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SAN DIEGO -- As hundreds of people celebrated inside Eden nightclub Thursday evening at a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, a handful of protesters lined the street corner outside staging an anti-abortion protest.
The Cocktails for Choice fundraiser was organized by the local Planned Parenthood affiliate as a fun way for community members to engage with the organization and support its programs and services. Planned Parenthood is a national organization with chapters all over the United States and provides sexual and reproductive health care and advocacy.
While the organization's health care centers provide a number of health services and resources to its clients, its abortion services have been the focus of a culture war between "pro-life" and "pro-choice" activists for many years.
Planned Parenthood clinics are regularly protested by those who oppose abortions, and some chapters of the organization have posted information about security at their health-care sites so that patients are not frightened to visit.
Longtime community activist Elaine Graybill, who has attended numerous Planned Parenthood fundraisers and functions, said that protesters are a regular sight at these events.
"I don't think I've been to a recent (or any) Planned Parenthood 'Cocktails for Choice' event where the protestors weren't there -- First Amendment Rights and all that," Graybill said.
"As you know, Planned Parenthood is really about women's health issues and family planning. Abortion is a very small percentage of the services offered to women. Based on what happens to children in California and the USA on a daily basis, I think these groups would serve the children of America better by concentrating on the 'born' as opposed to the 'unborn'."
Protesters at the event were seen holding up signs with photographs and images of bloody fetuses, and carried messages that said things like "Abortion is America's Holocaust."
Community activist Eric Hufford said he was shocked to see the signs the protestors were holding up when he walked by.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Hufford said. "A family that was walking near me had to shield their children's eyes from a fake image of an aborted baby."
Hufford said he told the family that he was sorry they had to see the posters.
Photographs of the protest were quickly posted by community members to Facebook, which generated a mulititude of comments.
"Planned Parenthood prevents far more abortions than it provides. These people are idiots," Richard Reyna said in response to a long string of comments posted on SDPIX/SDGLN photographer Jim Winsor's Facebook page.
A number of others who posted comments made humor out of the protest, noting that they found it comical that anti-abortion activists were protesting in the historically gay neighborhood of Hillcrest.
"LOL, isn't this the wrong neighborhood to be protesting in?" Isaiah Walter asked on Facebook. "I mean, it's not like we have a huge pregnancy rate amongst the GLBT population ..."
When approached, protesters refused to speak to San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
Despite the protest, Planned Parenthood officials say that the fundraiser was a great success and look forward to more events like this in the future.