By Rebecca Henely and Christina Santucci
The president of the Choices Women’s Medical Center, which performs abortions among other women’s health care services, said protests against the clinic at its new Jamaica location have increased in recent months.
“Since we’ve moved the demonstrators, the protesters, have been escalating,” Hoffman said in an interview.
The center was once located in Long Island City, but moved to 147-32 Jamaica Ave. six months ago, Hoffman said. She said every weekend at the Long Island City site the clinic would have two or three regular protesters, but the opposition has gotten much broader and stronger since the move.
“I think the elections have something to do with it, and Operation Rescue called for 40 Days for Life,” Hoffman said, referring to a prominent anti-abortion organization’s nationwide prayer campaign.
About an hour after a pro-life march to the center Saturday morning, six young people remained across the street, praying the rosary and singing at the clinic. One woman held a poster that read in part “Life is precious and not disposable” and featured a small graphic photograph.
“We believe that every life is valuable. No one has the right to take a life,” said 22-year-old Catherine Urena, who is Catholic. “Just because a child is not fully developed doesn’t mean it is not a child.”
Clinic workers said Saturday’s protest, which also drew pro-choice demonstrators was peaceful, but Hoffman said many of the other rallies have been more violent. She had taken a video four weeks ago of a woman who was trying to enter the clinic being pushed against the wall and harassed.
“They’re screaming at women that they’re killing their babies or they’re committing black genocide,” Hoffman said.
She said she understood those who believe abortion is murder do so as a matter of faith, but that if they oppose abortions, they should not have one.
“I do expect [the protests] to continue and I just hope they will not break the law and try to be a little more respectful of women,” Hoffman said.
One protester, 23-year-old Geraldine Abreu, said she had felt mocked by the pro-abortion side during the rally that morning. Those protesting outside the clinic Saturday also said the election was turning more people’s attention to the abortion debate.
“It reminded me of what Jesus went through because he was mocked so much,” Abreu said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.