Agreement On a Divisive Issue

Groups on both sides of the abortion issue have decried the slaying of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a respected doctor who was gunned down at his home in a Buffalo suburb by a sniper late Friday night.

Besides delivering babies, Slepian also performed abortions, and authorities think that's why he was targeted. Instead of cards and flowers at his funeral Monday, Slepian's wife and four children are suggesting contributions in his memory to the Pro Choice Network.

Kate Michelman of the National Abortion Rights Action League called the killing "a tragedy for his family, his colleagues, his friends, but it's a tragedy for the women patients that he served."

She told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras that she knew Slepian and had found him to be "a very wonderful man, a husband, a father of four, a man who never backed down in the face of threats to his life, never stopped doing the services for his patients that they needed."

Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council, which opposes abortions, said "We have come out and unequivocally condemned this action and all other violence connected with abortion. That's why we're pro-life. We believe abortion itself is violent."

Yoest said her group has "gone so far as calling for capital punishment for the people or persons involved in this. This is not the mainstream pro-life movement. We are for changing the hearts and minds of people about abortion."

Michelman referred to the seven people who have been killed and 12 others who have been seriously wounded as a result of anti-abortion violence and said Dr. slepian's murder, coming on the heels of the death of gay student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, "reflects a deeply disturbing and alarming trend of growing intolerance, exclusion, and hatred."

Both women blamed the ratcheting up in the rhetoric about abortion.

"The use of words like calling doctors who perform abortions murderers and killers, and that many of them (abortion protesters) put the pictures of doctors on "Wanted" posters and post them up on telephone poles around the country. It's like drawing a bull's-eye on the doctor's back," Michelman said.

Yoest responded that "The mainstream pro-life movement is working on the legislative front, working with women. We have networks who are taking in women with unwanted pregnancies, working on changing the hearts and minds of the people. That's where the mainstream pro-life is."