A coalition of women's groups is planning to protest Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian's recent decision to stop performing elective abortions.

Demonstrators from the Orange County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the League of Women Voters, Women For: Orange County and other organizations will stage a protest at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Newport Beach hospital.

A mass email, sent last week to NOW supporters, references an open letter from eight Hoag-affiliated doctors who disputed the hospital's policy change.

"It was really brave of the Hoag doctors to write that letter," the local NOW chapter president, Lori Vandermeir, wrote. "They did it for us — their female patients. It's now time for women in this county to stand up for ourselves."

Hoag officials have called the policy change a business decision. The service was not frequently used, they said, and the decision was not influenced by the religious views of St. Joseph Health, its new Catholic church-affiliated healthcare partner.

Meanwhile, others plan to counterprotest at Hoag on Thursday.

Sally Kanarek, a former director of Parent Help U.S.A. who has worked extensively with Mothers and Others Against Child Abuse, said she plans to participate in a counterprotest in support of the hospital's decision.

"We just decided to do this," said Kanarek, who said she couldn't estimate how many people or groups would be involved in the counterprotest. "We just want to go there and let [Hoag] know we support them."

She said she will not be acting on behalf of any particular organization but rather as a private citizen, adding that she has encouraged others involved in Mothers and Others Against Child Abuse to join her.

"I believe [abortion] does many things to rob a woman of her dignity," she said.