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November 9, 2011

Dr. Jack Fainman, a Winnipeg abortion provider,who was shot in the shoulder on Remembrance day, 14 years ago this week, has just published a book  and is speaking out for the first time about this attempted murder.The sniper's bullet missed Fainman's heart by inches, shattering his shoulder and abruptly ending his medical career. The bullet ripped through a back window in Fainman's St Vital home and into his shoulder, where pieces of it are still lodged. 

At the time of the shooting, Fainman was the head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Winnipeg’s Victoria Hospital. He had performed therapeutic abortions but he had also delivered more than 5,000 babies.

Fainman, now age 80, was one of three Canadian physicians, all of whom performed abortions, who was shot in the 1990s.

"I was just watching television and all of a sudden I heard a bang," Fainman told CBC News today.




Winnipeg police  at the time called the sniper-style attacks "terrorism against doctors." At the time of the shooting, Fainman's three adult children publicly urged other health care professionals not to give in to fear, which is what they said the anti-choice want, but rather to continue providing abortion services to women.


An American anti-abortionist, James Kopp, was arrested for a similar attack on Dr. Barnett Slepian in Amherst, New York, in 1998. Although he was a suspect in the Canadian shootings of the three physicians, he was never charged.

In 2003, Kopp received a sentence of 25 years to life for Slepian's death.

In explaining how tiny bits of the bullet are still buried in his shoulder, Fainman told CBC, the nature of the bullet  is such that "as soon as it strikes a hard surface, it fragments."

Fainmans spent more time in his career delivering babies, but today remains as committed  as ever to a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

"I'm a very strict pro-choicer. I think women should absolutely do what they want with their bodies and I just resent other people who want to take this privilege away," he  told CBC.

Fainman has named his book, They Shoot Doctors Don't They: A Memoir, a legacy for his children and he will be launching it with co-author  Roland Penner on Wed  November 16 in the atrium at  McNally Robinson on Grant at 7:00 p.m..

This memoir of Fainman’s life as a doctor begins in Winnipeg’s North End and takes the reader to Chicago where he trained in his specialty and ultimately to the assassination attempt that changed his life forever.

Former Manitoba attorney general Roland Penner wrote the book with Fainman and contributes the legal context governing the abortion issue both then and now. Penner is a recently retired professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law,was Manitoba’s attorney general for seven years, and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.