On this day in 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was murdered in his home in Buffalo. James Charles Kopp, an anti-abortion activist and member of the violent cell Army of God, hunched in the woods outside Dr. Slepian’s home with an assult rifle. He fired a single shot through the window, hitting and killing the doctor. People were not surprised.
A sniper wielding a high-powered rifle from the cover of darkness shot and killed a well-known abortion doctor Friday night just days after U.S. and Canadian police warned of such an attack, citing four previous shootings against abortion doctors at this time of year in Canada and upstate New York. [Washington Post]
Long before Dr. Tiller was murdered, being an known provider of abortions meant taking your life in your hands, and possibly the lives of people you love. Dr. Slepian had to know he had a target on his head, and yet he kept providing healthcare to women who needed it. That is very brave. No one should have to risk their life just to do their job. And, if anything, things have only gotten worse.
At the beginning of this month, a clinic in Sunset Park stopped providing abortions, in part because of the constant harassment of protesters. In response, Christine Quinn announced on Friday that the city will be launching a clinic escort program.
“Dangerous rhetoric and disturbing protests outside reproductive health clinics have become increasingly divisive and disruptive to families who are trying to get health care,” Quinn said. “If you can’t get in the building where the health care is being offered, you do not actually have access to that health care.” [Daily News]
All around the country, people are losing access to abortions. Laws are being put in place to make it more difficult and expensive for clinics and patients. Often, in their zeal to shut down abortion clinics, pro-lifers are restricting access to prenatal care, cancer screenings, and gyno visits. This is a real problem, and a terrifying one, and one that is going to get thousands of times worse if Mitt Romney is elected in a few weeks.
But today let’s remember Dr. Slepian and the work he gave his life to continue doing. Out there, some healthcare provider is putting his or her life in danger to allow women to make choices about their bodies and fertility, knowing there isn’t much we can do to keep them safe. To them—thank you. Rest in peace, Dr. Slepian.