Abortion Shootings
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  Canada Abortion Doctor Shot at Home by Sniper

By Anne Swardson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 9, 1994; Page A44

TORONTO, NOV. 8 -- A Vancouver abortion doctor was in serious condition after being shot in the leg early this morning through a window of his home in what police called a carefully planned attack, probably with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Vancouver police said gynecologist Garson Romalis suffered a wound to the upper leg and damage to the femoral artery. His wife and daughter, also home at the time, were unhurt.

The Romalis house has been picketed by antiabortion groups in the past, according to police and neighbors. Police said they did not have a suspect.

The shooting was by far the most violent antiabortion incident in Canada, a country where crimes of violence involving firearms are rare. The only other serious abortion-related crime was the destruction by firebomb of an abortion clinic in Toronto in 1992. No one was arrested in that case.

Today's incident seemed likely to increase calls for tougher gun-control laws in Canada. Already, controls are much stricter here than in the United States, but Justice Minister Allan Rock is in the process of drafting a package of additional restrictions for Parliament to consider.

"I'm absolutely shocked that somebody would be shot," Mark Schonfeld, president of the British Columbia Medical Association, told the Canadian Press. "It's just so foreign to our way of life and our thinking."

Romalis was shot while eating breakfast in his kitchen in an affluent neighborhood on the west side of town. Two bullets pierced a sliding glass door, police said. They apparently were fired from a lane behind the Romalis home.

Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, and more than 100,000 abortions are performed here each year. Several Canadian provinces have tried to stop abortion doctors from setting up clinics within their borders, but they generally have been defeated in court.

The weapon that police said may have been used in the shooting, a semiautomatic AK-47, is legal in Canada, though Rock has said he would like to propose banning semiautomatic weapons in his anti-crime package if he can get enough colleagues in the cabinet to agree.

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post

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