Doctor Murdered as Anti-Abortion Violence and Terrorism Continue

By Bennett-Haigney, Lisa | National NOW Times, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

Doctor Murdered as Anti-Abortion Violence and Terrorism Continue


Bennett-Haigney, Lisa, National NOW Times


NOW Demands That "Pro-Life" Activists Take Responsibility

On Jan. 22, the 26th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, NOW is urging those who call themselves "pro-life" to show their respect for human life by turning in those who are guilty of anti-abortion violence as well as those sought for questioning by the authorities, and by discontinuing their thinlyveiled "hit lists" of doctors. NOW chapters will also honor those who have lost their lives defending a woman's constitutional right to abortion and show support for the heroic women and men who continue to put their safety at risk to ensure that full reproductive services are available.

"Those who call themselves 'pro-life' must start taking responsibility for the climate of hate and fear that they have helped create in this country. And that includes lawmakers and law enforcement officers who refuse to go after these criminals with the same fervor they would any other kind of terrorist," said NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy.

"If you truly do not want the blood of another dead doctor on your hands, take down the wanted posters and lists of abortion providers. Turn in to the authorities those among you who are guilty of violence."

As the National NOW Times went to press, three named men were still at large. Eric Robert Rudolph is charged with the January 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., clinic that killed a security guard and seriously injured a nurse, as well as bombings at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, at a lesbian bar in Atlanta and another clinic in Georgia. James Charles Kopp, an antiabortion protestor who has been arrested outside of clinics, is wanted as a material witness in the shooting death of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian. Ronald Stauber and Michael Gingrich were also wanted for questioning in connection with the slaying, and one ofthe men has already been interviewed and released.

The Oct. 23, 1998, murder of Slepianless than a year after the Birmingham killing-sent a shocking reminder that law-abiding citizens are literally under attack.

"As we mourn Dr. Slepian's death, we also celebrate his life and the example of bravery and commitment he set when he faced down anti-abortion terrorists day-in and day-out - at work and at home," said Gandy.

A sniper shot Slepian in the kitchen of his home just outside Buffalo, N.Y., with his wife and children in the house. Authorities believe that this killing is the latest in a series of shootings in Canada and western New York that have occurred around Nov. 11, Veteran's Day, or Remembrance Day as it is called in Canada. This would be the first to result in death; the other four doctors were all injured, some permanently.

Reproductive rights supporters across the country responded immediately to this latest act of violence. The day after the murder, Buffalo NOW chapter activists and dozens of other supporters participated in a candlelight vigil outside Slepian's office. A news conference was called the following Thursday by New York NOW President Lois Shapiro-Canter, Buffalo NOW President Kathryn Lake Mazierski and the Lt. Gov. of New York, Betsy McCaughey Ross. And on Oct. 31, more than 500 activists attended a rally in downtown Buffalo.

"I have heard people on TV debating the murder of Dr. Slepian. This is no occasion for debate," said Shapiro-Canter. "There was no debate when the federal building was bombed in Oklahoma. …

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