Demonstrations On Abortion Ruling Held Across The Country With AM-Abortion Rdp, Bjt
Undated (AP) _ Abortion opponents and advocates nationwide used candlelight vigils, church services and political pressure to get their message across on Wednesday, the 13th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.
Pro-choice activities took place in 97 cities, according to the National Organization for Women. The demonstrations included speeches against violence aimed at abortion clinics, and in California, ″human billboards″ with activists linking arms and waving at motorists.
Abortion opponents also demonstrated in many cities, including Washington, where at least 36,000 marchers heard President Reagan say, ″I’m proud to stand with you in the long march for the right to life.″
More than 2,000 people marched silently through downtown Atlanta to the steps of the state Capitol, where they vowed to reverse the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Gov. Joe Frank Harris made a brief appearance and declared Wednesday ″Right to Life Day.″
Hours earlier, a small group of abortion rights advocates in Atlanta called for an end to violence against abortion clinics, and hailed the landmark court ruling for bringing an end to ″the wholesale slaughter of women in back-alley abortions.″
In Milton, Fla., more than 200 abortion foes held an open-casket funeral and then buried ″Baby Charlie,″ a fetus that has been used to promote their cause for nearly a year.
John Burt, who runs a home in nearby Pensacola for troubled women and unwed mothers, obtained the fetus from anti-abortionists in Wisconsin who said it had been aborted somewhere in the Midwest. He has displayed it before news media.
In Montgomery, Ala., hundreds of anti-abortion protesters cheered a minister condemning the ″killing of innocent children,″ but they yelled even louder when told that a state Senate committee had passed a bill requiring doctors to notify parents before giving teen-agers abortions. A similar bill passed the same committee last year but never came up for a vote in the Senate.
In St. Paul, Minn., an estimated 2,000 abortion foes carrying signs and black balloons marched around the state Capitol and then prayed and sang on the steps to protest the Supreme Court decision.
In Boston, the Massachusetts Citizens for Life brought petitions with more than 100,000 signatures to the Legislature on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to approve and place before the voters a constitutional amendment that would limit state Medicaid-paid abortions.
Later, Gov. Michael Dukakis, speaking to a pro-abortion meeting at the Protestant Church of the Covenant, said any law making abortion a crime would be doomed to the same failure as Prohibition. Such a law would be an ″ill- fated attempt to transform moral belief into criminally sanctioned conduct in American history,″ he said.
Three bills similar to that proposed in Massachussetts have been vetoed by Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, but about 100 anti-abortion protesters at the Capitol in Lansing were told Wednesday that efforts to pass a law would continue.
″It’s not over ’til it’s over,″ state Rep. Frederick Dillingham said at the rally. Blanchard faces re-election in 1986.
In Phoenix, a state lawmaker led the Arizona House of Representatives in prayer for the ″millions of babies″ aborted, and pro-choice spectators responded with boos from the gallery Wednesday.
Activists also debated whether the anti-abortion movement is responsible for violence against clinics.
In Austin, Texas, pro-choice advocates said the emotional rhetoric of their opponents has helped spark violence.
″We challenge the so-called pro-life groups to help put an end to the violence in their movement. We challenge them to take responsibility for the inflammatory and emotional rhetoric and propaganda they employ, which apparently incites some sympathizers to domestic terrorism,″ said Pam Fridrich of The Texas Abortion Rights Action League.
But Bill Price, president of the Greater Dallas Right-to-Life group, said he is ″totally opposed to any use of violence to further this cause. Those people who engage in violence are merely stooping to the same low level of activity as the other side that uses violence to kill unborn children.″
Security was increased by officials at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for a speech Wednesday night by Bill Baird, owner of a New York abortion clinic. Campus police agreed to provide an additional officer at the request of the university’s Women’s Resource Center, said Helene Quigley, the organization’s director.
Mary Anne Tiehen, executive director of the Nebraska Coalition of Life, said she doesn’t understand the security concerns at UNO.
″The right to life movement doesn’t have violent people,″ she said.
Ms. Quigley said the additional security was requested because of violence at some abortion clinics.
In Buffalo, N.Y., pro-choice advocates charged five ″fake clinics″ in western New York are attracting women seeking abortions and trying to coerce them into having their children instead.
Pro-choice activists in San Francisco formed ″human billboards″ at six major commuter intersections during the Wednesday morning rush hour. They linked arms and urged motorists to ″honk if you support legal abortion.″
In nearby Palo Alto, opponents of abortion organized a midday prayer walk through the business district.
In Los Angeles, Roman Catholic Archbishop Roger Mahony and other religious leaders held an hour-long noon service and rally against abortion.
″No woman need ever turn to abortion because she had no other alternatives available to her,″ Mahony said, pledging efforts to bring free medical care to teen-age girls and women with unwanted pregnancies.
He called abortion a ″most serious national sin.″
Also in Los Angeles, the January 22nd Coalition for Reproductive Rights planned a candlelight vigil to protest the rising number of violent attacks against abortion clinics.
In New York City, hundreds of people wearing yellow ″CHOICE″ stickers jammed Bryant Park for a rally at which Arlene Swartz, co-chairman of the New York Pro-Choice Coalition, said ″We celebrate our freedom of choice, because it is very clear to all of us that without the freedom to choose abortion, women are not free.″