DEMONSTRATORS from the Operation Rescue anti-abortion group led 2,500 people in a Fourth of July rally here on Saturday to "get people's hearts ready" for at least a week of protests in Baton Rouge and other Louisiana cities.
Beneath a banner reading "Justice for All, Born and Unborn," abortion opponents from across the United States gathered in the Louisiana state capital on the Independence Day holiday and urged followers to join street demonstrations outside the city's only abortion clinic beginning on Tuesday.
Abortion-rights activists have trained 2,000 Baton Rouge volunteers in non-violent techniques to escort women seeking clinic services through anti-abortion protesters.
Hit squads, called St. John the Baptist groups, plan to picket the homes of, and businesses patronised by, doctors who perform abortions and their clinic staffs, Operation Rescue spokesman Bob Jewitt said on Saturday.
Federal marshals had to be called in to restore order last summer for the Operation Rescue demonstrations in Wichita, Kansas.