*** ANTI-ABORTION COP USES POLICE COMPUTER TO TRACK CLINIC WORKERS ***
*** ANTI-ABORTION COP USES POLICE COMPUTER TO TRACK CLINIC WORKERS ***
** Reliance on the State Is No Substitute for Clinic Defense **
By Tom Burghardt
Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR)
* * * * *
(San Francisco) January 16 -- A British Columbia police officer
is under investigation for using the Canadian Police Information
Computer (CPIC) to track clinic workers and patients at Vancouver
women's clinics, according to a report published in the VANCOUVER
Constable Steve Parker, a former treasurer of Campaign Life
B.C., made a number of unauthorized requests over a two year
period. When asked to comment Parker said, "I am not denying
anything as far as that goes...if you've got that information, go
ahead and publish it."
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which runs
the CPIC national police computer system, Parker obtained private
information on three workers at Everywoman's Health Centre in
Vancouver. An earlier report in the VANCOUVER SUN, stated that
sensitive information on eight clinic workers had been obtained.
There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Clinic workers using freedom of information requests,
learned that their home addresses and numbers, were obtained by
Constable Parker from insurance records stored in the police
Despite the fact that these requests were filed in November,
according to published reports the clinic workers only learned
ten days ago that sensitive personal information had been passed
to anti-abortion operatives.
Gordon Watson, an anti-abortion extremist, testified in
court last September that he routinely gathered license plate
numbers at Vancouver clinics. Information obtained by Watson and
other anti-abortion cadres have routinely been used for "No Place
to Hide" harassment campaigns against clinic workers, patients
and abortion providers.
In Vancouver, physicians have been the routine target of
pickets organized by Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) activists.
Last September, workers at Everywoman's Health Centre complained
to police that anti-abortion operatives were taking license plate
numbers at the clinic. Clinic staff, patients and their families
have been contacted by anti-abortion activists and picketing
campaigns have been organized at the homes of abortion providers.
Such activities are particularly unnerving to clinic
workers. On November 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis, a Vancouver
gynecologist and abortion provider was shot and seriously wounded
in his home as he sat eating breakfast. Dr. Romalis required
more than eight hours of surgery to save his life after his femur
and femoral artery were shattered by an assassin's bullet. The
gunman is still at large.
While "mainstream" abortion opponents such as Ted Gerk of
B.C. Pro-Life and John Hof of Campaign Life Coalition, quickly
issued press statements that sought to distance their respective
organizations from the attack, other voices in the "pro-life"
community offered a different perspective.
Gordon Watson and Christine Hendrix, regular picketers and
harassers of women and abortion providers, dissented from the
damage control mission of "mainstream" organizations such as CLC.
"That bullet brought the message home to Dr. Romalis more
than anything else would have," Watson said. Watson's remarks
were printed in the January 1995 issue of the anti-abortion
journal, LIFE ADVOCATE.
Mr. Hof would be well-advised to consider statements
reported by the VANCOUVER SUN in the October 7, 1991 edition of
the paper. Hof stated publicly that if the Provincial government
funded free-standing abortion clinics "There's going to be blood
in the streets."
While there is no evidence linking Mr. Hof's CLC to the
attempted assassination of Dr. Romalis, a similar rhetoric
linking abortion to "murder" seeks to demonize opponents. Like
many "rescue" groups in the United States, the CLC is armed with
a far-right political agenda that extends far beyond the issue of
According to a report published by Everywoman's Health
Centre in Vancouver, the Canadian Life Coalition: Opposes "the
human pesticide," RU-486 and has organized a boycott of Hoechst,
its manufacturer; opposes funding for Planned Parenthood; condom
distribution in schools; any form of contraception; abortion
under all circumstances -- "and there are no exceptions: not
rape, not incest, not physical handicaps, not even the life of
The CLC is opposed to daycare and government funding for
public health nurses. Their position on queer rights is equally
instructive: "to have become a homosexual is to have acquired a
moral disorder. To indulge in homosexual activity is to pervert
human sexuality." They are opposed to euthanasia under all
circumstances and support censorship in the arts. Similar to
many other Christian Right extremist groups, the CLC blames
violence against women on the "feminist movement."
