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Protest Stymies Santa Ana Clinic’s Abortion Activities : Rally: Operation Rescue holds its first demonstration in seven months. Protesters are followed to the clinic by police--and met there by abortion-rights activists.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Operation Rescue demonstrators claimed victory Saturday after effectively shutting down business here at an abortion clinic.

But abortion-rights activists, who mobilized after learning that anti-abortion demonstrators planned to rally, said that while the Feminist Women’s Medical Clinic of Orange County was unable to perform abortions Saturday, clients did receive other birth control services, were rerouted to other clinics or had their appointments rescheduled.

The demonstration--the first held by Operation Rescue in seven months--drew about 400 people representing both sides of the issue.

The confrontation began shortly after 6 a.m., Santa Ana Police Lt. Robert Helton said. There were no arrests.

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Operation Rescue spokeswoman Sue Finn said seven months elapsed between protests because of the hundreds of trespassing cases stemming from previous demonstrations.

“We got into courts and trials and jail,” she said. “We had 700 people in jail this summer, and so our rescues were slowed down through the summer. Basically, we are getting back onto the streets again.”

Abortion rights advocate Wendy Poirier of San Clemente said that with anti-abortionists being sent to jail, it has become more difficult for them to mobilize their forces.

“It’s tougher to get people who are willing to get arrested,” Poirier added.

Demonstrators blocked the stairs and hallway leading to the clinic, Helton said.

“There was the customary verbal jostling that you had taking place between the two sides, maybe a little pushing and shoving,” Helton said, adding that there was no violence.

By midmorning, Helton said, the doctor had not come in and the appointments were canceled. The receptionist left the building and locked the office, but four protesters refused to leave until they were sure that the clinic would not be reopened.

Just before 11 a.m., the four anti-abortion protesters left the building and rejoined demonstrators, who had been forced by police to stand several feet away from the building’s main entrance.

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Helton said that because police did not know which clinic would be targeted, the anti-abortion demonstrators were followed to the clinic by officers and deputies from several departments.


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