"Go home! Go home! We don't want you here!" said a group of young people in shorts and shaved heads who followed one Operation Rescue activist down the street. They shouted obscenities at the man and stuck abortion-rights stickers on his back until police led him away.
During its "Cities of Refuge" event, the anti-abortion group has targeted abortion clinics and doctors' homes in Philadelphia; Minneapolis; Cleveland; Dallas-Fort Worth; San Jose, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; Melbourne, Fla., and Dallas.
Anti-abortion turnouts have been much smaller than expected in all the cities, and abortion-rights leaders are calling the event one of Operation Rescue's biggest failures.
"There's not a . . . of a lot of action anywhere," said Gina Shaw, of the National Abortion Federation, a group representing abortion providers. "I've been talking to clinics who are saying, 'Gee, we're trying to find things for volunteers to do.' "
Cities of Refuge was to end today in six cities with prayer rallies and demonstrations in front of doctors' homes.
Yesterday, police in Jackson, Miss., arrested 45 abortion protesters and charged them with trespassing when they tried take over a South Jackson clinic.
Philadelphia anti-abortion leaders, who began their offensive a day earlier than the national campaign, said they had no events planned for today.
During the past week here, Operation Rescue activists have briefly shut down three area clinics, and they interrupted Center City traffic with a sitdown Thursday. Nearly 400 people were arrested.
Yesterday in Philadelphia, protesters began with a 7 a.m. service at St. John's Catholic Church at 13th and Market Streets. Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Louis DeSimone addressed the anti-abortion crowd, telling them: "I don't know one bishop who would not be in favor of what you're doing - prayerfully encouraging people to look at life."
After the hourlong service, hundreds of anti-abortion demonstrators marched quietly down Center City sidewalks, led by a group of 20 priests in black and guarded by a double row of uniformed police who stood between them and shouting abortion-rights activists.
Singing hymns and reciting the Catholic "Hail Mary" prayer, the abortion protesters reached the Philadelphia Women's Center clinic at 225 S. 15th St. by 8:30 a.m. They were met by dozens of police and about 30 specially trained clinic "defenders," who stood protectively in front of the clinic's doors.
Near the defenders, raucous counterdemonstrators continued their taunts: ''Pray! You need it! You're going to be defeated!" they shouted, while anti-abortionists raised rosaries into the air in their right hands.
Barely noticed by anti-abortionists were the women arriving for abortions. They quickly slipped into the clinic's front doors, aided by two young volunteers, Friends Central students Andy Greenwald and Phillip Goff, both 16, who wore bright yellow "escort" bibs.
The clinic was "open - absolutely!" said its operator, Trish Sneddon, who took surveillance photos of the demonstrators. "This is having no impact on patients getting in."
After an hour of praying and singing, the demonstrators walked silently back to St. John's for a benediction service. The service was held up briefly while civil-affairs police talked with a half-dozen counterdemonstrators sitting in a back pew.
"I want to pray to Jesus, too," insisted one of them, Rue Landau, 24. Police told her and the others to leave, over the protests of several anti- abortion demonstrators, who told police that they should be allowed to attend the service.
Afterward, about 150 of the attendees walked to a demonstration in front of the Blackwell Center at 1124 Walnut St.
Smaller vigils were staged at the Northeast Women's Clinic at 2751 Comly Rd. in Northeast Philadelphia, where 30 abortion-rights and 15 anti-abortion supporters gathered.
A clinic employee said things were quiet except for a performance by The Church Ladies for Choice, a dozen men dressed in nun's habits and women's clothing who sang patriotic and religious songs with abortion-rights lyrics.
At Abortion and Affiliated Women's Healthcare Services, 1335 West Tabor Rd., 15 abortion-rights and five anti-abortion advocates showed up.
Despite the small turnouts, Michael McMonagle, a local anti-abortion leader, said yesterday that the protests had been successful.
"We defeated the image of (anti-abortion) violence," he said. "What we've shown is that we're peaceful, prayerful people."