NEWPORT BEACH ( — Protesters Thursday rallied outside a Catholic hospital in Orange County asking the medical facility to restore a woman’s right to choose.

The rally was held outside Hoag Hospital (351 Hospital Road, Newport Beach) at 5 p.m.

A number of abortion opponents were also on hand to express their support of the hospital’s decision to drop elective abortions.

Last fall, Hoag joined forces with St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Organizers of the demonstration said at that time, the public was told that nothing would change at Hoag in regards to services provided.

Last month, however, Hoag announced they would no longer provide abortion services at their hospitals.

Late last fall, Hoag became affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital. At the time, the public was told that nothing would change with regards to services provided. However, last month Hoag suddenly announced that it would stop all “direct” abortion services at its hospitals.

That decision — even though the hospital performed less than 100 abortions in any calendar year — touched off an angry firestorm from doctors, women’s right’s advocates and hospital donors — at least two threatened to pull funding.

According to the LA Times, a local Democratic organization put the protest rally together. They reported an anti-abortion group — namely California Nurses For Ethical Standards — planned a counter protest

Hoag administrators insist St. Joseph Health, did not pressure the hospital to make the policy change. They said the change was financial and not political.

“It is unfortunate that a decision made with the community’s best interest in mind has been misrepresented as part of a larger political agenda. It simply is not,” wrote Nina Robinson, a Hoag Hospital spokeswoman in a statement.

The hospital also said they would continue to provide the service in the cases of rape or incest and include emergency pregnancy prevention (like the Plan B pill).

“We need to stop abortion here in the United States, we need to stop it all over the world. People like us pay good tax money and they’re using our tax money to do something we don’t like,” said Carolynne Famalaro, an anti-abortion advocate.

On the opposite spectrum, Dr. Suzanne Savory of the Women’s Democratic Club wants the hospital to keep a woman’s right to choose.

“This is our hospital with our doctors and the only reason an abortion would be performed in that hospital is because of an underlying medical reason and I would want my own doctor and my own hospital,” said Savory.

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