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Reagan Accused of Inflaming Anti-Abortionists

January 22, 1986|LOU FINTOR | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — On the eve of the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion ruling, abortion rights activists Tuesday accused President Reagan of contributing to violence against abortion clinics by using what they called "your inflammatory rhetoric."

Leaders of the National Abortion Rights Action League urged Reagan, who opposes abortion, to use his personal influence to "protect the lives of clinic patients and personnel." In addition, they suggested at a news conference that he publicly call "for an end to all inflammatory 'anti-choice' activity in the immediate vicinity of abortion clinics."

They said that they had sent a telegram to Reagan charging that "your inflammatory rhetoric, as well as the activity of other 'anti-choice' leaders, has created a climate leading to 65 incidents" of violence at abortion clinics since 1980, including bombings and arson.

At the White House, an official said: "The President is opposed to violence in any form. He'll be glad to have their views."

Demonstration Planned

Thousands of opponents of abortion, meanwhile, began massing in Washington for today's annual demonstration against the court's 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade, in which the court ruled 7 to 2 that the Constitution was "broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."

As he did last year, Reagan is scheduled to address the crowd via telephone at the beginning of a march from the Ellipse, south of the White House, to the steps of the Supreme Court. Later, he will meet with the leaders of several anti-abortion groups. About 71,000 protesters attended the 1985 demonstration, according to official estimates.

Several groups also are planning to demonstrate and stage sit-ins at Washington's nine abortion clinics, said Harry Hand, coordinator of the Prolife Nonviolent Action Project, one of the groups.

"We should be willing to put our lives on the line for what we believe in, because abortion itself is a violent act," Hand said.

Events in 34 States

Those who favor a woman's right to an abortion are planning events such as candlelight vigils in at least 34 states to commemorate the anniversary of the court's ruling.

According to Kate Michelman, executive director of the abortion rights league, 52 incidents of arson, bombing and attempted destruction of abortion facilities have occurred since 1984. Six of these incidents have been in California, she said. An additional 13 incidents occurred nationwide between 1980 and 1984.

"This is domestic terrorism, and the employees of these clinics are working in combat zones," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women. ". . . Their patients come in running the gantlet and they come in totally traumatized by this."

In March, thousands of abortion rights advocates are expected to gather in Washington and Los Angeles for a march to "show the country that we who support keeping abortion and birth control safe and legal are in the overwhelming majority."

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