The frustration has reached a boiling point and the inevitable has happened. Another abortionist has been shot dead in Pensacola, Florida.
On July 29, Paul Hill joined Michael Griffen on the list of activists who went too far. Hill fired shots into the car of abortionist John Bayard Britton, killing him and his bodyguard.
As governments continue to crack down on peaceful and legitimate activism, it is not surprising that some have resorted to violence. As Judie Brown reports on the front page of this issue, U.S. legislators have imposed unusually strict penalties on pro-lifers. Both in Canada and the U.S., the courts have cast a legal chill over many sorts of activism.
Those who inspired pro-life activism (Operation Rescue, picketing, sidewalk counseling, etc.) never preached violence. Motivated by Christ and Scripture, they followed the examples of Ghandi and Martin Luther King and countered abortion with peaceful, civil disobedience.
Violence has always been a temptation for any movement. It can seem like a quick fix to a fight which one is not winning. Abortionists Gunn and Britton are gone, no longer practicing their trade, casualties in the all-out war on the unborn. The issue is once again in the spotlight and other abortionists might be scared from the trade.
But violence fixes nothing. Though Gunn and Britton will not be around, the pro-abortionists will make sure that every woman in the area will have their abortions. The dead abortionists will be memorialized as men who sacrificed their lives for women’s rights. Local and federal officials will tighten security, closely monitor pro-life activity and impose even costlier fines. The issue is again in the news, but pro-lifers are cast in such bad light that mush of the good work of Operation Rescue, the Lambs of Christ, and the sidewalk counselors has been undone, not only in Pensacola but in the whole of North America.
The hypocrisy of such violence is terribly evident. Pro-lifers have always been motivated by the fact that the unborn are human beings and the killing of them is wrong. Like it or not, abortionists are also human beings. Anyone who believes that killing unborn babies is wrong but that the vigilante-style killing of abortionists is acceptable, is not pro-life.
The movement must distance itself from Hill’s action. Nothing good has come from his actions, and the long term results might prove disastrous. In the meantime, we must pray, not only for Hill’s tormented soul, but also for the souls of the abortionists who were never given a chance to repent and convert.
In a macabre way the whole movement can learn a lesson from this murder. Perhaps Paul Hill acted out of desperation, felt impelled to take matters into his own hands. To prevent a future recurrence, Christians who have otherwise remained silent about abortion must stand up and make themselves heard.
A determined but peaceful front speaks much louder than one man with a gun.