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The 30-year-old physician spent the month of October at the Buffalo GYN Womenservices clinic on Main Street, being trained to perform abortions.

After she was chosen as one of five recipients of this year's awards from the Dr. Barnett A. Slepian Memorial Fund, she agreed to be interviewed and have her name published.

But when she met with a reporter, she admitted that she had changed her mind. Colleagues had advised her against having her name published, and she was willing to use only her first name, Jules.

Six years after Slepian was killed in his East Amherst home, some young doctors and medical students still feel intimidated by what they call the terrorists who have targeted doctors who perform abortions.

Yet Jules, a Tennessee native who plans to move to the Rockies to work in a family practice, still plans to perform abortions.

The reason: She sees a critical shortage of doctors willing to provide this procedure as a part of women's total reproductive health care.

"Physicians, particularly, have to be careful," she said. "There have been threats of violence and real violence. People have been murdered. I think it's important to be careful but to continue to provide services."

If she felt concerned enough not to have her full name used, why is she still willing to provide the service when abortion doctors are targeted?

"That's part of the calculations you go through when you decide to provide abortion care," Jules said. "It's the same kind of decision you make if you live in an inner city. Bad people may do bad things. But that doesn't take away the responsibility to help people who need health care."

The young doctor had to think twice about the offer from the clinic where Slepian performed abortions.

"But it was a great place to train," she said. "I think it would be silly to think any place is safe from any anti-abortion violence."

Four medical students from schools in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Oregon also received awards this year from the memorial fund, established in March 1999 by the Pro-Choice Network of Western New York as a permanent tribute to Slepian.

Susan Ward, a member of the memorial fund committee, said she believes Slepian would have been thrilled to see someone like Jules trained in all phases of women's health needs.

"I think he would have done his best to encourage her to provide reproductive health care," Ward added.


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