About 300 antiabortion demonstrators stood quietly with placards and banners decrying abortions in front of Fairfax Hospital yesterday, as part of a national antiabortion protest led by the country's ministers.
The demonstrators targeted Fairfax Hospital because abortions are performed there, protest organizers said. The two-hour vigil, about a block long on Gallows Road, was part of a national day called the Pastors' Protest, said Bill Kynes, pastor of National Evangelical Free Church in Annandale.
"Our primary purpose is to bear witness to God's truth that every human life is worthy of life and every human life deserves to be protected," Kynes said. The protesters were not trying to stop anyone from going to the hospital, Kynes said. "These are not activists. They're just ordinary folks who came out because of the gravity of the issue, that human lives are being destroyed."
Closer to the hospital's entrance, about 50 demonstrators with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force, an abortion-rights group, held signs with slogans such as "We will keep the clinics open" and "Motherhood by choice, not by church."
Some task force members said that the antiabortion demonstrators tried to discourage people from donating blood to the hospital, the only emergency trauma unit in Northern Virginia.
Kynes, however, said that his demonstrators were not officially boycotting the hospital's blood banks. "There are some that feel that because of the abortion issue, 'I'd rather donate my blood somewhere else.' I can understand their sentiments, but it's not something I advocate," he said.
Jane Welch, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said that the demonstrations did not affect the facility's operations yesterday, and that blood donations had not decreased.
Welch said the hospital performs abortions because "it's a legal procedure." She said that in 1988, 129 abortions were done in the hospital. Welch did not have more recent figures. During that time, the hospital performed 80,000 to 90,000 other procedures, she said.
That same year, 181 abortions were performed by the entire Fairfax Hospital system, which includes Mount Vernon, Fair Oaks and Jefferson hospitals, Welch said.
While Welch talked to a reporter, an antiabortion protester and her daughter confronted Welch, asking her about fetuses aborted after eight or nine months in the womb. The little girl said, "They wanted to abort me too, and I'm alive."
Police said no arrests were made at the demonstration.