Buffalo Women Services, LLC has a rich and storied history! It was started by a group of physicians and non-physicians in 1983 who wanted to offer quality abortion care to Western New York residents. By the 1990s it was owned by only two of the original group—Marilyn Buckham and Dr. Lawrence Payne. Abortions were provided by Dr. Payne and Dr. Slepian, another Obstetrician/Gynecologist who had his own private Ob/Gyn practice.
Buffalo Women Services was caught up in the anti-choice actions of the 1980s and 1990s. Crowds of self-righteous anti-abortion activists picketed, blocked driveways, chained themselves to doors, verbally assaulted and threatened patients and staff. We endured Operation Rescue, Spring of Life and various other poorly named protests. The protestors engaged in violence and theatric stunts such as parading with a stillborn fetus. The Buffalo Mayor at the time, Jimmy Griffin, actually invited these activists to Buffalo. The protestors never dissuaded patients from making their own decisions and they did not cause the staff or physicians to back away from their duty to provide care. If anything, it strengthened everyone’s resolve!
The facility was forced to move several times due to the disruption the protestors caused other businesses and in 1993, it moved to its current location at 2500 Main Street. Thanks to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entry Act (FACE) signed by President Clinton, the work of legal teams and pro-choice volunteers here in Buffalo, the violent protests became a federal crime and protestors—despite their rhetoric—showed a distinct lack of interest in doing real jail time. We still have protestors, an anemic, all white, largely geriatric group exercising the same First Amendment Right they would deny others. They show up with a deaccessioned statue of the Virgin Mary, pro-Trump signs and a tinny stand up piano but they do not represent a true threat to abortion access. That threat has been transferred to the Supreme Court. We are indeed fortunate to be in New York State, which is a staunchly Pro-Choice state, which recently reinforced abortion rights with the Reproductive Health Act.
Our true tragedy was the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian on October 23, 1998 by an anti-choice activist who bought the “Army of God” line that murdering an abortion provider was justified. Even this hideous injustice—the murder of a loving husband and father of four boys and respected community physician—did not cause Buffalo Women Services to stop offering abortion.
We have remained open, offered abortions every week to those women who have decided it is their best option, added many new services and continue to play an important role in the reproductive lives of Western New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio residents. We are tough, committed and here for you!