The waiting room inside the basement of the Parkland apartment building in Southeast Washington was filled with women yesterday, some of them sitting nervously with folded arms while others whispered to friends who had accompanied them to the Ophelia Egypt Clinic.

A day earlier someone had set off three smoke bombs in the clinic's doorway.

Under ordinary circumstances, it's hard enough for some women to come to a Planned Parenthood center, for many are in their teens, still wearing ponytails and seeking help for the first time on the most sensitive and personal of matters.

Now they had to confront the added anxiety of possible injury and public notice.

"The staff is just trying to help those who need a service, and while we feel that this incident with the smoke bomb is a prank, it makes everybody frustrated," said Rosann Wisman, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.

"Come on, child, we don't have all day," a mother snapped when her young daughter paused to study instructions on a new pack of birth control pills. They quickly left the Egypt clinic, relief on their faces.

"This was our first trip," the mother said. "We don't know nothing about nothing. We just want to get our stuff and go."

Fear and frustration prevail at many family planning clinics these days. Yet, despite the bombings, the threats and the pranks, the clientele for these services has increased, clinic officials say -- especially in this low-income section of the city, where the urgency of pregnancy-related problems, and the consequences of ignoring them, have been demonstrated in no uncertain terms.

Each year hundreds of women, young women, visit the Ophelia Egypt Clinic, named for a longtime Washington educator and social worker who concentrated her family planning efforts in poor communities.

On the day after Friday's smoke bomb prank, which forced the evacuation of the clinic and raised the anxiety level, about 40 women came in, with about 85 percent of them seeking information about contraceptives, according to clinic personnel.

A clinic volunteer turned the office radio from a rock 'n' roll station to easy listening. But there was a tension in the air that soured even mellow music.

Instead of focusing exclusively on clients in need, clinic personnel are forced by recent events to stay on alert for unusual activity or persons on the premises.

So everyone who is buzzed into the clinic -- especially if it's a man -- is given a thorough going-over.

Among those at the clinic was a young man holding his girlfriend's hand while she waited for a pregnancy test, although she hardly seemed of an age to handle a positive result.

"Don't worry, baby," he consoled her. "Everything will be all right."

Until recently, it seemed that Washington was losing its battle with pregnancy problems.

But startling changes have been under way, including a dramatic reduction in the infant death rate in the area where the Ophelia Egypt Clinic is located.

In 1980, Anacostia's Ward 8 had an infant mortality rate of 27.2 per thousand, the highest level of any ward in the city.

But by 1982, the ward had made a seemingly miraculous turnaround, cutting its rate to 13.7.

The Ophelia Egypt center specializes in a broad range of counseling and medical services, including information about abortion.

And for the thousands of women who live in and around the massive Parkland apartments, it is one of the few places providing such extensive service.

It is this reality that so-called "pro-lifers" appear to have lost sight of.

But it's of paramount importance in the resolve of those who run the clinics, and those who seek a better life for themselves and their children.

Said Almeda Brown, who has directed the Ophelia Egypt Clinic for eight years: "We've worked so hard to get the community to understand what our services are, and then something like this happens. But we are determined to help those who need COURTLAND MILLOY The Smoke Settles

The waiting room inside the basement of the Parkland apartment building in Southeast Washington was filled with women yesterday, some of them sitting nervously with folded arms while others whispered to friends who had accompanied them to the Ophelia Egypt Clinic.

A day earlier someone had set off three smoke bombs in the clinic's doorway.

Under ordinary circumstances, it's hard enough for some women to come to a Planned Parenthood center, for many are in their teens, still wearing ponytails and seeking help for the first time on the most sensitive and personal of matters.

Now they had to confront the added anxiety of possible injury and public notice.

"The staff is just trying to help those who need a service, and while we feel that this incident with the smoke bomb is a prank, it makes everybody frustrated," said Rosann Wisman, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.

"Come on, child, we don't have all day," a mother snapped when her young daughter paused to study instructions on a new pack of birth control pills. They quickly left the Egypt clinic, relief on their faces.

"This was our first trip," the mother said. "We don't know nothing about nothing. We just want to get our stuff and go."

Fear and frustration prevail at many family planning clinics these days. Yet, despite the bombings, the threats and the pranks, the clientele for these services has increased, clinic officials say -- especially in this low-income section of the city, where the urgency of pregnancy-related problems, and the consequences of ignoring them, have been demonstrated in no uncertain terms.

Each year hundreds of women, young women, visit the Ophelia Egypt Clinic, named for a longtime Washington educator and social worker who concentrated her family planning efforts in poor communities.

On the day after Friday's smoke bomb prank, which forced the evacuation of the clinic and raised the anxiety level, about 40 women came in, with about 85 percent of them seeking information about contraceptives, according to clinic personnel.

A clinic volunteer turned the office radio from a rock 'n' roll station to easy listening. But there was a tension in the air that soured even mellow music.

Instead of focusing exclusively on clients in need, clinic personnel are forced by recent events to stay on alert for unusual activity or persons on the premises.

So everyone who is buzzed into the clinic -- especially if it's a man -- is given a thorough going-over.

Among those at the clinic was a young man holding his girlfriend's hand while she waited for a pregnancy test, although she hardly seemed of an age to handle a positive result.

"Don't worry, baby," he consoled her. "Everything will be all right."

Until recently, it seemed that Washington was losing its battle with pregnancy problems.

But startling changes have been under way, including a dramatic reduction in the infant death rate in the area where the Ophelia Egypt Clinic is located.

In 1980, Anacostia's Ward 8 had an infant mortality rate of 27.2 per thousand, the highest level of any ward in the city.

But by 1982, the ward had made a seemingly miraculous turnaround, cutting its rate to 13.7.

The Ophelia Egypt center specializes in a broad range of counseling and medical services, including information about abortion.

And for the thousands of women who live in and around the massive Parkland apartments, it is one of the few places providing such extensive service.

It is this reality that so-called "pro-lifers" appear to have lost sight of.

But it's of paramount importance in the resolve of those who run the clinics, and those who seek a better life for themselves and their children.

Said Almeda Brown, who has directed the Ophelia Egypt Clinic for eight years: "We've worked so hard to get the community to understand what our services are, and then something like this happens. But we are determined to help those who need us."