Pro-life movement condemns attack on Slepian

Police in Canada and the U.S. are on the trail of James Charles Kopp, said to be a material witness – but not a suspect – in the slaying of Buffalo ob-gyn Barnett Slepian. Slepian was shot in the back through his kitchen window, by a sniper hiding in the bushes outside, on Oct. 23.

Slepian became the seventh abortion provider to be murdered since 1977, and the third since 1993.

The FBI say there are similarities between the three November shootings in Canada which occurred on or near Remembrance Day and an Oct. 28, 1997 shooting of a doctor in Perinton, N.Y., near Rochester. The Buffalo News quoted sources close to the investigation who say it is too early to tell if the shootings are related.

Kopp is said to have entered Canada in time periods corresponding with three previous attacks on Canadian abortionists. He is also said to bear a resemblance to a man who has been sending to media outlets packages containing threats against abortionists.

Media reports said Kopp was an active member of Operation Rescue in the U.S. during the 1980s.

At the Oct. 19 press conference in Winnipeg, a police spokesman said, “These shootings have occurred in late October and early November and apparent similarities between the incidents make it reasonable to conclude that the same offender(s) are responsible.”

The four doctors were known to perform abortions and all were shot through a window in the rear of their homes. Dr. Garson Romalis of Vancouver was shot in 1994, Dr. Hugh Short of Ancaster, Ont. was hit in 1995, and Dr. Jack Fainman of Winnipeg was shot in 1997. The FBI will not release details of the Perinton shooting, an incident not previously made public. All four of those doctors survived the shootings.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim that CLC has condemned the shootings and has worked with the police to help create a profile of the shooter. He said he does not think pro-life groups are behind the attacks and suggests the culprit could be someone whose child was killed by abortion.

Pro-life ‘rhetoric’ blamed

The Buffalo News reported the investigation is looking at a possible conspiracy involving more than a solitary shooter. The task force has not said whether they think the shooter acted alone.

To catch the person whom abortion supporters have dubbed “the Remembrance Day Sniper,” the law enforcement task force announced a reward of at least $100,000 (the figure has yet to be finalized), while Canadian medical organizations are promising to raise money to put the reward at $1 million. The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for Slepian’s killer.

Police warned doctors to be on the look-out as Remembrance Day neared, although reporters from Buffalo-area TV stations claim they were told by the police not to raise undue concern by broadcasting sensational warnings. The task force’s statement said, “We have taken steps to provide advice on personal security measures for physicians who may be vulnerable.”

After the Buffalo shooting, U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno announced U.S. marshals will review security measures for “every abortion provider in the country” who requests it. She also said the government will protect doctors coming to Buffalo to commit abortions following Slepian’s murder, by escorting them from the airport and keeping them in a secure location.

In Canada, pro-abortion activists, including abortionist Henry Morgentaler, denounced the federal and provincial governments for not responding publicly to Slepian’s murder.

Carla Eckhardt, of the Washington D.C.-based National Abortion Federation, said in an Associated Press story that some Canadian anti-abortion activists refer to the Nov. 11 holiday as “Remember the Unborn Children Day.” Most U.S. news reports now repeat this claim.

Untrue and unfair

Hughes said the Remembrance Day-abortion link is untrue and unfair. He said pro-abortion organizations are using the shootings to advance their own agenda by linking extremists with mainstream pro-life organizations.

The admittedly “pro-choice” Buffalo News ran a long cover story, “Anti-abortion radical fringe rejoiced in physician’s murder,” as well as an editorial condemning pro-lifers for “inflammatory rhetoric” which “can only aid and abet the kind of extremist who hid behind Dr. Slepian’s house Friday night and killed him in his home.”

Pro-life groups have been quick to condemn Slepian’s murder, however. The CLC press release said, “We condemn the shooting of the Buffalo abortionist and all acts of violence against those involved in the abortion industry.” CLC also urged the perpetrator(s) to surrender to the police immediately. In the U.S., the National Right to Life Committee, Women and Children First, Lutherans for Life, and Buffalo’s Roman Catholic Bishop Henry J. Mansell, among many others, all condemned the killing.