No end to abortion fight seen after doctor's killing

March 13, 1993|By New York Times News Service

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Even as the family of Dr. David Gunn, who was fatally shot outside a new abortion clinic here Wednesday, prepared to bury him in Tennessee, both sides in the struggle over abortion here were preparing themselves yesterday for the next round of a confrontation that has been going on for more than a decade.

"Nothing is really going to change," Linda Taggart, the nurse who runs the Ladies Center, predicted shortly before leaving for the funeral. "We're not going to let these people take away women's rights, and they aren't going to back off."

The Ladies Center is an older clinic in Pensacola where Dr. Gunn had been scheduled to work yesterday.

John Burt, regional director of Rescue America, the group that sponsored the demonstration at which Dr. Gunn was killed, said he and his colleagues also "are in this for the long haul."

The spot where Dr. Gunn was killed was marked yesterday morning by a bouquet of flowers from his co-workers at Pensacola Women's Medical Services, to which a note was attached saying, "We miss you and love you."

In stark contrast, at Ms. Taggart's clinic, women in shirts marked "Escort" challenged all strangers who appeared on the grounds and offered protection to the few women who arrived for appointments still unaware that their doctor was dead.

Dr. Gunn, who traveled throughout Florida, Alabama and Georgia, was the only doctor regularly performing abortions in this area of the Florida Panhandle.

Siobhan McLaughlin, head of the National Organization for Women in Florida, said clinics not only in Pensacola but "across the state will be stepping up efforts" to provide more security to patients and workers.

Ms. Taggart and other clinic workers said they found it ironic that Dr. Gunn had been shot outside Pensacola Women's Medical Services, which opened little more than a month ago in an office and shopping mall. The Ladies Center has been in operation for many years, but because of several attacks, including a bombing in 1984, was heavily fortified and defended to discourage assaults on employees or patients.

Mr. Burt indicated that he had no plan to demonstrate outside the Ladies Center yesterday, as his group has done almost every Friday since the early 1980s.

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