updated 4/6/2009 4:12:25 PM ET 2009-04-06T20:12:25

A New York appeals court has upheld the life sentence given to a militant abortion opponent who admitted to killing a doctor who performed abortions.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that all of the issues raised by James Kopp on appeal were without merit.

Kopp was sentenced in June 2007 for the sniper-style slaying of Dr. Barnett Slepian in the kitchen of his suburban Buffalo home in 1998. Slepian was a well-known obstetrician-gynecologist who performed abortions at a clinic in Buffalo.

Kopp's lawyers claimed a trial judge erred by barring him from asserting that he was saving children's lives by preventing abortions. The appeals court disagreed.

Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder in 1998 and eventually apologized to his family in a 2007 court appearance. He told the court that his actions didn't constitute premeditated murder because he wanted to injure Slepian, not kill him.

Kopp was affiliated with the anti-abortion group The Lambs of Christ.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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