Local abortion clinic security upped

BY KATIE SIMS | JUNE 08, 2009 7:26 AM

A temporary security guard patrolled outside the Emma Goldman Clinic last week in the wake of the killing of a prominent abortion provider.

Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to increase security for abortion clinics and doctors after George Tiller, one of the handful of physicians in the country who provided late-term abortions, was fatally shot at his church May 31.

With increased security warnings, the guard provided comfort to clients and staff, said Jennifer Price, the director of administrative services at the clinic.

Workers at Emma Goldman maintained a close relationship with Tiller over the years and referred women to his practice.

“He was very kind and compassionate to the women he served,” Price said. “He really became a role model for abortion clinics.”

Tiller performed controversial late-term abortions, those that occur after the 20th week of gestation, in Wichita, Kan. He was frequently a target for mass protests by anti-abortion groups, and some turned violent. His clinic was bombed in 1986, and he was shot in both arms in 1993.

“I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services,” President Obama said in a May 31 news release.

Tiller’s death has sparked feelings of fear in some, but Price said Emma Goldman will continue to provide abortions and offer support to its patients. Some staff members have been wearing black ribbons as a tribute to Tiller.

Price said she feels “sadness for him and his family and staff, and absolutely for the women.”

The security guard — who was hired for a week — was a short-term solution, Price said. Reports show even security personnel may be targeted; in 1998, an off-duty police officer guarding a Birmingham, Ala., clinic was killed by a bomb.

Future decisions regarding security depend on what happens with clients, staff, and the environment.

Price said: “We will continue to buffer women from violence and protect them as much as we can.”

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