You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.
Dr. Barnett Slepian was murdered in his home by an anti-abortion militant, James Charles Kopp, on this date in 1998. Slepian, 52, was the primary obstetrics/gynecology doctor at a clinic that served mostly poor women in Buffalo, New York. The clinic had been targeted for protest and harassment by Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups, and Slepian had received hundreds of death threats. The father of four sons, he had just returned home with them from a memorial service for his own father at the family’s synagogue when he was shot through his window by a high-powered rifle. He was the fourth doctor and seventh person in the U.S. murdered for providing abortions. Kopp evaded arrest for four years with the help of a network of friends and anti-abortion militants. He is currently serving a sentence of 25 years to life for second-degree murder.
“Please don’t feign surprise, dismay, or certainly not innocence when a more volatile and less-restrained member of the group decides to react to their inflammatory rhetoric by shooting an abortion provider.” —Dr. Barnett Slepian, letter to Buffalo News, 1994
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.