Helmeted police officers stood guard at an abortion clinic as patients inside huddled and employees went about their business while "Siege of Atlanta" protesters outside shouted Bible verses.
The Feminist Women's Health Center is one of the city's seven clinics targeted by Operation Rescue, the New York-based anti-abortion group that has staged demonstrations here this week.More demonstrations were promised for Thursday, although the numbers of demonstrators have dwindled since Tuesday, when 343 people were arrested on misdemeanor charges.
Fourteen were arrested Wednesday, City Solicitor Raines Carter said.
Three of them were charged with simple assault when a patient they tried to bar from Feminist Women's Health Center stumbled and fell.
Protest leaders, who dubbed this week's protests the "Siege of Atlanta," said they have prevented abortions with their demonstrations, which include attempting to blockade entrances.
Clinic officials disputed that and said aside from some rescheduling of appointments business has not been affected.
But a 21-year-old patient from Rome, Ga., said she was horrified by the severity of the protests as she arrived at the clinic Wednesday.
"You've got people throwing themselves on the ground trying to trip you up and make you fall, peeking under the umbrella and all that," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"I was in a lot of pain. I could have been hemorrhaging or bleeding to death, and here they are," she said. "Nobody should have to go through that kind of terrorism."
On Wednesday, the center, which serves 10 to 50 patients a day in a building near downtown, braced for a morning protest. Two police officers were stationed at the clinic's entrances.
Other police officers, several on horseback, deployed at metal curbside barricades. Employees and pro-choice volunteers gripped black umbrellas labeled "Choice" as they waited to escort patients into the facility.
The demonstrators arrived in midafternoon with drastically reduced ranks. Most demonstrators said they limited their activities to praying and singing hymns.