By Scott Tibbs, August 31, 2003
It appears that a Presbyterian "minister" will be the first person executed for anti-abortion violence next week. Paul Hill was convicted of murder after the 1994 shootings of an abortionist and his escort near a Florida abortion clinic.
I believe that abortion is the willful, intentional killing of an innocent human life. I believe abortion must be criminalized, and I support any legislative effort to do so. Over 42 million lives have been terminated by surgical abortion since 1973, a figure that dwarfs even the Nazi Holocaust. With 1.2 million abortions a year, an average of 3,200 babies are dying every day.
Hill and others believe that violence is justified to stop the bloodshed. But abortion is (sadly) a legal procedure. Violence will not stop abortion. Killing an abortionist may postpone an abortion, but it will do little to stop the killing overall. Another abortionist will take his place or the abortion will be rescheduled somewhere else.
Violence also discredits and marginalizes the pro-life movement. When am act of anti-abortion violence takes place, all pro-lifers are scrutinized and the general population becomes concerned about this "fringe". Violent acts by anti-abortion extremists have led to legislation that makes legal and peaceful pro-life activism more difficult.
Anti-abortion violence also often targets people who do not actually perform abortions. Clinic staff workers, police officers and others have been killed by bombings and shootings. Even if one were to take the position that such violence is justified, it is impossible to credibly argue that such indiscriminate killing is acceptable.
Anti-abortion violence is terrorism. Killing in the name of a cause puts these extremists in the same category as the Earth Liberation Front or Hamas. On September 11, 2001, Americans were jolted into a realization of just how destructive and evil terrorism is. No "pro-life" individual should ever endorse or condone terrorism.
Most importantly, more violence is not the answer to the violence of abortion. Killing abortionists merely perpetuates the cycle of violence. The pro-life movement must be devoted to working against the culture of death. The pro-life movement is based on the foundational principle that all human life is sacred. Killing in the name of protecting life betrays that principle. Many pro-life organizations have recognized that fact, releasing a Pro-life proclamation against violence.
Pro-lifers have made strides in reducing the number of abortions performed annually. We have made gains in the hearts and minds of the American people. I believe that we can see abortion criminalized in my lifetime. But in working toward that goal, pro-lifers must work in a nonviolent manner that respects all human life.