Paul Hill was put to death in Florida last week. The former Presbyterian minister went to meet his Maker with a smile on his face, a lie in his heart and a boatload of twisted logic in his mind.
Hill was convicted of murdering abortionist John Britton and Britton's bodyguard, James Barrett, and of wounding Barrett's wife outside an abortion clinic known as "The Ladies Center" in Pensacola in 1994. His weapon was a 12-gauge shotgun.
Hill believed he was going to heaven for his actions on behalf of the unborn. "I expect a great reward in heaven," he said with a smile on his face in an interview before his death. "I am looking forward to glory."
Hill's statements sound chillingly like Muslim zealots who believe that 72 virgins will satiate their every desire in the afterlife if they will just "kill the infidels." As a pro-life Christian, I am saddened that this man called himself a follower of Christ, let alone a minister of His gospel.
Some have compared Hill's actions to those of a person who had a clear shot at Adolf Hitler - an analogy that warrants close examination.
Hitler and his Nazi henchmen forced millions of people into death camps and systematically exterminated them. As justification for his actions, Paul Hill's defenders would point out that forty million unborn American children were forcibly killed over the last thirty years in abortion mills, and they would be correct. But no one forced those mothers into those abortion clinics. This is still America, not Mainland China.
A shot to the head of Adolf Hitler would have affected the outcome of World War II, possibly even stopping it cold. When he was apprehended minutes after his crimes, he was quoted as saying, "I know one thing: No innocent babies are going to be killed in that clinic today." Probably not, but that does not mean they didn't die at the hands of some other abortionist the next day or a week later. Paul Hill stopped nothing except three beating human hearts.
There is a growing body of evidence that Americans have become more conservative in their views on the abortion issue over the past decade. The loving care of crisis pregnancy center volunteers, combined with frank debates over the issue of partial birth abortion in Congress and in state legislatures across the country, have brought the reality of abortion home to many Americans who had never before equated abortion with the infanticide that it truly is.
A Gallup Poll earlier this year showed that only 23 percent of Americans want abortion to be "legal in all circumstances." Conversely, 19 percent want it "illegal in all circumstances, and 42 percent want it to be "legal only in a few circumstances." Factor in the consistent polling figures that show 85 percent of people want an outright ban on partial birth abortions and it is not hard to see that Americans are not, by any stretch of the imagination, in favor of abortion on demand, which is currently the law of the land.
However, one could make the case that the sad, sick odyssey of Paul Hill may have set the pro-life movement back several years by giving ammunition to the radical pro-abortion left, which would like nothing better than to demonize legitimate protest.
This man is not a hero to the pro-life cause. He is no less a murderer than the extremists who commandeered those airplanes two years ago this week.
Paul Hill did nothing to save unborn babies, and those of us who have fought the pro-life battle peacefully for years - speaking out in our churches, protesting in the public arena, working through the courts and through the legislative process - are ashamed to have him and his ilk associated with our cause and with our God.
Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political
speechwriter and public policy advisor to candidates, elected officials
and organizations at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns
can be read in newspapers across the country, and on selected Internet
web sites, including www.GOPUSA.com,
where he serves as the Nebraska Editor. He also writes for Talon News
Service (www.TalonNews.com). Readers
can e-mail him at email@example.com.