The son of a Buffalo gynecologist caught in the abortion wars charts the history of the pro-life movement and examines the effects of the murder of another doctor, a family friend and colleague, on the city, the movement and the nation.
In October 1998, the radical anti-abortionist James Kopp used an assault rifle to murder Dr. Barnett Slepian in his own kitchen as he waited for the microwave to heat his soup. The author, a freelance journalist, begins his first book with that murder and ends with the sentencing of Kopp, who was eventually apprehended in France. In between, Press relates his family’s emigration from Israel; summarizes the political and religious history of Buffalo and its suburb Amherst; retells the story of Roe v. Wade; and traces the growth of the anti-Roe forces, especially of the violent branch that emerged when the most of the country seemed to accept the principle of a woman’s right to choose. The author interviewed warriors on both sides of the abortion battles, cranked miles of newspaper microfilm and read the relevant texts (polemical and otherwise). As Press pursued his story, his admiration for his father grew. Dr. Press routinely had to enter his clinic by passing among ever more hostile protestors; he received death threats; and his family suffered numerous indignities, yet he remained committed to his practice, of which the practice of abortion was only a part. The younger Press praises his father’s “quiet determination, his fierce pride, his sense of duty, his refusal to compromise his beliefs in the face of a threat.” The author sees radical, uncompromising fundamentalism in all its incarnations as a grave threat to civility and to democracy.
An important, though partisan, history of an issue that has polarized the nation.