Participants in D.C. Project II, an antiabortion coalition, are planning a series of rallies tomorrow and Saturday that are expected to include attempts to blockade clinics where abortions are performed.
Randall Terry, head of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue, said at a news conference yesterday that as many as 1,000 people would be in Washington to participate in the demonstrations.
The coalition refused to disclose the locations.
Officials of the local branch of the National Organization for Women and a group called the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force said in a separate news conference that they plan to counter any attempt to blockade clinics and called on D.C. police to protect women seeking health services.
"If the police are able to ensure that the Klan can walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, then they can surely get a woman into her doctor's office," said Marci Wasserman, of the defense task force.
During similar activities a year ago, 733 protesters were arrested after demonstrators blocked entrance to three medical clinics in the District and tied up morning commuter traffic for hours.
Sgt. Joseph Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman, said yesterday that the "department will have a contingent of officers in place to maintain peace and preserve women's right of access of medical services and that the officers will make arrests if necessary."
Federal judges in the District, Virginia and Maryland have issued permanent injunctions against Operation Rescue, Terry and several of its other leaders to prevent them from blocking entrances or exits to clinics and organizing protests to blockade clinics.
In the District, U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer has said he would fine the group $50,000 if it violates the injunction.