About 70 opponents of abortion demonstrated last night outside the Organization of American States building, where Planned Parenthood and Consumer Health Services of America were holding their black-tie fund-raising dance.
The demonstrators chanted "you're going to a dance for death" and waved banners at guests getting out of their cars, some of whom shouted back at the protesters. Police were called four times in two hours to quiet the crowd, and at 11 p.m. the representatives from the Washington, Virginia and Maryland groups left the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Inside, more than 300 guests, among them Mayor Marion Barry and Mary Dent Crisp, former co-chair of the Republican National Committee and spokesman for the event, filed into the dance, called "This Side of Paradise," buzzing about the protests outside.
"These people like to cause a great deal of trouble," said Mary Janney, executive director of Planned Parenthood in Washington. "They cannot engage in rational discussion. I'd sit and talk to them, but they won't listen."
"It's important to give women an option. Choice is the heart of democracy," said Crisp, explaining why she was there.
Tickets for the dance were $50. Those who made a $100 contribution attended dinner at one of the 10 host homes in the area. The hosts included Sarah Gamble Epstein, Clive and Susan DuVal, Nina Lunn Black and Janney.
Fund-raiser coordinators expect to raise about $50,000 from the evening, and it will be divided equally between the two organizations