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Abortion Activists Prepare for Pope's Visit to Denver : Protests: Groups on both sides of debate are training staff in anticipation of clashes during tour.

July 24, 1993|From Religious News Service

DENVER — Pope John Paul II has often stressed the value of peace, but his visit to this city in August is prompting talk of war.

Abortion rights activists have vowed to do battle with "radical and violent" people, the activists' characterization of anti-abortion groups planning to shut down abortion clinics during the Pope's visit.

"This is a war," said Katherine Spillar, national director of the Feminist Majority, an organization based in Los Angeles that will train volunteers to counteract efforts here by anti-abortion groups around the country.

Denver has been targeted by several anti-abortion groups for intense efforts during World Youth Day, an international conference from Aug. 11 to 15 that the Pope is planning to attend. President Bill Clinton is expected to greet the Pope in Denver on Aug. 12.

Wendy Faustin, spokeswoman for Colorado Operation Rescue, a militant anti-abortion group, said: "We just want to use that pro-life energy that will be here at that time. We are in solidarity with the Pope and the Catholic Church on this."

The Pope has often stressed his opposition to abortion, which violates the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

Spillar estimated that her defense efforts, to be based on forming coalitions among activists, will cost about $25,000, not including costs of law enforcement, beefed-up security at clinics and court costs if people are arrested.

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