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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 25, 2007

CONTACT:

NAF Communications Department
202-667-5881
press@prochoice.org

Anti-Abortion Extremist James Kopp Convicted of Violating FACE Act

Today a jury in the federal trial of anti-abortion extremist and confessed murderer James Kopp found him guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and using a firearm to commit a violent act. Kopp is already serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian; this latest conviction could result in his sentence being increased to life without parole when he faces sentencing in June.

"Based on the evidence, we were certain that the jury would convict James Kopp," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). "He carefully planned this murder and deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. He should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole."

Acting as his own attorney, Kopp attempted to convince jurors that he only meant to wound Dr. Slepian to prevent him from performing abortions. This defense strategy proved unsuccessful with the jury. Throughout the trial Kopp repeatedly admitted to purchasing a semiautomatic rifle, practicing with the weapon, and then stalking Dr. Slepian outside his home. Kopp is also a suspect in the non-fatal shootings of four abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada during the 1990s.

"We cannot allow people to take the law into their own hands in order to advance their own personal, political agendas," Saporta said.

NAF was instrumental in advocating for the passage of the FACE Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. FACE prohibits the use of "force, threat of force or physical obstruction" to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services.

Since 1977 NAF has been compiling statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. The prosecution and conviction of anti-abortion extremists like James Kopp have led to a decrease in major acts of violence against abortion providers.

"Even though major acts of violence have decreased in recent years, many anti-abortion extremists still believe that it is justifiable to murder doctors because they provide women with safe and legal abortion care," said Saporta. "We hope this conviction sends a clear message that violence against abortion providers will not be tolerated and perpetrators of such crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

For background information on clinic violence, the FACE Act, James Kopp, and the Army of God, or to arrange an interview with Saporta, please contact Alexis Rice, Communications Director at NAF, at 202-667-5881 ext. 219.

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The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in both countries who choose abortion each year. For more information, visit our website at www.prochoice.org

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