by Matthew Sweeney (photographs by Renee Michael)
Brooklyn Papers (The Park Slope Paper), September 4, 2000
Bishop Thomas Daily led more than 200 people in a prayer demonstration August 26 outside an abortion clinic . . . in Sunset Park.
Demonstrators left from the Church of St. Michael on Fourth Avenue shortly after 8 A.M., processing behind image of the Virgin Mary and saying the rosary. The group walked around the block and on 43rd Street adjacent to the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Brooklyn, where it began an hour-long vigil, praying the rosary and singing hymns.
One member of the group stood outside the door of the clinic and attempted to speak with women as they made their way in, but she was put off by clinic escorts.
The demonstrators were met by a group of about 40 sign-waving counter demonstrators, who sang their own songs, including "Get Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries," and "This Womb Is My Womb."
The counter demonstration was organized by the National Organization for Women, the Brooklyn Pro-Choice Network and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Brandon Bolger, a Bay Ridge resident who joined in the prayer vigil, is part of a small group of local residents that prays outside the clinic every Saturday.
"I'm a supporter of the country not killing babies for the sake of just killing babies," he said. "What we try to do is let [women] know that there are other options. [But] if they do go in for an abortion, we try to help them afterwards. There is counseling and support groups afterwards."
Lee Pardee, a resident of Sunset Park, is an organizer for the Brooklyn Pro-Choice Network, a grassroots organization that provides escorts to and from the clinic.
The counter demonstration was organized "to let them know that there is an opposition -- there are a lot of people that are pro-choice," she said.
The police department provided more than 15 officers to cover the demonstration, but there were no incidents. Both sides were partitioned apart from one another and had little interaction.
"It's been very quiet," said Estelle Miler of Flatbush, a pro-choice demonstrator. "I expected a lot worse."
The demonstration was made somewhat livelier by the Church Ladies for Choice, a group of four men in drag who occasionally taunted the somber-looking crowd behind Bishop Daily.
"I know it's a drag harassing women, but smile," said one of the men, who identified himself as Harmonie Moore. He said that a sense of solidarity urged he and his friends to counter demonstrate.
"Whether it's a woman controlling her body and her reproductive rights, or a gay man controlling who he wants to sleep with, it's usually the same damn people coming down on us," he said.
His group then began an impromptu rendition of "If You're Pro-Choice and You Know It, Fix Your Wig."
After Bishop Daily's group finished praying, it sang "God Bless America," marched back around the block, and filed slowly into the Church of St. Michael.