BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Vowing to turn this Lake Erie city into the "next Wichita," militant anti-abortion activists have made preparations here for a massive anti-abortion campaign.
The campaign, organized by the national anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and dubbed "Spring of Life," is patterned after the group's 46-day siege last summer of abortion clinics in Wichita, Kan., that resulted in 2,600 arrests.
In a day of relative calm before major protests were to begin today, abortion opponents held protests outside a local abortion clinic and conducted passive-resistance training sessions and a rally at a suburban Roman Catholic church.
"Our only objective is to save a life," Keith Tucci, Operation Rescue's national director, said at a morning news conference. "If one life is saved, then our objective is accomplished, and we will return home rejoicing."
Mr. Tucci was met with obscenities and chants of "Operation Rescue, go away!" by a crowd of about 200 abortion-rights advocates when he showed up at one of the five clinics in Buffalo that Operation Rescue has targeted for its planned two to four weeks of protests.
There were no reports of violence and only one arrest yesterday. Operation Rescue organizers said they expected the protest to begin in full force today at clinics around the city.
Operation Rescue leaders would not estimate how many supporters are in Buffalo for the anti-abortion campaign. But abortion-rights advocates said they expect up to 1,000 out-of-town supporters to join 1,000 local advocates to counter the anti-abortion demonstrators.
"There will never be another Wichita," Eleanor Smeal, head of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told a group of abortion-rights activists yesterday.
Leaders on both sides of the abortion issue have pledged to avoid violence during the protests.
But one militant feminist group, the National Women's Rights Organizing Coalition, has created a rift with fellow abortion-rights advocates by saying it will do whatever is necessary to keep Buffalo's abortion clinics open.
"This is not a question of violence vs. non-violence," said Tania Kappner of Ann Arbor, Mich., a spokeswoman for the national coalition. "This is a question of keeping the clinics open."