Abortion-Performing Doctor Is Murdered: The First Time It Made National News

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Dr. Barnett Slepian wasn't the first doctor to be killed for performing abortions, but his death in 1998 was the first one that made national headlines. Why? What was different about his death, and how did it change the abortion conversation?

Not The First

Slepian's slaying was not only not the first murder of an abortion provider in the States, it wasn't even the first attack to occur in Buffalo. In April 1992, 200 pro-life protesters descended on Buffalo for the "Spring of Life," a series of coordinated demonstrations that quickly got out of hand but didn't end in murder.

The next year, however, a doctor at a clinic in Pensacola, Florida was shot dead by a sniper. The death of Dr. David Gunn was hardly covered in the media, but its aftershocks were felt keenly in the medical community. In fact, Slepian himself spoke to the media about it. "It probably hits home a little bit because it could have been me," he told the Buffalo News. "For years I've felt, and I still feel, it could happen to me or to someone around here." Three more abortion providers were killed by 1998—one every year.