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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2003

CONTACT

Communications Department
202-667-5881

Trial of Confessed Murderer and Anti-Choice Extremist James Kopp to Begin Today

Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation

Washington, DC - James Kopp last week waived his right to a jury trial for the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian and will be appearing in court today for a bench trial. Regardless of the trial process, Kopp must be held accountable for his actions and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

In November 2002 Kopp confessed to the murder of Dr. Slepian. Unfortunately there are many anti-choice extremists who believe that it is justifiable to kill doctors because they provide women with safe and legal abortion care. The Army of God, of which Kopp is a member, supports the use of force to end abortion. Let me be clear, violence against abortion providers is never acceptable or justified.

For over 25 years, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been compiling statistics on anti-choice violence and disruption. Our database is the most comprehensive of its kind and often allows us to predict trends in violence aimed at abortion providers. One trend we have documented is that when one murderer is brought to justice another one is quickly recruited to become the next assassin.

Kopp's trial must not lead to another series of assassination attempts directed at physicians who provide abortions. We therefore continue to urge law enforcement to remain especially vigilant in enforcing the law and prosecuting those who would use violence to advance their own personal, political agendas.

We hope that justice will be served today. We know that the trial cannot bring back Dr. Slepian, but we do hope that it will send a clear message to extremists that violence against abortion providers is not justifiable and will not be tolerated.

For background information on clinic violence, James Kopp and the Army of God, or to arrange an interview with Vicki Saporta, please contact the NAF office at 202-667-5881, ext. 217.

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The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.
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