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Operation Rescue Rally Closes Santa Ana Clinic : Abortion: The protest, which drew demonstrators supporting both sides of the issue, is the first in seven months for the group.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Operation Rescue demonstrators claimed victory Saturday after effectively shutting down business at a Santa Ana abortion clinic.

But abortion-rights activists, who mobilized after learning that anti-abortionists planned to rally, said that while the Feminist Women’s Medical Clinic of Orange County was unable to perform abortions Saturday, clients received other birth control services they were seeking, 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 shortly after 6 a.m., Santa Ana Police Lt. Robert Helton said. No arrests were made, he added.

Operation Rescue spokeswoman Sue Finn said the seven-month layoff occurred because of the hundreds of trespassing cases stemming from previous demonstrations.

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“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.

The clinic is on the second floor of an office building, Helton said, and demonstrators blocked the stairs and hallway leading to it.

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“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.

Just before 11 a.m., the four anti-abortion demonstrators left the building and rejoined the crowd that was forced by police to stand several feet from the building’s main entrance.

Helton said that because police did not know beforehand which clinic would be targeted, the demonstrators were followed to the Santa Ana clinic by police officers from the Los Angeles, Montebello, Orange, Santa Ana and Tustin police departments as well as the Orange County Sheriff’s office.

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