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Roe Vs. Wade Is Celebrated--and Denounced

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Singing in praise of reproductive freedom, more than 100 people rallied here Thursday night in a candlelight vigil and march on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade.

The abortion-rights activists were met in the downtown plaza by about two dozen abortion foes, who waved posters depicting bloody fetuses. Some demonstrators exchanged sharp words, but there was no violence.

The court’s 5-4 decision to legalize abortion in 1973 was hailed by Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and local leaders of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and other groups as a landmark for women’s and human rights.

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“The value we place on a woman’s right to choose is the value we place on her life,” Sanchez told a crowd gathered next to an alley off South Glassell Street and West Almond Avenue. The site was chosen, organizers said, to symbolize the threat of back-alley abortions if the historic decision were overturned.

“Being pro-choice is not about abortion, really,” said Libby Cowan, a Costa Mesa councilwoman. “Being pro-choice is about the right to privacy and the right to access.”

The demonstrators, heckled by their opponents, then marched through the alley and circled the intersection of Glassell and Chapman Avenue.

One woman holding a candle said she was attending her eighth such vigil in 11 years, and for her it was highly personal. Leslie Spero-Schneider, 39, of Fountain Valley, said she had an abortion in 1977, as a teenager, but is now a mother of two.

“I wasn’t born having those rights,” she said. “I know women that were a few years older than me who can no longer have children because of back-alley abortions.”

Passions were just as intense on the other side. One man holding the poster of a fetus yelled loudly throughout the vigil: “Why does this little baby die because of you? Because of your abstract political beliefs? Go ahead, celebrate!”

Mary Davis, 34, of Corona, held a sign that read, “Save the Baby Humans!!!”

“We want to let people know that we still think abortion is murder, we know that it is, and we want to put an end to it,” Davis said. “We’re not going to give up.”

While Orange County has a reputation for political conservatism, its voters appear to favor abortion rights. A Times Orange County poll in October 1996 found that six in 10 voters support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.


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