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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Australian abortion clinic guard killed
Woman at abortion surgery
Abortion clinics are no strangers to violent attack
A gunman has shot dead a security guard at an abortion clinic in the Australian city of Melbourne.


Unborn children are being killed there. When you know that it is not surprising that somebody might want to take the law into their own hands

Margaret Tighe
Right to Life
Two men in the waiting room of the Fertility Control Clinic struggled with the man after he shot the guard in the face.

Police said the two men's action "quite easily avoided a massacre".

Police arrested the man and recovered the gun shortly afterwards from a nearby shop.

They refused to say whether the incident was an anti-abortion protest.

Guard armed

A witness said the arrested man was covered in blood and appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s.

A senior police officer, Detective Inspector Brian Rix, said the guard was armed, but did not have time to draw a gun.


It is a tragedy which emphasises the growing degree of violence against any medical staff

Australian Medical Association official
He added that there were 30 people in the clinic, in an eastern suburb of the city, at the time.

Anti-abortion activists had been protesting outside, but left 15 minutes before the incident occurred.

The president of an unrelated anti-abortion group, Right to Life, said she knew nothing about the shooting or the gunman.

"Unborn children are being killed there. When you know that it is not surprising that somebody might want to take the law into their own hands," said Margaret Tighe.

"They will try to point the finger at us when we have had nothing to do with it and I just want to say very strongly that I abhor the use of violence," she added.

No history of violence

The Fertility Control Clinic was Melbourne's first private clinic to carry out abortions.

It opened in 1972 following a campaign in the 1960s and early 70s against police protection of illegal abortion operators.

Australia has no history of violent attacks on abortion clinics, although pro-life and religious groups stage regular protests outside clinics.

The Australian Medical Association described the shooting as a "wake-up call" for all doctors to enhance security.

"It is a tragedy which emphasises the growing degree of violence against any medical staff, whether at hospitals, private clinics or other health-related facilities," said Mukesh Haikerwal, AMA president in the state of Victoria.

See also:

29 Mar 01 | Americas
Abortion doctor murder suspect held
13 Jul 00 | Americas
Canada abortion doctor stabbed
25 Oct 98 | Americas
US abortion doctor shot dead
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