Four abortion protesters have chosen $500 fines over jail confinement for violating a federal judge's order barring them from demonstrating at a medical clinic in Fairfax County.
"We're not trying to be martyrs," said David J. Gaetano, 27, one of four persons cited for contempt of court last month by U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke Jr. "I'm not clear about what kind of symbol it would mean for me to go to jail."
Paying the fine "is what the judge asked us to do, to show respect," said Mary Beth McKernan, 18, who adamantly professed her beliefs against abortions at the contempt hearing last month although Clarke repeatedly told her he did not want to hear it.
The other two protesters cited by Clarke Diane Bodner, 19, and Jeanne Marie Miller, 18, could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Judge Clarke, of Norfolk, convicted the four contempts of court charges last month following an emotional three-hour hearing. The four "youngsters," as Clarke called them, were sentenced to the fine, 60-day suspended jail sentences and 90 days' probation. Clarke sternly warned the protesters that if they did not pay the fine within 30 days they would servce the jail term.
Earlier this summer Clarke laid down specific provisions for protests near the Northern Virginia Women's Medical Center, 3918 Prosperity Ave., which prevented demonstrations on clinic property.
Last month Bodner, of 4222 Guilford La., College Park; Miller, of 2905 Barrister La., Bowie; McKernan, of 10500 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, and Gaetano, of 2509 Urbana Dr., Wheaton, were arrested by Fairfax County police after they blocked doors to operating rooms in the center and tried to persuade women in the clinic not to have abortions.
The four will face trespass charges stemming from the incident on Sept. 12 in Fairfax county general district court.