The protesters who faced off along Lomita Boulevard in Torrance Wednesday had staunchly opposing views on abortion.
And many of them vehemently disagreed on other issues: premarital sex, the definition of family values and even Vice President Dan Quayle’s remarks linking the Los Angeles riots with societal decay.
But as they held high their signs, some people in both camps agreed on one thing: They sprang to the defense of the character of “Murphy Brown,” who as a single mother gave birth to a son Monday on the popular prime-time television show.
Monika Moreno, an Operation Rescue spokeswoman, called “Murphy Brown” one of her favorite television shows, and she praised the title character’s decision not to have an abortion.
“She did choose life. And being a single mother is a challenge,” Moreno said.
Murphy Brown also had loyal defenders among abortion-rights picketers, many of whom attacked Quayle’s criticism of the fictional journalist’s choice to have a child alone.
“She made a choice, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Debra Berman, local chapter co-coordinator of the National Organization for Women.
Nearly 60 people in all, roughly half opposing abortion and half favoring abortion rights, were present at noon for protests along Lomita Boulevard.
Nine obstetrician/gynecologists in two buildings are being targeted by Operation Rescue and the South Bay Pro-Life Coalition, which are holding noon pickets outside the buildings each Wednesday this month as part of a “No Place to Hide” campaign.
But for the first time Wednesday, abortion-rights supporters staged a counterprotest, many waving “Keep Abortion Legal” and “Honk for Choice” signs.
The anti-abortion protesters are singling out the doctors because they want to “expose” them to their patients, neighbors and the community, organizers said.
“Doctors and patients don’t like to see the results of what’s going on inside,” said J.T. Finn, director of the South Bay Pro-Life Coalition.
Finn said that “people should wait until they’re married to engage in sexual encounters,” but if women do become pregnant, they should not terminate the pregnancy.
“That was a pro-life position,” he said of the “Murphy Brown” episode. “I’m very pleased with that.”
Others had different views.
“The choice for most women is not the one that Murphy Brown had to make” since the fictional TV star can support herself and a child, Berman said.
If Brown had decided on an abortion, Quayle probably would have disapproved as well, added abortion rights picketer Beth Stewart.
“I guess Murphy Brown can’t do anything, according to St. Quayle,” she said.