The sniper killing of Dr. Barnett Slepian in his home in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., reveals, yet again, sinister undercurrents in anti-abortion activism.
Many who protest abortion are people of conscience. They know, instinctively, that their opposition to this procedure cannot justify murdering those whose medical practice includes ending unwanted pregnancies. A few, however, have expunged conscience and consider themselves religious warriors above law - ideological brethren with those who detonate bombs or shoot opponents in other parts of the world.
Their methods are terroristic, whether they pull triggers or send threats and hate mail to doctors. And terrorism is antithetical to both democracy and genuine religious feeling.
Abortion is entrenched as a political issue in this country. It will figure in many congressional races this year, and it will certainly arise in the next presidential contest.
Politicians on both sides of the issue have a civic responsibility forthrightly to condemn such acts as the killing of Dr. Slepian - a man who, by all accounts, was a compassionate physician and loving father.
Views on abortion are often polarized. Closed mindedness, masquerading as moral certainty, often bars real discussion. Yet questions concerning what underlies the demand for abortion, options other than abortion, and legal limits to abortion deserve continued public discussion.
Slepian's murder remains murder. It is taking the law into your own hands, rather than leaving it to the legal process or the courts of public opinion. It stands as deplorable as the bombing in Oklahoma City.