On October 23, 1998, Doctor Barnett Slepian and his family returned home from religious services at their synagogue in Amherst, New York.

While in his kitchen, a sniper fired a bullet through the window striking Slepian in the back killing him.

It was the fifth straight year that a doctor who provided abortion services in upstate New York or Canada had been targeted by snipers associated with anti-abortion groups.

Only one of the five attacks occurring between October and November resulted in fatal injuries. Law enforcement believed the dates that attackers selected were to be around the time of Remembrance Day that is celebrated in Canada on November 11.

The Manhunt Is On

The trail of evidence led to James Charles “Atomic Dog” Kopp, a member of the Army of God, an anti-abortion terrorist group.

In spite of a $500,000 reward from the Justice Department, Kopp evaded capture and remained at large. He was place in the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

In 2001, Kopp was found hiding in France and was arrested for the murder of Slepian.

He was extradited to the US with the understanding that the death penalty would not be used against him. In May of 2003 Kopp received a sentence of 25 years to life.

Abortion Reduction

Due to the publicity surrounding the five shooting, four abortion doctors in upstate New York stopped the practice of providing abortions altogether and many staff members began looking for employment elsewhere.

Many abortion groups at the time were not shy about threats of violence on abortion providers. No one believed the shootings would end with the arrest and conviction of Kopp.

In addition to the “Army of God,” the “American Coalition of Life Activists,” also professed violence against abortion providers.

As a result there was a reduction in the number of abortions provided during this timeline.

Some Final Thoughts

Abortion is a very volatile subject. There is high emotion on both sides of the issue. There is no answer that will satisfy everyone.

No law, no religious direction, no ideology, can resolve the solution for this age-old practice. As long as abortions are wanted someone will provide them — legal or not.

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