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Mourners Remember Slain Doctor

October 27, 1998

AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) _ Alan Dickison walked hand-in-hand with two very special mourners to the burial of Barnett Slepian, the physician slain in front of his family by a bullet fired through his kitchen window.

Dickison and his wife, Cindy, came to pay their respects with the couple’s 4-year-old son, Connor, and 2-year-old daughter, Kelsey.

``He brought these two into the world,″ Dickison said. ``He was here for children. This is all he lived for.″

Hundreds of former patients attended the 52-year-old doctor’s funeral Monday, along with colleagues and relatives. There also was a heavy police presence.

The children, Dickison said, are what Slepian should be remembered for, not the abortions that made up a small part of his practice as an obstetrician-gynecologist.

``Dr. Slepian took care of all the women in my family. It was never about abortion,″ said a tearful Marsha Sperduti, who described herself as a friend and patient. Slepian delivered one of her children in an emergency Caesarean section.

``Thank God I’m not having any more children because I don’t think I could have anyone but Bart deliver them,″ she said, crying.

The FBI announced a $100,000 reward on Monday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the sniper who shot Slepian at home Friday.

``We’re not leaving any stone unturned,″ said FBI spokesman Bernard Tolbert. ``We want to get to the bottom of this.″ Police were pursuing tips that included the sighting of a white car in the area, and another car with Canadian license plates, Askey said.

Hours before his death, his wife faxed local police a warning from the National Abortion Federation, a group of abortion providers, warning of possible violence.

Mrs. Slepian did not request police protection and no action was taken, Chief John Askey said. Canadian and American authorities had also issued safety tips to doctors on Tuesday.

Since 1994, there have been five sniper attacks on abortion providers in Canada and upstate New York within weeks of Nov. 11, Veterans Day, known as Remembrance Day in Canada. Before Slepian, no one had been killed.

While American and Canadian authorities acknowledged similarities in the attacks, they would not say whether they had positively linked Slepian’s killing with the earlier shootings.

Slepian’s widow, Lynn, was moved by the community’s support, family attorney Glen Murray said.

``She appreciates the condolences of the friends and entire community who understood that her husband was a physician who felt a duty to use his abilities in the full range of ob-gyn, and that he was unwilling to eliminate from his practice any aspect because of intimidation,″ Murray said.

A letter from President and Mrs. Clinton, read at the private funeral, said: ``Violence in our society hurts all but few have had to endure its effects so personally.″

Mixed with the mourners’ grief was anger.

``It’s outrageous that in the United States of America, somebody can be assassinated for doing what you have a constitutional right to do,″ Mrs. Sperduti said.

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