"For those who think that anti-abortion violence is a thing of the past, we hope the tragedy in Buffalo makes them think again," said NOW President Patricia Ireland following the fatal attack on Dr. Barnett Slepian at his home outside of Buffalo, NY.
NOW activists across the country are mourning Dr. Slepian's death. "He put his life on the line because he understood the needs of women, especially poor women," Buffalo NOW President Kathryn Lake Mazierski said. Abortion rights activists will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 PM tonight, at the Buffalo GYN Women's Services clinic where Dr. Slepian worked.
Despite the recent successes in the struggle to protect women's access to abortion and reproductive health services – like the passage of the Freedom to Access of Clinic Entrances (FACE) law, and NOW's recent victory in the landmark NOW v. Scheidler RICO case against anti abortion terrorists -- the climate at women's health clinics and at the homes of abortion providers is hostile and too often dangerous. "Women still run a gauntlet at abortion clinics. Doctors and staff at the clinics still face death threats, arson, bombing, stalking, extortion and murder. And abortion opponents who capitalize on these acts to instill fear in every clinic worker are just as guilty as those who light the match or pull the trigger," Ireland said.
NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy called on the Justice Department to take immediate action to stop anti-abortion violence. "It's long past time for the Justice Department to file criminal conspiracy charges against the nationwide ring of anti-abortion terrorists, as NOW did in civil court," Gandy said referring to the NOW v. Scheidler case. "They need to put the same resources into investigating this kind of domestic terrorism as they put into terrorism at the World Trade Center and the Atlanta Olympics," Gandy said.
"These terrorists have friends in high places. Their right-wing sympathizers in state legislatures and Congress give credence to their tactics by creating legislation to restrict or outright ban abortion. These measures will ultimately be as deadly for women as bombs or bullets," Ireland concluded.