Volume 92, Issue 36

Friday, November 6, 1998

bigger than the post


Abortion doctors warned

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

In the wake of the murder of an American doctor who performed abortions, London police are advising London doctors on methods of personal safety and means of reporting any threatening incidents.

Barnett Slepian, the murder victim, was shot and killed at his Buffalo home on Oct. 23.

Sgt. John O'Flaherty of the London police explained a task force has been assembled to investigate the murder and other incidents relating to high-profile shootings of abortion doctors.

An officer from the London police crime unit has been assigned as liaison to the joint task force of Canadian and United States police, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, O'Flaherty said.

"We get intelligence daily from the task force so we can pass on information to any doctors we feel are at risk," he said. "We've talked to them about personal safety, what they should be doing [for protection] and what to look out for."

O'Flaherty said while he was not privy to any information about whether or not the killer may be in Canada, police have a warrant out for a male in Vermont who is being sought as a material witness.

"It is believed that he has information that will help the investigation," O'Flaherty said. He added there have been no incidents of violent nature against abortion doctors in London.

Nancy Lawrence, a communication officer for the women's health care centre at the London Health Sciences Centre, said the London police have instructed the LHSC not to comment and to keep a low profile in order to act in the best interest and safety of its employees.

Jim Hughes, national president of the Campaign Life Coalition, said his organization has denounced the murder of Slepian and all types of violence and he hopes the lead results in an arrest.

"I think that if they apprehend this person it will deter anyone who decides to take the law into their own hands," Hughes said.

Jenn Thomas, a third-year Western science student thought putting time and energy into protecting doctors was a merited initiative. "If I was an abortion doctor, any advice would be something you would want to listen to."

Thomas said she hoped gathering information on the murder would help lead police to an arrest.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998