric and literature have called for the “death penalty for all parties” involved in an abortion, including the patient, father, doctor, nurse and receptionist.
Pro-choice advocate Barbara Martinez of Planned Parenthood said in an interview before the protest, “It is essential that Orange County understands what we’re dealing with. We don’t accept this kind of rhetoric.”
Not many church members took notice of the protesters. Most just strode into the small, nondenominational, charismatic church where Adler spoke.
“The pro-choice people are verbally very provocative,” said church member Steve Madison of Capistrano Beach, who laughed at protesters. “They’re real media hounds.”
Adler said he believes that doctors who perform abortions should be convicted of felonies and that women who obtain abortions are accessories. He neither confirmed nor denied that he would seek the death penalty for women who obtain abortions. “If you say anything about the woman (being criminalized), they say you don’t have any compassion,” he said.