The assassination-style killing of Dr. Barnett Slepian in his upstate New York home last Friday has sent shock waves through the nation’s abortion clinics and sparked fear among doctors who choose to perform the procedure.
Abortion is a highly emotional subject that can draw out some of the worst traits in people on both sides of the issue. Whether a person avidly opposes abortion or supports the right to choose, no one can argue that the murder of an individual is a moral or positive action.
After the shooting, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) said, “this is a constitutionally protected medical procedure and there is a terrorist movement trying to make it impossible.” An Internet site lists doctors who perform abortions. After Slepian’s murder, his name was crossed off that list.
It is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to protect citizens. Whether the shooter was a lone gunman or part of a larger group of radicals who support the use of violence, law enforcement agencies must go to whatever lengths they can to find the people who are responsible for this deplorable act.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two decades ago that abortions are legally protected. The debate over abortion will not be won by bullets or bombs. Acts of violence against doctors who perform abortions and the clinics where they work may make it more difficult for women to attain abortions for a time, but it will not change the law.
Studies indicate fewer doctors are willing to perform abortions these days, proof that this violence is having an effect. Law enforcement agencies must put forth a greater effort to control these groups.
When the line between free expression and violence is crossed, it is time for law enforcement agencies to intervene before they are forced to investigate yet another bombing or shooting. Abortions are legal; blowing up clinics or shooting clinic workers is not. Abortion should be debated with words, not blood.