Anti-Abortion Protests Draw Thousands in South Bay

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators lined streets in South Bay cities as part of a series of demonstrations held nationwide Sunday.

Police said between 10,000 and 15,000 protesters lined 13 miles of roadway in Torrance and surrounding cities Sunday, forming a cross-shaped "life chain."

But organizers put crowd estimates as high as 25,000, and said the event was the largest of its kind in the nation.

The protest--which ran from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.--ended without incident or arrests, police said.

Many demonstrators arrived in buses directly from church. 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.

The demonstration extended into Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Hawthorne and Lawndale.

"It's time for the silent minority to speak out," said Bellflower resident Pat Thibodeaux, who with his wife and four children, ages 5 to 11, held signs reading: "Abortion Kills Children."

A few counterdemonstrators carried signs and walked along the route, 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.

The concept of the "life chain" demonstration originated in 1987, when an event in Yuba City attracted about 2,500 people.

Sunday's demonstration was one of hundreds held across the country and 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 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."

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