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Video: Hoag Abortion Ban Draws Hundreds of Protestors

Pro-choice and pro-life groups battled it out waving signs, chanting and shouting their abortion beliefs in front of Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach Thursday.

Supporters of women's right of choice rally outside of Hoag Hospital Newport Beach Thursday afternoon June 20, 2013 following the hospitals recent ban on elective abortions. (Photo credit Walt Weis)
Supporters of women's right of choice rally outside of Hoag Hospital Newport Beach Thursday afternoon June 20, 2013 following the hospitals recent ban on elective abortions. (Photo credit Walt Weis)
The street corners in front of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian were packed Thursday evening with crowds of protestors fired up over the hospital's recent decision to stop the practice of elective abortions.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including women, men, teens and children, lined Hoag and Placentia drives just before 5 p.m. holding up signs including ones that read "Abortion is Murder," "Hoag saves Lives," and "Protect Womens Health," chanting with bull horns, debating one another and shouting their feelings about abortion. The heated clash came just weeks after Hoag announced it would no longer offer elective abortions.

Hospital officials have said the choice was made by its board following a "clinically-led evaluation of several services" and was based on the "principle of providing the best available and highest quality health care for the communities we serve." Opponents allege the ban was religiously inspired due to Hoag's fairly recent affiliation with the St. Joseph Health System and its Catholic faith.

"Hoag had been doing this procedure for two decades," said Lori Vandermeir, communications director for the California National Organization for Women. "No one was standing on the corners complaining like they are today."

Newport Beach resident Sandra Mayhew, who gave birth to her two children at Hoag and has had mammograms done at the hospital, said she was disheartened to learn about Hoag's change of policy in May.

"This is disappointing to me," Mayhew said. "I hope Hoag hears the voices out here. Maybe it's the first step to making them reconsider."

Despite the protest, pleas and chants of "Shame on Hoag!" the hospital's policy on elective abortions will not be swayed, officials said.

"We respect the people and points of view in our community, and it is unfortunate that a decision made with the community’s best interest in mind has been misrepresented as part of a larger political agenda. It simply is not," Nina Robinson, Hoag spokeswoman, said in a released statement.

In May, Hoag CEO and President Robert Braithwaite acknowledged that St. Joseph's officials expressed opposition to abortions during the merger process.

"We knew it was an important issue to St. Joseph's, but our board stepped back and as part of their due diligence as part of the other services we were reviewing we looked at it holistically,” he said.

The decision to end elective abortions at Hoag was due to "many factors," including St. Joseph's opposition, Braithwaite said.

Dr. Peggy Pugh, who works at the Hoag Women's Breast Center, said she still has hope the board will change its position but is also worried about the fate of other healthcare services now that Hoag and St. Joseph Health System are affiliated.

"We were reassured this wouldn't happen when Hoag joined forces with St. Joseph and now it has," Pugh said in reference to elective abortions. "Many of us doctors are now worried that contraception and sterilization may also be in jeopardy and one day be discontinued."

However, many pro-life demonstrators, who seemed to dominate the protest, said they were proud of Hoag for taking a stance on preserving life and urged the hospital not to be pressured by its opponents.

"It's not for a woman to decide the fate of an unborn child, so we strongly support Hoag's decision," CJ Williams, a member of the group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, said. "There are other options aside from abortion like adoption."

"Abortion kills babies and kills women, and through this new ban Hoag is helping save more lives," Rachel McFadden, who attended the rally to show support for the hospital, said. "I applaud Hoag for doing the right thing." 

Maia Pellegrine brought her two little girls from their home in Rancho Santa Margarita to the protest at Hoag. She said she hoped the rally would teach the girls to stand up for their rights.

"I want my girls to always have their own opinions and stand up for what they believe in," Pellegrine, who opposes the elective abortion ban, said.

Pellegrine's 10-year-old daughter Sophia, said she was excited to be in the midst of the protesters.

"I heard a few honks to support us and our signs, so I think it's really exciting," Sophia said.

By 6:15 p.m., the crowd of protesters had started to disperse.

But that doesn't mean the debate is over.

"A lot of our members are Hoag donors, so we are going to start having them pull their funding," Vandermeir said. "We are also going to be having talks with Hoag's board to get to the bottom of this decision."

What do you think about Hoag's ban on elective abortions? Tell us in the comments.

