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Abortion Foes Shut Out In Dispute With Hotel

Times Staff Writer

An Anaheim hotel, threatened on two fronts in the abortion controversy, has refused to book accommodations for Operation Rescue, a New York-based anti-abortion group that plans to blockade several Southern California family planning clinics later this week.

“The general manager recognized they are a very controversial group and did receive a threat from another source saying if he let Operation Rescue people stay at the hotel, they had better tighten their security,” said Mary Garcia, public relations manager for the Ramada Hotel Group in Phoenix, which holds the franchise for the Ramada Main Gate in Anaheim, across South Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland.

“He recognized this as a potentially dangerous situation for the other guests in the hotel,” Garcia said of the general manager’s decision not to book 50 to 100 rooms for the group.

However, Jeff Adler, spokesman for the hotel, said the group was not welcome because its members did not meet standard hotel requirements to provide a list of names of those who would be staying and to pay a room deposit.

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Adler also said that members of Operation Rescue tried to intimidate the hotel management into providing facilities: “They threatened to take it to Time magazine unless we do as they say.”

Speaking on behalf of the Anaheim facility’s owner, Roger Manfred, Adler said: “This hotel will not be held hostage by any group.”

Ken Tanner, director for Operation Rescue’s Southland activities, denounced the hotel’s decision and called it “religious discrimination” at a press conference held in the hotel parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

Tanner said about 500 anti-abortion protesters--including Operation Rescue’s founder, Randall Terry--are arriving in the Southland from around the nation to participate in sit-ins at undisclosed clinics in Los Angeles and Orange counties through Saturday.

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About 200 of those were expected to need hotel rooms in Orange County, where nightly rallies will be held, he said. Operation Rescue has a temporary headquarters in Garden Grove.

The rejection by the hotel will not affect plans to block entrances of up to five clinics a day for 3 days, beginning Thursday morning, spokesmen for Operation Rescue said.

The religious-based organization, which claims 20,000 arrests during scores of sit-ins nationwide over the past year, has created havoc in courts and jails in Atlanta and Sunnyvale in Santa Clara County. About 2,000 demonstrators are expected to participate in the sit-ins at Southland clinics, and hundreds of pro-choice activists have pledged to be on hand to defend the rights of women to obtain medical services.

The “rescues” could begin as early as tonight at one clinic where, a spokesman for Operation Rescue said Tuesday, abortions are said to be performed 24 hours a day.

The deployment locations for early morning “rescues” will be announced each night at Operation Rescue rallies held at 7 p.m. at Melodyland Christian Center, 400 W. Freedman Way, in Anaheim.

Tanner said Operation Rescue had planned to use the Ramada as a base during the protests and had reached an agreement Friday with the sales manager to provide rooms as available, an information table in the lobby and referral information to Operation Rescue followers who called from the airport. He said no deposit had been required.

But on Monday afternoon, he said his organization had received word that no rooms would be available.

Tanner said the sales manager confirmed that there had been a “political problem” about housing the group.

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“My question is--and Randall Terry’s question is--can people be discriminated against based on their political and religious preferences?” Tanner asked.

He said the group will seek to set up an information table in the Ramada parking lot to advise “rescuers” of other hotels available in the area.

Tanner speculated that a telephone threat may have come from someone who learned of Operation Rescue’s plans to stay at the Ramada through the group’s telephone hot line.

He added that he suspects pressure was exerted on the hotel manager, from either an outsider who called the number or from someone within the hotel chain. “There must be a strong pro-abort community here,” he said.

Anaheim police said Tuesday that they have not been notified of any threats made against the hotel.


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