Spring of Life : Abortion Battleground in Buffalo


Spring of Life : Abortion Battleground in Buffalo


Following Easter Sunday in 1992, the pro-life group Operation Rescue staged its “Spring of Life” demonstrations in front of several Western New York abortion clinics. Anti-abortion activists had been invited by Buffalo mayor Jimmy Griffin to stage their demonstrations in Western New York. New York State abortion law had gone into effect in 1970, allowing abortions during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. 
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and national director Rev. Keith Tucci made appearances. The campaign was modeled after a 46 day protest a year earlier in Wichita, Kansas. During those “Summer of Mercy” sit-ins and blockades, 2,600 people were arrested. Three abortion clinics were closed for a week. 
The Buffalo demonstrations lasted two weeks, resulting in more than 620 arrests. Many pro-choice activists showed up, locking arms in front of the clinics, preventing them from closing.  During the two weeks of demonstrations, one rear driveway to the Buffalo GYN Womenservices clinic on Main Street was blocked for a few hours.
The “Spring of Life” demonstrations attracted national media attention, and served as the lead news story on the nation’s major networks. The Rev. Robert Schenck, an anti-abortion activist, was arrested for disorderly conduct after carrying a 19 week old human fetus and holding it up to abortion-rights demonstrators. His brother Paul, also a minister, was arrested for trespassing after boarding the bus where his brother was being held by the police.
Dr. Barnett Slepian, who provided abortions at a women’s clinic Buffalo, was one of five doctors targeted by anti-abortion demonstrators. His house was picketed and he became increasingly concerned about the safety of his family and his own vulnerability. Six years after the Spring of Life demonstrations he was assassinated in his suburban Buffalo home while preparing soup in his kitchen. James Kopp, the man convicted of his murder, had been nicknamed “Atomic Dog” by radical elements in the anti-abortion movement.

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