Antiabortion demonstrators picketed two Washington area hospitals yesterday as part of a nationwide series of protests aimed at persuading hospitals to stop performing abortions.
"Hospitals are traditionally thought of as institutions of healing," said Curtis J. Young, executive director of the Falls Church-based Christian Action Council, which organized the "Pastors Protest Against Abortion" in 300 cities yesterday.
"When they perform abortions, they've perverted their very mission," he said.
Young said that hospitals, which perform about one-third of abortions, have "gotten off the hook for too long" as abortion protesters concentrated their picketing efforts on abortion clinics.
About 50 demonstrators, joined by a parade of about 150 marchers who also picketed three Northern Virginia abortion clinics, protested outside the Fairfax Hospital near Falls Church.
They carried signs that included slogans such as "Don't do business at a hospital that kills" and ones that said "Abortion doctors really make a killing."
About 50 protesters demonstrated outside the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, according to Takoma Park police.
The Fairfax Hospital protesters said they are organizing a boycott of the hospital and related facilities until the hospital agrees to stop performing abortions.
"We believe many members of the Christian community will decide not to go to those hospitals that perform abortions and go to hospitals where all life is cherished," said Young.
Hospital spokesman Lon Walls said, however, that he doubts a boycott would stop the Fairfax Hospital from performing abortions.
"As long as abortion is considered part of our mission in the delivery of health care we're going to continue to do it," the hospital spokesman said.
He said there were 271 abortions, primarily in the second trimester, performed at Fairfax Hospital last year, and 7,164 deliveries.
Chip Ward, pastor of the Covenant Life Church in Wheaton, which organized the Washington Adventist Hospital protest, said the group of abortion opponents selected that hospital because of its religious affiliation.
"We find it very inconsistent for a hospital run by a Chistian church to be practicing murder of unborn children," the minister said.
Hospital spokesman Reg Burgess said the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not condemn abortion, and abortions "aren't just performed willy-nilly at the hospital."