We are very sad to report the passing of longtime NAF member Dr. Gary Romalis. Dr. Romalis had been hospitalized for several weeks and died peacefully surrounded by his family January 30 in Vancouver.
Dr. Romalis began providing abortion care in 1972, and worked for NAF members the Elizabeth Bagshaw Women's Clinic and the CARE program at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre in Vancouver for nearly the last 20 years.
He was very proud of being an abortion provider and drew much satisfaction from his work. In 2008, the National Post published his inspiring account of why he provided abortions:
“I love my work. I get enormous personal and professional satisfaction out of helping people, and that includes providing safe, comfortable, abortions. The people that I work with are extraordinary, and we all feel that we are doing important work, making a real difference in peoples' lives.”
As a result of his work, Dr. Romalis endured violence and harassment, including protesters at his office and home, and survived two attempts on his life at the hands of anti-abortion extremists. In 1994, he suffered a severe gunshot wound to his left thigh, and six years later in 2000, he was stabbed. Both injuries could have been fatal. Although they forced him to take extra security precautions, these attempts on his life did not stop him from providing abortion care. Dr. Romalis remained committed because he knew his work made a real difference:
“I can take a woman, in the biggest trouble she has ever experienced in her life, and by performing a five-minute operation, in comfort and dignity, I can give her back her life.”
Dr. Romalis was awarded NAF’s C. Lalor Burdick Award in 2001.This award honors “unsung heroes” in our movement whose work exemplifies the excellence, commitment, and dedication that are the ideals of NAF members.
A memorial service was held in Vancouver on February 3.
Dr. Romalis was a respected physician, admired colleague, and dear friend to many of us. He will be greatly missed by the NAF community. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.