Some Worry Paul Hill’s Execution May Prompt Abortion Violence

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 20, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Some Worry Paul Hill’s Execution May Prompt Abortion Violence

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 20, 2003

Tallahassee, FL ( — His actions set the pro-life movement back years and made pro-life people who believe killing is the wrong answer to a difficult situation look like hypocrites.

Yet, Paul Hill now poses a new problem for the pro-life community: if he is executed it makes him look like a martyr to the handful of people who support abortion-related violence.

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty have written to Gov. Jeb Bush, as they traditionally do in capital-punishment cases, urging him to halt the proceeding. But this time there is a new sense of urgency.

Abraham J. Bonowitz, director of the group, warns that executing Paul Hill over his shooting of an abortion practitioner and his bodyguard in 1994 will make him "look like a hero."

”By helping Paul Hill martyr himself, you will give Hill and his followers a platform to encourage others to copy the crime,” Bonowitz said in a letter to Bush.

The concerns may already be coming true.

Florida authorities are investigating letters sent to three officials concerning the execution. Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist and two corrections department officials received death threat letters that included life bullets enclosed.

Bush has no intention of blocking the execution.

”Gov. Bush doesn’t see any reason to alter the court-imposed sentence in this case,” spokesman Jacob DiPietre told the Miami Herald newspaper.

Hill would be the first person executed following a conviction for shooting an abortion practitioner.

Pro-life groups long ago condemned Hill’s actions and he was never a member or leader of any pro-life organization.

Joe Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League, says no more than a handful of people out of millions of pro-life advocates believe Hill is a hero because of what he did.

"We see the babies as martyrs, but not Paul Hill," Scheidler said.

Lynda Bell, a spokeswoman for Florida Right to Life, says pro-life groups will never follow in Hill’s footsteps.

"All the legitimate pro-life organizations have always been against violence," she said.

Hill’s actions give pro-abortion groups ample opportunity to paint the pro-life community as hypocritical defenders of violence.

Larry Spalding, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, says Paul Hill wants to be a martyr and pro-life people will copycat his actions. "There are crazies in the anti-abortion movement who are susceptible to this type of message, that in order to save the unborn it is necessary to kill doctors."