Paul Hill’s Violence Won’t be Missed by the Pro-Life Movement
by Steven Ertelt
September 3, 2003
Starke, FL (LifeNews.com) — Though there is a debate about whether executing convicted murderer Paul Hill is appropriate, pro-life groups and leaders are united on one point: Hill’s avocation of violence won’t be missed.
"Paul Hill is a tragic figure. Nobody rejoices over his death," pro-life attorney Tom Glessner tells LifeNews.com. "However, his violent actions are not what the pro-life movement is all about.
"Ours is a peaceful movement and the violent actions of Paul Hill must be condemned," Glessner added.
Yet, that is not the message found in most media coverage of Hill’s execution.
The Associated Press, Reuters, and other media outlets have failed to include quotes from credible pro-life organizations in their stories about Hill’s execution. Instead, they have quoted a handful of iconoclastic figures who don’t represent any pro-life organization or group of people.
Many staff writers failed to return requests for comments from LifeNews.com, but David Royce of the Associated Press did.
"You are right," Royce replied regarding the need for quotes from credible pro-life groups.
"In all our other stories we have made sure to include mainstream pro-life groups," Royce wrote. "I’m not sure why we didn’t get it in the one you read, or if we had one and it got cut out by the paper where you read it."
However, a survey of more than 20 news web sites that carry AP stories found no examples of quotes from mainstream pro-life organizations in any of the articles regarding Paul Hill.
Royce promised Wednesday’s story concerning the execution would contain a quote from a representative of either Right to Life or the Catholic Conference.
"Once again, national media has demonstrated its overt bias by refusing to present the true philosophy of the pro-life movement — affirming and protecting life rather than taking it," Arizona Right to Life director Shane Wikfors told LifeNews.com.
"Pro-life leaders across the nation stand united in their strong opposition to the actions of Paul Hill and hope and pray that violence surrounding this issue will cease," Wikfors said.
To pro-life groups, Hill’s actions prove he isn’t pro-life and some question Hill’s motivations. Despite his numerous claims that he killed an abortion practitioner in order to highlight the death of unborn children, Hill has admitted he was more interested in gaining a national spotlight.
In March 1993, Hill appeared on the Phil Donahue television show five days after Michael Griffin killed an abortion practitioner. Hill defended Gunn and endorsed abortion violence.
Later, Rev. Michael Schneider, a former pastor of Hill’s, noticed Hill seemed to cherish basking in the publicity. Schneider recently said that motivation drove Hill’s subsequent actions.
"You’re just eating that up," Schneider said he told Hill. "That’s wrong." Hill nodded in agreement. "I need to confess that," Hill told him.
In the end, Hill "never changed his mind," Schneider said.
Following the television appearance, Hill distributed a petition advocating the killing of abortion practitioners. Though he managed to find only 30 people nationwide to sign it, he gained significant notoriety from the document and the media attention he coveted.
Father Frank Pavone tells LifeNews.com that Hill’s actions also were not Biblical.
"Scripture, particularly in the writings of John, teaches that we love one another by laying down our own lives, not by laying down the lives of others," Pavone explains. "If more believers were sacrificing substantial amounts of their own time, skill, and money to defend the unborn peacefully, perhaps people like Paul Hill would not feel the need to fill the void."
Some say Hill ultimately cost his family the most.
One former associate of Hill’s prior to the shooting, who spoke to LifeNews.com on condition of anonymity, expressed concern that Hill would abandon his family in order to go to prison, saying "his actions in this regard were completely irresponsible."
At the time of the shooting, Hill was married and had children ages 9, 6, and 3.
"He seems to have shown no remorse either before or after for how going to jail impacted his kids," the source said. "They lost a father."
Pro-life groups hope the general public will understand that Hill doesn’t represent the tens of millions of pro-life people who oppose violence both inside and outside an abortion facility.
Pat Cartrette, executive director of Right to Life of Jackson, says pro-life people know that it is the role of the government to make abortion illegal and prosecute those who perform illegal abortions.
"Although we realize abortion is the killing of unborn babies, we also realize it is the function of the state to dispense justice in these matters," she said.