About 200 sit-down demonstrators were arrested today when a Cypress family-planning center came under siege as the first target in an anti-abortionist army’s “Holy Week of Rescue,” aimed at shutting down Southern California clinics providing abortions.
Hundreds of Operation Rescue supporters descended on the clinic at 9461 Grindlay St., blocking the doors in violation of a federal court order and showing photographs of dismembered fetuses to frightened women clients trying to enter.
The anti-abortionists were confronted by more than 100 pro-choice advocates waving signs and determined to escort the patients into the Family Planning Associates Medical Group offices.
About 20 clients eventually were able to enter through a side door with the help of pro-choice escorts.
Some clients, being escorted to momentary sanctuary across the street, became the targets of Operation Rescue protesters shouting: “Save your baby!” or “Don’t kill your baby. . . ! This is murder!”
Protesters Went Limp
The arrests began shortly before 9 a.m. after Cypress police ordered all those jammed in front of the doors to disperse. Most pro-choice people moved away, but anti-abortionists stayed put, inviting arrest.
As officers waded in to carry them off one by one, the protesters went limp. As they had been instructed by their leaders to do, others crawled in to take their places.
Among those taken into custody was Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, 29, who had been exhorting his followers through a bullhorn not to give their names when arrested and to say nothing until given permission by their leaders.
Most arrestees were taken to nearby Cypress City Hall where, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Richard Olson said, they were to be cited on misdemeanor charges and released. Those arrested quickly overflowed the Cypress City Council chambers, forcing officers to begin processing others at the Cypress Community Center tennis courts.
Meanwhile, members of several pro-choice organizations trying to stop Operation Rescue’s three-day campaign in the Los Angeles-Orange County area were stationed at various women’s clinics in widely scattered areas, waiting for what they called other “hits.”
All Entrances Blocked
The first Operation Rescue demonstrators arrived at the Cypress clinic shortly before 6 a.m., only to be met by pro-choice people, who had begun gathering about 5. About 500 anti-abortionists left the staging area at the Melodyland church in Anaheim, arriving at the clinic by buses and cars.
All entrances were quickly blocked. Operation Rescue people sang hymns and prayed while clinic defenders chanted, “My body’s nobody’s but mine,” and carried blue-and-white pro-choice signs.
As clients arrived outside the clinic, Operation Rescue “sidewalk counselors” surrounded their cars, showing them photographs of fetuses and urging them not to have abortions.
Pro-choice people in orange vests labeled “Escort” led some of the clinic clients across the street to Barclay College, which offered them sanctuary.