When I first heard Jim Kopp’s name linked to the shooting of Barnett Slepian, my immediate response was, “Not possible.” I didn’t know Jim well, but I had met him in San Francisco in 1989. I was in California for a number of media interviews. Jim lived in the area and was heavily involved in the rescue movement.
James Kopp has betrayed the pro-life movement and his friends.
Jim talked about his conversion to Catholicism and his consideration of the priesthood. He told me he had dedicated himself to the abortion struggle as a lifelong commitment. I could identify with that since I had made the same commitment myself right after the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling on January 22, 1973.
I was impressed with Jim’s devotion to the Church and his spiritual approach to the fight against abortion. I would have described Jim Kopp as a man of peace and action.
When Jim was arrested in France, I heard from close friends of his who were convinced that he was innocent. I talked with people who traveled to France specifically to see him and hear him say in his own words that he was not guilty. They believed him and I believed them. People who knew Jim well talked of his poor eyesight, which made it impossible for him to be a marksman, his leg injuries, which made it impossible for him to jog around Slepian’s neighborhood as witnesses claimed, and his deep faith and abhorrence of violence. I found these arguments pretty convincing. I believed Jim had been framed.
Now we find through his own admission that Jim Kopp not only did the shooting, but spent considerable time planning it, purchased a gun, took target practice to improve his aim, and staked out the area to find which abortionist’s home was most accessible.
Kopp’s interview with the Buffalo News states that he had to take forceful action because other tactics “didn’t work.” This demeans the entire pro-life movement. For more than thirty years, dedicated pro-lifers have worked to educate the public on the tragedy of abortion. Four thousand pregnancy assistance centers across the U. S. help thousands of women who face crisis pregnancies. Pro-life activists have protested and marched and even been arrested to highlight the value of the baby in the womb. Public opinion is moving slowly but steadily toward a pro-life position.
Kopp Denied Slepian the Chance To Convert
The struggle to restore protection to the unborn is not just about stopping abortion providers. It is about changing the culture—creating a culture that welcomes and respects human life. The Pro-Life Action League has hosted six pro-life conferences that featured former abortion providers who are now pro-life. These conferences tell what motivates a doctor, nurse or clinic worker to go into the business of abortion. They tell us what we can do to convince them that abortion is no solution.
Dr. Slepian might have changed his mind about abortion. Jim Kopp made that impossible.
The League has produced two videos with the testimony of the former abortion providers. The men and women featured on these tapes are now my good friends. And yet all of them once walked in Slepian’s shoes. All were responsible for the deaths of unborn babies. On our video, “Meet the Abortion Providers,” Dr. McArthur Hill says, “I am a murderer.” Dr. Tony Levatino says, “I was a hit man.” Like the former abortionists who testified at our six conferences, Dr. Slepian might have changed his mind about abortion. Pro-lifers in Buffalo had been meeting with him. He may have been on his way to joining the ranks of former abortion providers.
Jim Kopp made that impossible. From his own testimony, he did not even attempt to speak to Slepian. He didn’t call him on the phone or write him a letter inviting him to talk about his involvement in abortion. He didn’t ask to speak to him face to face. Instead, he stalked Slepian for a year, watched him from his back window and plotted how to shoot him. He denied Slepian the opportunity to turn from abortion. It appears that he never considered offering that opportunity.
Peaceful Activism is Successful
I hope Jim is wrong in saying others will take the kind of action he did. Resorting to violence is never justified. The pro-life movement has many effective weapons. We have prayer. We have compassion. We have crisis pregnancy centers and post-abortion counseling. We have pro-life legislators and lobbyists. We have activists on the streets who use their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly to proclaim the truth about abortion.
Violence is not an option. Anyone truly committed to saving babies can call the Pro-Life Action League.
Violence is not an option. Anyone who is truly committed to saving babies’ lives and putting an end to abortion can call the Pro-Life Action League. We will put you to work on “Face the Truth” tours, praying and counseling at the abortion clinics, writing letters to the editor, educating your friends about abortion and the alternatives readily available. We’ll send you our powerful videos, “No Greater Joy,” “Face the Truth,” “Meet the Abortion Providers,” “Abortion: the Inside Story,” and my book CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion. One of these ways is to convert an abortionist (Ch.38), not shoot one.
I am deeply disappointed in Jim Kopp. He deliberately misled those of us who believed in his innocence. While I believe he did not intend to kill Slepian, as he says, nevertheless he has betrayed the pro-life movement and his friends. Perhaps eventually he will come to see the extent of the evil he wrought against the pro-life cause, against the unborn, against his friends and against God. We must all continue to pray for Jim.
- Lifesite Daily News Article on the pro-life response to James Kopp’s confession