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The Doctor, The Niece, and The Killer

No one disputes what happened: Anti-abortion activist Jim Kopp shot Dr. Bart Slepian through his kitchen window. As the trial begins next week, Slepian’s niece recounts her struggle to understand why.


Next monday, i will sit in a courtroom and watch the man who killed my uncle face justice. Friends think this should give me great satisfaction, but really I just feel nauseated. I’m afraid my uncle will be smeared. I’m afraid my aunt and cousins will lose ground on their hard-fought battle to live normally. And I’m afraid my uncle’s killer, whom I’ve met and corresponded with, will smile at me. The only things I’ve packed so far are waterproof mascara and anti-anxiety medication. • The case of The People of the State of New York v. James Kopp is unusual because the prosecution and defense agree on almost all of the facts. My uncle, Bart Slepian, was an Amherst, New York, obstetrician-gynecologist in private practice. By the late nineties, he was also the youngest of four doctors in greater Buffalo willing to work at the region’s only abortion clinic. Jim Kopp is a microbiologist turned anti-abortion activist. Totally committed to poverty, chastity, and protecting “life,” he was admired in anti-abortion circles for being so “Christ-like.”

To read more of this article, check out the March 17, 2003 issue of New York magazine.


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