Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators lined streets in Los Angeles and Orange counties Sunday as part of a nationwide series of demonstrations.
Police said between 10,000 and 15,000 protesters lined 13 miles of roadway in Torrance and surrounding cities Sunday, forming a "life chain" in the shape of a cross. In Orange County, more than 1,500 demonstrators whistled and waved at motorists traveling on Harbor Boulevard and Imperial Highway in La Habra. The chain stretched for roughly 5 miles along both thoroughfares. Another Orange County demonstration drew abortion foes to the intersection of El Toro Road and Rockfield Boulevard in El Toro.
Organizers put crowd estimates as high as 25,000 for the South Bay event in Los Angeles County and said it was the largest of its kind in the nation.
The protests, which ran from 2:30 to 4 p.m., ended without incident or arrests, police said. The rally in La Habra began at 2 p.m. and lasted about an hour.
Many demonstrators arrived in buses directly from church. In Torrance, they chanted and cheered as they stood along both sides of Artesia and Hawthorne boulevards with anti-abortion placards, which they raised as passing motorists shouted approval or honked horns.
In La Habra, protesters held bilingual signs and wore neon-colored Pro-Life T-shirts that quoted Scripture. Many of the demonstrators included church parishes and entire families.
"People have to realize that abortion kills children," said Steve Trott of La Habra, who attended the rally with his wife and two small children.
Sandra Zielinski, 23, of La Habra, a member of the organizing group, Life Chain, said a successful Orange County rally earlier this year convinced planners that another local demonstration would encourage passersby and motorists to voice their opposition to abortion.
"I truly try to understand what the other side is saying," Zielinski said. "But there are people who are using abortion as a contraceptive and that is not right."
A few counterdemonstrators carried signs and walked along the South Bayroute, attracting stares and boos. "They call this a life chain, but what they want is to chain a woman to have a pregnancy she doesn't want," said Glenda McCarthy, a member of the National Organization for Women.
She and other members of NOW said they attended the demonstration not to clash with anti-abortion demonstrators but to express an opposing view.
Only a handful of motorists expressed displeasure with the La Habra rally. One woman drove back and forth along Harbor Boulevard in her car carrying a pro-choice sign.
The demonstrations were among hundreds held across the country, with 16 in Southern California, organizers said.
In Lancaster, about 2,500 people formed a human cross at the intersection of Avenue J and 15th Street West. The demonstrators said they wanted to make a visual statement to drivers without causing problems.
In Ventura, about 3,000 anti-abortion protesters formed a "life chain."
"People were complaining that they were loitering in front of their residences, but when the officers contacted them they moved right along," said Ventura Police Department Officer J. Schafer.
Ventura demonstrator Pam Snodgrass said: "I know that we're not going to change people's minds standing on a street corner with a sign. But if it makes a difference to one person, it's worth it."