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Order Curbing Abortion Protest Actions Extended

Times Staff Writer

A federal judge on Monday indefinitely extended an order forbidding anti-abortion forces to block entrances to California women’s health clinics targeted for major demonstrations, including a Los Angeles-area protest scheduled next week.

But an organizer for Operation Rescue, the group behind the demonstrations, said the order will not change his plans.

“What the judge just said is that it’s still illegal to save a baby’s life in this country,” said Joseph Foreman, the group’s national field director. “I will not proceed any differently than I have in the past when babies are going to be murdered.”

In Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union for a preliminary injunction barring Operation Rescue from bodily blocking entrances to clinics that perform abortions.

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The injunction also prohibits demonstrating closer than 15 feet from clinic entrances and exits.

The terms mirror those of a temporary restraining order granted March 3 by another judge, which was due to expire Monday.

Tashima said he would not, however, direct the Los Angeles Police Department to enforce his order.

Police spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said the department is “not empowered nor obligated to enforce a federal order, unless we are specifically mentioned” but added that city law provides for passage to and from private property and unobstructed conduct of business.

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“We intend to enforce the law,” Booth said.

Tashima’s order remains in force until the trial of a class-action lawsuit by the ACLU. No date has been set for the proceeding.

Police have made more than 7,000 arrests over the last year during anti-abortion demonstrations, in which some protesters chained themselves and large objects, including cars, to the doors of clinics.

On Saturday, despite the March 2 order, nearly 200 protesters were arrested at clinics in Chico, Fresno and Oakland. Similar demonstrations are expected in San Diego this weekend, before a “holy week of rescue” in Los Angeles, March 22-25.

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