Four antiabortion protesters, barred by a U.S. court order from entering a medical center in Fairfax County, yesterday defied the order, blocking doors to operating rooms and trying to persuade women in the clinic not to have abortions.
The four persons, two of whom were specifically named in the court order signed last month by U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke of Norfolk, were arrested by Fairfax County police at about 9:30 a.m. and charged with trespassing. About 15 others picketing the center were warned by police, the protesters said, but were not arrested.
In response to yesterday's action, lawyers for the Northern Virginia Women's Medical Center, filed a request in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to have the four demonstrators who were arrested yesterday, and nine other prolife demonstrators named in the court order held in criminal contempt of court.
A hearing on the request is scheduled for Thursday.
Arrested yesterday and released on their own recognizance were David J. Gaetano, 27, of 2509 Urbana Dr., Wheaton; Dianne Bodner, 19, of 4222 Guilford Dr., College Park; Jeanne Marie Miller, 18, of 2905 Barrister La., Bowie, and Mary Elizabeth McKernan, 18, of 10500 Arlington Blvd., Arlington.
If found in contempt, the protesters face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and an unlimited fine, according to the clinic's attorney Victor Glasberg.
The protesters entered the center at 3918 Prosperity Ave., "with the express purpose of saving lives of babies," said Mary Ann Kreitzer, a demonstrator named in the court order but who was not arrested. She said she and the other protesters will continue to demonstrate at the center "as long as abortions are still performed there."
"The killing is still going on, the babies are still dying and the women are still being exploited," Kreitzer said.
David J. Gaetano, one of those arrested at the clinic yesterday, said he did not consider the injunction issued by Judge Clarke to be valid law." Clarke would not allow testimony at the hearing last month that babies were being killed during abortions, Gaetano said.
"I don't think a judge can just say anything and that's the law," he continued." "It's like Nazi judges allowing Jews to be exterminated."
Sharon McCann, who runs the clinic, called the protests "bothersome. The antichoice people are making statements, they're dealing with people's feelings and lives, yet they break the law."
The conflict between the clinic and the demonstrators came to a head last February when the clinic asked U.S. Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. to bar the demonstrators from the center temporarily, which he did. The action followed a February demonstration in which a clinic employe was hurt and a pregnant woman allegedly was knocked to the ground.
The clinic went to U.S. court after two Fairfax County General District Court judges refused to convict the protesters of traspassing charges and the county prosecutor ordered police to stop arresting the activists because he could not win convictions.
After a two-day hearing last month Judge Clarke ordered the demonstrators barred permanently from the clinic. Two weeks later he outlined what the protesters cannot do.
Clarke said the demonstrators may not enter the building unless invited and may not protest on the centers private parking lot, impede the travel of people at the center or while the persons are entering or leaving.
The protesters also are forbidden to have anyone to disrupt the center for them.
Kreitzer said only six of the 11 people named specifically in the order were among the demonstrators yesterday.
Papers filed in court yesterday by Glasberg contended that those present may have "procured" others to demonstrate. He also alleged that those present yesterday "encouraged" others to act.