They have publicly stated that "we CAN and should impose our
views in a pluralistic society." To achieve their broad
political goals CLC calls for confrontation: "let us confront
the abortionists everywhere; let us have MORE militancy, not
Campaign Life Coalition was the main organizational
framework for Operation Rescue in Canada during 1988 and 1989,
organizing OR clinic blockades from their Toronto office. In the
early 1980's the CLC "sent out a confidential circular to its
members on how to steal lists of operating room slates from
hospitals to prove they were doing abortions."
The group's journal, THE INTERIM, has boasted of their
infiltration of pro-choice groups and outlined a strategy of
residential picketing and a broad harassment campaign similar to
those organized in the United States against abortion providers.
(Source: Everywoman's Health Centre, 1994, Vancouver, British
When the CLC's far-right politics are given covert and overt
support by police officers such as Constable Steve Parker, a
former Treasurer of the organization, clinic workers, clinic
defenders and health care providers have good reason to be
extremely alarmed by evidence of such collaboration.
A similar breech of police security was uncovered in
California in 1992. A former Anaheim police employee, Lisa
Lorraine Villarreal, admitted she had used police computers in
order to pass information on doctors, clinic workers and patient
escorts to members of Operation Rescue of California in Tustin.
Villarreal admitted taking information on four people from
state driving records stored in the Anaheim PD's computer.
Operation Rescue cadres subsequently picketed a number of homes
with the information supplied by Villarreal.
While "mainstream" feminist organizations such as the
National Organization for Women (NOW), the Fund for a Feminist
Majority (FFM), and others urge clinic defenders and activists to
rely on Janet Reno and the Justice Department, the track record
of federal investigatory agencies such as the FBI and Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) is anything but comforting.
[Text deleted for space]
The Heritage Front and other neo-Nazi organizations consider
a women's right to control her body to be a component of an
"international Jewish plot" aimed at "white genocide." In May
1992, Canadian abortion rights pioneer, Dr. Henry Morgentaler's
clinic was destroyed by a powerful bomb. No suspect was ever
apprehended. Both Dr. Morgentaler and Dr. Romalis are prominent
leaders of Canada's Jewish community.
Bristow had been involved in sneaking Tom Metzger, organizer
of the violent White Aryan Resistance (WAR) gang illegally across
the border into Canada. Metzger has spoken at Heritage Front
rallies on many occasions, even though he banned from entering
Metzger boasted that Bristow "had passed him enough money to
make the Canadian taxpayers angry" and that the CSIS/Heritage
Front leader "gave him a list of prominent Jews."
BACORR will continue to urge clinic defense activists,
partisans of women's liberation, trade unionists, leftists,
health care providers and clinic workers to rely only on the
power of independent mass mobilization and direct action to keep
our clinics open.
While we agree that health care providers, clinic workers
and patients have a right to practice medicine or obtain
reproductive health care without the threat of being assaulted,
gunned-down or blown up, we disagree fundamentally with those who
argue that the State has any interest whatsoever in defending
After 6 murders, 15 people wounded, hundreds of assaults,
close to 150 clinic bombings, more than 600 incidents of clinic
vandalism, death threats, concerted campaigns of harassment and
psychological terror, are we to seriously believe that the State
has suddenly undergone a dramatic sea-change and now takes the
far-rights' on-going campaign of violence seriously? Has our
movement sunk so low that we are now urged to believe that those
who incinerated 86 human beings in Waco, Texas in 1993 are our
In light of the murderous strategy pursued by the anti-
abortion movement, we strongly insist that it is a fundamental
right of those under attack to defend themselves by ALL
appropriate means available. Those who argue otherwise are
crafting a suicidal political strategy; one which has more than a
small hint of "Weimar" about it.
BACORR: DEFENDING CLINICS, EXPOSING TERRORISM -- BECAUSE NO
ONE'S GONNA DO IT FOR US!