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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Canada abortion doctor stabbed
Vancouver
Vancouver is going ahead with trials of a new abortion drug
Police in Canada are investigating whether the stabbing of a prominent abortion doctor was linked to plans to conduct trials of a controversial abortion pill.

The doctor, Garson Romalis, is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital after the stabbing, which took place on Tuesday in the lobby of his clinic in the western city of Vancouver.

Garson Romalis
Garson Romalis: Attacked by a sniper in 1994

He was stabbed once in the side by a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

Last week, Canadian health officials approved tests of the French abortion drug, mifepristone (RU-486).

In response to the attack, security has been stepped up at abortion clinics in the Vancouver area.

In 1994, Dr Romalis was shot in a sniper attack linked to an anti-abortion activist - James Charles Kopp - who is wanted in the United States in connection with the 1998 killing of an abortion doctor.

Mr Kopp has been linked to at least five attacks on abortion providers in Canada and the US.

The new abortion pill, used in Europe to end pregnancies, was previously banned in Canada.

Vancouver clinic
The Vancouver clinic where Dr Romalis was stabbed

The Vancouver doctor organising the drug's clinical trials, Ellen Wiebe, said she had received a death threat by phone on Tuesday night.

After the stabbing, she said the tests would still go ahead. Canadian health officials say the trials will be conducted in Vancouver and two other cities.

Abortion has been legal and freely available in Canada since 1988, when the Supreme Court struck down the country's anti-abortion law.

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See also:

25 Oct 98 | Americas
US abortion doctor shot dead
03 Feb 99 | Americas
Violence and the pro-life campaign
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