Doctors cast wary eye over shoulders

Calgary Herald, Friday, November 14, 1997
By Rick Mofina and Sean Gordon

Before going to bed each night, the doctor parts the curtains and then scans the shadows in the adjacent alleyway.

The ritual is repeated upon waking.

It's a routine developed after years of being a Calgary abortion practitioner, years of looking over his shoulder, years of knowing he may be in the crosshairs of a high-power rifle scope.

"It's all about common sense, about being careful," said the Calgary physician, who asked his name not be published. "The best way to be safe is to have a bodyguard, which is ridiculous . . . I don't know anyone who cares to live that way, I certainly don't."

Tuesday's shooting of Dr. Jack Fainman, 66, at his Winnipeg home is a chilling reminder of the maelstrom orbiting the abortion debate. Fainman was shot Nov. 11.

Supporters fear attacks are linked

Dr. Garson Romalis was shot in his Vancouver, B.C. home Nov. 8, 1994 and Dr. Hugh Short was shot November 10, 1995 in his Hamilton, Ont. home.

While all three abortion doctors survived, pro-choice supporters fear the attacks are linked. Their concerns are heightened by the calculated terrorist attacks advocated in the "Army of God," the so-called underground bible of the extremist anti-abortion movement, which can be read on the Internet.

"We're convinced there's a pattern here," said Celia Posyniak, executive-director of Calgary's Kensington Clinic.

Michael O'Malley, a member of the city's mainstream pro-life movement, decried violent tactics.

"We're trying to say let's have respect for all human life," said O'Malley, president of the Human Life Centre of Alberta "Some people may feel that it's moral to use violence and murder, but that's against our doctrine. Murder is what we're trying to stop."

Winnipeg police have not dismissed the single-shooter theory.

"We haven't ruled out anything because of the similarities in the three cases. We're certainly leaning in that direction but we haven't ruled out anything," Insp Keith McCaskill said while police divers scoured the Red River for clues.

The Canadian shootings have been monitored by the National Abortion Federation in Washington, D.C., which works closely with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

The federation, a pro-choice group, said all its information on anti-abortion extremists has been passed to Canadian police intelligence.

"We know a number of anti-abortion extremist groups gather here and that Canadian extremists attend the same meetings," Vicki Saporta, the federation's executive-director, told the Herald from Phoenix, Ariz.

Saporta is convinced the Canadian shootings are linked. "Three separate shootings, three separate abortion doctors, at their homes in three separate provinces. Is that a coincidence?"

There are extreme members of the antiabortion movement who think killing abortionists is acceptable, said Steve Kent, a University of Alberta professor of sociology.

"They may feel the elimination of a few doctors who perform abortions will save hundreds of lives. Consequently, by their moral mathematics the killing of a doctor is acceptable, something they believe God will justify," Kent, an expert in religious extremists, said from Edmonton.

A disturbing entity in the extremist ProLife movement is the so-called Army of God, which is said to be based in Oregon.

"It's an underground group. It's out there," FBI Agent Gordon Compton said from Portland, Ore.

A guerrilla network patterned after the Irish Republican Army, the AOG excuses the "justifiable homicide" of abortion doctors.

The group's manual gives instructions on making plastic explosives, installing detonators and evading detection. "Annihilating Mortuaries is our purest form of worship," the manual states.

One tactic the AOG advocates is introducing butyric acid into an abortion clinic. The substance emits a strong vomit-like smell.

"The beauty of butyric acid is that it can introduce itself into a building without the aid of a Pro-lifer, the abortionist does not instantly think of you as the culprit" the manual states.

Last November, someone attempted to introduce butyric acid into Edmonton's Morgentaler Clinic. "It was an attempt from the outside, but it failed," Susan Fox, director of the clinic, said from Edmonton.

One vital aspect of the shootings and the acid attack is the significance of the incidents happening near Remembrance Day.

The theory of pro-choice supporters arises from comments made by abortion Dr. Henry Morgentaler, in October 1994. After opening a clinic in Ottawa, he claimed victory over the pro-life movement.

On Nov 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis, a Vancouver obstetrician-gynecologist, was shot in the leg while eating breakfast in his home.

"We think that was the response to Morgentaler's comments," said a spokesperson with the National Abortion Federation.

Take the pro-life motto of "Remember the Unborn," and the meaning of Remembrance Day, and the date now has a new meaning, Saporta said.

The November 11th significance may have to do with what pro-life groups call the "war against the unborn." Some groups have even used poppies on posters.

Although there were no prior threats made to Fainman or his wife, police say he was targeted because of his ties to abortions.

On Nov. l0, 1995, Dr. Hugh Short, a Hamilton gynecologist, was shot in the elbow while watching television.

On Nov 8, 1994, Romalis was shot.

Attacks on colleagues have sent a chill through Calgary's otherwise insular medical community. Few will discuss if they now take extra security precautions.

The Calgary doctor's wife ensures he doesn't stand near any large windows of his home. His relatives, even some children, are careful about giving any personal information when they answer the telephone. No paper record exists publicly that links him to his home address.

"We will possibly canvas the police and U.S. agencies as to what we can do to better protect ourselves and our loved ones," he said. "All this certainly makes us more cautious."

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