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Skywalker June 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Pro-choice!
George V. Kent June 21, 2013 at 11:47 AM
It was clearly the Board of Directors' decision. At least they would have the courage state the reason: affiliation with Catholic St. Joseph Health System instead of the "holistic" stuff.
Jane Terry June 21, 2013 at 05:18 PM
It may or may not have been inspired by the new affiliation. What is the significance of that? I have never been in either camp - but after first reading about their decision, I found myself not only supporting it, but admiring their willingness to stand by their value system. They had to know of the militant resistance that would be levied against them, but rather than take the easy route of going with the "we've always done this before" mentality, they re-evaluated and made their decision. Good for them - after all, they are in the business of saving lives.
Donna Van Matre June 21, 2013 at 09:02 PM
There were MANY MORE PRO LIFE there supporting Hoag Hospital and their decision NOT TO HAVE elective abortions. Your writers seem to support the protestors. I was there at 4:30 and believe me protestors were in the minority!\
Cali native June 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM
So your writers believe people that showed up to support Hoag's decision are protestors???? There were not hundreds (or even a hundred) pro abortion protesters there and I wonder how many of them even utilize Hoag's services. Your writers need to be news writers and not follow the mainstream media's biased form of journalism. I support Hoag's decision to stand by their values and not to electively end human life
Chris June 22, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I noticed the video coverage of pro-life supporters are the people who are not too good in front of the camera, or look like wack jobs. I'm sure there were lots of people supporting Hoag who are not extremists, but intelligently support what Hoag has chosen to do FOR THE HEALTH OF WOMEN AND BABIES. Patty Humpreys, however, was not the best choice either for the pro-abortion side. She should definitely keep her day job and not plan on a career in public speaking. She also looked like a wack job. She went to NYU and UC Davis for college, so obviously was indoctrinated there by a liberal theology mindset which the pro-abortionists' camps espouse.
Chris June 22, 2013 at 09:06 PM
The profile of the reporter of this article is available by clicking on her name--it helps to consider the source when there's an obvious bias in the article published. Note: her profile reads with regards to disclosing bias in reporting that: [This disclosure is not a license for you to inject your beliefs into stories or to dictate coverage according to them. In fact, the intent is the opposite: we hope that the knowledge that your beliefs are on the record will cause you to be ever mindful to write, report and edit in a fair, balanced way. And if you ever see evidence that we failed in this mission, please let us know.] Guess we should let them know!? Oh, and she's in the media, so is a liberal Democrat, of course--the 'choice' to kill babies kind of goes with the politcal territory.
Robert Delarosa June 23, 2013 at 02:04 AM
what the hell,church and and state are not the same thing.We fight for the rights of others while taking our own away?I think and feel that a women can make up there own her mind.
Jane Terry June 23, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Robert: with regard to your last sentence - You are right that women can make up their own mind - but they need to do so BEFORE they have sex. To decide after-the-fact that they don't want a baby is careless, and irresponsible. I think men and women do not have the right to terminate a growing baby when it poses no health risks to the mother. If women want to control their bodies to the degree that they want to kill a budding new life, they should take control of their bodies before they get pregnant. I am concerned abortions have become more of a convenience than a necessity, and as a result, people are opting for it for all the wrong reasons. I realize contraceptions can fail - but that is the risk one is taking when one agrees to do the dance. If a couple gets pregnant, I would like to see them accept responsibility for that new life - see it through to delivery, and either offer the wee-one up for adoption, or raise their child. And if they choose the latter, they may just surprise the hell out of themselves. This is why I support Hoag's move.
Amused June 23, 2013 at 10:20 PM
It seems we have quite a problem being responsible for our actions......fate brings us opportunity - seize it. Pro Life!
Skywalker June 23, 2013 at 10:29 PM
So my daughter should be responsible for her actions of being raped on her college campus in a restroom and end up pregnant? Or is that what you call fate ?? Pro-Choice !
Jane Terry June 24, 2013 at 01:07 AM
There is no discussion needed that rape is a terrible violence. And how difficult it must be to carry to term a baby that came into being this way. But is it really okay to punish the baby because her/his daddy is a loser? I just can't go along with the mentality of "guilty by association", so we'll do away with you.
bingproperties June 25, 2013 at 04:20 PM
If I remember correctly, the name of Hoag Hospital Medical Center "way back in the olden days" was "Hoag Hospital - Presbyterian and. like ,many hospitals, was Church sponsored and maintained. Since ( I just recently learned ) the Hospital is merging with St. Joseph's Hospital ( a Catholic institution ) why does it seem so "odd" that the new organization will be "banning" elective Abortions ? Isn't on of the 10 Commandments "Thou shall not kill" ( it's actually Thou Shalt Not Murder, but that's a matter for Theologians to discuss ) I see nothing to "protest about. Elective Abortion is just that, ELECTIVE. If Hoag won't do it, go somewhere else. Your rights end where the rights of the Hospital start. Pretty simple decision to me ... As long as Emergency procedures are still permitted, no one is being "denied" access to necessary services ....

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