The National Organization for Women announced Thursday that it will conduct vigils this weekend at 25 abortion clinics in 18 states to guard against potential violence during a time when federal officials have said that they expect attacks to occur.
Foes of abortion, who have bombed or burned nearly 30 abortion clinics since 1982, "are determined to take the law into their own hands and end safe, legal abortion," Judy Goldsmith, national president of NOW, said at a news conference. "We are even more determined to stop them."
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has warned the National Federation in a letter that clinics "should be aware of their security measures" Sunday through Tuesday, coinciding with President Reagan's inauguration and the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Goldsmith said the vigils--beginning today at clinics in sites including Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Jose, Fresno and Solano County--will be conducted "in consultation" with federal and local law enforcement agencies. She predicted that they "will deter violence" and make self-defense on the part of the NOW guards "unnecessary".
"We are saying it is unacceptable to yield the clinics to the bullies," she said. "We serve notice that women are...absolutely determined not to go back to the days when we had to risk fear, pain, injury and even death to terminate a pregnancy. We will never go back to that time."
Goldsmith, responding to remarks Wednesday by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, chairman of the anti-abortion committee of the National Conference on Catholic Bishops, said anti-abortion leaders have not been strong enough in condemning the bombings because their statements always have been followed by a "but."
"The 'but' wipes out the moral force of condemnation," she declared. Bernardin on Wednesday deplored the bombing of abortion clinics but said that the incidents are "symptomatic of the violence brought by legalized abortion."
Goldsmith called on anti-abortion leaders to label the attackers of clinics "enemies of the pro-life movement."