It wasn’t just about standing against abortion.

On Saturday, deacons, musicians, health care workers, college students, lawyers, Christians, parents and children stood side by side outside Planned Parenthood centers to seize political momentum for defunding hundreds of clinics across the nation.

“We are probably in the best place we’ve been in decades to win this battle,” Republican activist Deborah Pauly told hundreds gathered at a rally in Orange. Planned Parenthood, she said, has its “back up against the wall.”

Last month after taking office, President Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about abortions. Vice President Mike Pence strongly opposes abortion, citing his Catholic beliefs, and the newly confirmed health secretary, Tom Price, has supported cutting off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood representatives have criticized such demonstrations, noting that congressional budget provisions already prevent federal funding for abortions. The organization and its affiliate centers are reimbursed by Medicaid for other services, including birth control and cancer screening. Planned Parenthood performed 324,000 abortions in 2014.

Anti-abortion conservatives argue that the reimbursements help subsidize abortions.

In some cities across the nation on Saturday, including Pasadena and Riverside, counterprotests dwarfed the demonstrations. But that wasn’t the case in places like downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, Lawndale or San Bernardino.

• MORE PHOTOS: Protesters from both sides meet in Los Angeles

In Orange, one of the largest rallies in the region, hundreds of anti-abortion protesters lined Tustin Street, waving signs they’ve used for years: “Moms for life. Dads for life.” “Killing babies is not health care.” “Defend Life.”

Some prayed out loud, while others sang church hymns. Enrique Zuniga, 77, of Yorba Linda marched up and down the sidewalk carrying a 25-pound cross.

He’s been picketing Planned Parenthood for years. But, somehow, Saturday felt different. He felt hope.

Other abortion opponents taking part in the staged rallies also said they felt empowered by the Trump administration and a GOP-led Congress.

“Our chance to defund is better than ever,” said Mecki Grothues, 76, of La Habra.

A regular demonstrator in Orange, she and her fellow parishioners were reciting the rosary as motorists honked in support. Nearby, Carlos Reyes stood in silence with two of his six children.

His 9-year-old daughter Priscilla held a sign she and her sibling have been using in protest for three years: “I’m a person not a choice.”

In Long Beach, members of St. Cornelius Catholic Church showed up and said the rosary. Churchgoer Nancy Filbia, a 73-year-old protester, said she came out to be a “bold and active voice for the unborn.”

“I don’t see why taxpayer money should be going to Planned Parenthood,” Filbia said.

In a 2015 financial report, Planned Parenthood Federation of America said its centers served more than 1.5 million people, which contributed to a 40-year low in teen pregnancy. Nationally, abortions account for 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood centers. In Orange, it accounts for 5 percent.

STD testing and treatment and contraception account for the majority of medical services provided by Planned Parenthood centers across the nation.

Nichole Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the Orange and San Bernardino County Planned Parenthoods, said defunding Planned Parenthood will take away needed preventative care for low-income women.

“If these protesters were truly committed to reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions, they would work with us to provide the community with affordable contraception and accurate sexual education,” she said.

No arrests were reported at protests in Southern California on Saturday, and there were apparently few individual confrontations between abortion foes and pro-choice advocates.

Nohemi Lopez, a counterprotester outside the San Bernardino clinic, said she got pregnant when she was 15, and had the baby. If she was more informed and had access to Planned Parenthood’s resources, she said, she never would have become pregnant.

At Planned Parenthood centers in Long Beach and Lawndale, the crowds were much smaller. About 20 protesters gathered along the sidewalk outside the Long Beach clinic holding signs such as, “Mom for Life,” and “Stop Abortion Now.”

A lone counterprotester stood across the street with a sign, “I stand with Planned Parenthood. Keep your hands off my baby.”

At Planned Parenthood’s New York headquarters, supporters outnumbered a group of 50 abortion rights opponents by 3-to-1, and thousands rallied separately at Washington Square Park to support the nonprofit.

In Pasadena, the local clinic received similar support. Two hundred pro-choice supporters outnumbered the 40 anti-abortion protesters. The counterprotesters gathered a mile away at the Lake Avenue Gold Line station. They chanted “stand up, fight back” and cheered when passing motorists honked.

In Orange, only a handful of pro-choice supporters were spotted amid throngs of anti-abortion activists.

The crowd of demonstrators, swelling to hundreds by 10 a.m., grew so large that dozens were forced to take positions across the street.

Many were heartened by more than a dozen speakers who encouraged them to push congressional leaders to redirect Planned Parenthood funding to health centers that don’t conduct abortions or provide contraception.

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, director of The Vida Initiative, said Planned Parenthood rejects the sanctity of human life. “Planned Parenthood must not only be defunded, it must be vanquished.”

Speaker and activist Bob Celnicky, who supports a constitutional amendment to make abortions illegal, called the pro-life movement a “tsunami across the nation.”

“Don’t miss the ride,” he said.

Staff writer Jason Henry, Correspondent Marianne Love and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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