Hundreds Arrested in Holy Week Abortion Protests
The Associated Press
Mar. 25, 1989
Undated (AP) _ Pro-choice activists called the leader of an anti-abortion group ''Ayatollah Terry'' as he and his supporters led demonstrations around the country in a Holy Week campaign that resulted in several hundred arrests.
Nearly 300 people were arrested Friday in Philadelphia and Albany, N.Y. In Long Beach, Calif., police refused to arrest any of the 350 Operation Rescue protesters at a sit-in outside a medical building although they defied an order to disperse. Police made no arrests because the building was closed, said Police Chief Lawrence Binkley.
In Philadelphia, 180 people were arrested following demonstrations at two clinics. The protests came three days after a federal judge barred all such disruptive demonstrations by abortion opponents at clinics.
The demonstrators gathered in rain and gusting winds outside Planned Parenthood and the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center for Women, chanting and singing. Only protesters at Planned Parenthood were arrested.
Members of abortion-rights groups said they decided to show up also to press their side.
''We knew in advance and we got organized,'' said Marcy McCook, a worker at Planned Parenthood. ''People are afraid they're going to lose their rights.''
Pam Rizzo, president of Northeast Pro-Life, said people ''who didn't want to see babies die'' showed up to demonstrate, but Good Friday also gave people added incentive to protest.
The clinics were opened after minor delays.
One of the larger gatherings was in Long Beach, where those opposed to legalized abortion held Bibles and photos of aborted fetuses and sang hymns.
More than 400 pro-choice activists, including actress Morgan Fairchild and comedian Elayne Boosler, toted signs and chanted slogans like ''Read 'em their rights and take them away.''
Randall Terry, leader of the Binghamton, N.Y.-based Operation Rescue, was reluctant to answer reporter's questions as pro-choice demonstrators surrounded him yelling ''Ayatollah Terry.''
''I'm not talking because this is not a war of words, it's a war against butchering babies,'' Terry said.
''They say you don't have a permit to be here, but the Bible is the best permit you can have,'' Terry told his followers.
Following the Long Beach protest, the administrative offices of Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles received a bomb threat, prompting an evacuation and police search that found no evidence of any explosive device, said executive director Joan Babbott.
In New York, anti-abortion protesters in Albany and Syracuse were carted to jail in wheelchairs and converted passenger buses.
In Albany, police said more than 115 people were arrested in a demonstration that began shortly after dawn at the downtown office of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood.
While the Albany demonstrators refused to say whether they were part of Operation Rescue, some sported ''O.R.'' armbands and Operation Rescue sweatshirts.
With banners and signs that read, ''Abortion, The Ultimate Child Abuse,'' ''Baby Humans Slaughtered Here'' and ''Hitler Would be Proud of Planned Parenthood,'' the protesters sang religious songs, prayed and picketed. Some sat and locked arms.
Most of those arrested went limp, forcing police officers to carry or drag them into waiting vans and a large bus.
In Syracuse, police used wheelchairs to haul away 56 protesters who packed inside the Planned Parenthood Center while about 100 of their fellow demonstrators picketed outside in a cold drizzle.