Buffalo Operation Fizzle

The cameras loved the stage-managed spectacle. But the battle over abortion was largely a symbolic contest, and the clinics were not closed down

NEW YORK GOVERNOR MARIO Cuomo called it "democracy at work," and to those who watched the street fight over abortion in Buffalo last week, it seemed a fresh expression of America's divided conscience. But on the ground, the confrontation had all the emotional subtlety of a tantrum and the animation of a trench-warfare standoff. It left Buffalo lost between two realities. On the television screen, the city served up all the passion and props that courtroom terms like "strict scrutiny" and "compelling interest" cannot deliver. In the Buffalo area, however, the clinics were not closed down, traffic was hardly disrupted, and...

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