Anti-abortion extremist Paul Hill, who in 1994 killed a Pensacola, Florida doctor and his volunteer escort, is scheduled to die tonight by lethal injection. Hill, an early proponent of “justifiable homicide” of abortion providers, shot and killed Dr. John Britton, 69, and volunteer escort James Barrett, 74, outside the Pensacola clinic that had previously been the site of Michael Griffin’s murder of Dr. David Gunn. Hill also wounded volunteer escort June Barrett in the attack. In an interview yesterday, Hill said, “I don’t feel any remorse because I think it was a good thing, and instead of being shocked, more people should do what I did. I think more people should act as I acted,” according to the Associated Press.
Abortion rights advocates fear that Hill’s death could make him a martyr and trigger more violence against abortion clinics. Abortion clinics in Florida and across the country are taking extra precautions. “Security’s at a very, very high level,” Carole Ann Steiger, of Planned Parenthood’s Beach Boulevard clinic in Florida, told First Coast News. “It is so important that women have access to reproductive health care, … that they can come to [a] place that is safe and secure.”
Although severe clinic violence is down from its peak in 1994, “our national clinic violence survey reveals that violence is still threatening our nation’s clinics at an intolerable level,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. The most recent survey found that levels of severe violence have slightly increased in the past two years, from 20 percent of clinics experiencing severe violence in 2000 to 23 percent in 2002. FMF’s National Clinic Access Project is the largest of its kind in the US, leading efforts to keep women’s health clinics open in the face of a war of attrition waged by abortion opponents.