A gynecologist who survived a 1994 assassination attempt believed linked to militant anti-abortion activists was stabbed today.
Vancouver police urged abortion providers in the city to go on high alert following the stabbing of Dr. Garson Romalis.
Romalis was stabbed in the back. His injuries are not life-threatening.
“This does not appear to be a random attack,” Const. Anne Drennan said.
Other abortion providers “should be extremely cautious at this time. They’re encouraged to remain vigilant.”
Drennan said the doctor was attacked in his office building by a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up.
She said when he was attacked the doctor apparently believed he had only been punched.
She said he followed his attacker, then realized he was bleeding and went into a pharmacy in the building to ask for help.
People in the pharmacy called police.
An Intended Attack
“The suspect seemed to realize the party was going to be where he was at this moment and he could easily approach him from behind and the fact that he was wearing dark clothing with the hood up,” Drennan said.
“We think…it was an intended attack.”
She described the suspect as light-skinned and about 20 years old.
Drennan refused to release the name of the doctor, saying the stabbing victim had made an explicit request that his name not be released.
However, an office worker in the medical building where Romalis works confirmed the stabbing.
Attorney General Andrew Petter said his heart went out to the Romalis family.
“It’s an awful, awful thing to have happened…Obviously this is a tragedy and one that sickens me.”
Sniper Later Killed New York Doctor
Romalis was the first of five doctors in Canada and the northeastern United States to be hit by sniper’s bullets. One of them — Dr. Barnett Slepian, of Amherst, N.Y., — was killed in 1998 by a bullet fired through his kitchen window.
The other three were shot in Winnipeg, Ancaster, Ont., near Hamilton, and Rochester, N.Y., a Buffalo suburb. They were injured but survived.
James Kopp, an American anti-abortion activist, was charged in the Slepian killing but remains at large. Kopp is wanted in the other shootings and was previously wanted on a Canadian immigration warrant.
The FBI has said there is little doubt the same man pulled the trigger each time.
A joint Canadian-American team based in Winnipeg has been established to investigate the shootings.
Activists Respond With Horror
Both sides in the abortion debate reacted to today’s stabbing with horror.
“Here we have an abortion doctor being targeted in the most vile, violent way by a fanatic and it’s extremely upsetting,” said Joyce Arthur, a spokeswoman for the Pro-Choice Action Network.
“We’re really tired of dealing with this violence all the time.”
Monica Roddis, executive director of B.C. Pro-Life Society, insisted strongly that members within the “formal, official pro-life movement are absolutely against violence of any kind, and particularly against the violence against doctors.
“Anyone who does this, is not part of the pro-life movement…we absolutely disassociate ourselves entirely from anyone who does this kind of thing.”