Ten years ago today, Dr. Barnett Slepian, an ob/gyn who performed abortions in upstate New York, was making soup when he was shot and killed in his own home. His was one of two dozen murders or attempted murders of abortion providers at the end of the 20th century -- a deeply disturbing low-point of anti-abortion extremism.
A decade later, anti-abortion extremists are using other, more insidious tactics -- like intimidating women on their way to access safe and legal health care, or tricking women with so-called “crisis pregnancy centers”. Although most of the protesters during these 40 Days stints are not aggressive or violent, their presence reminds me of where we’ve been -- and where I hope we never go again.
Murder makes headlines -- and a mockery of the so-called “pro-life” label. The quiet, consistent chipping away at reproductive freedom operates well beneath the radar. It’s our job to fight against it, work around it, make sure that women who need health care and support can still get the services that they need.
When I think back to the death of Dr. Slepian, I think, too, of the brave women and men who went back to work at health care centers that provide abortion in the days after his murder, not knowing if or when they might be targeted, as well. And I think of all the brave women and men at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country, just like my own, who go to work every day, amid the shouting and the signs. We go to work to honor the work of people like Dr. Slepian, and to make sure that we never go back.
I am Emily X.
I am Planned Parenthood.