Anti-abortion extremists are not 'rescuers' at all

March 14, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

"We don't condone this, but we have to remember that Dr. Gunn has killed thousands and thousands of babies."

So said Rescue America's John Burt after the murder last week of Dr. David Gunn, 47, outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Fla.

Rescue America is an anti-abortion group and John Burt cares passionately for the "unborn."

It's some of the living he doesn't seem to have much use for.

Another anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, distributed a "wanted" poster last year featuring a picture of Dr. Gunn.

The poster said: "WANTED. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO STOP DAVID GUNN." While not directly calling for violence, the poster listed the doctor's schedule so people would know where to find him.

According to police, Michael F. Griffin found and stopped Dr. Gunn last week by pumping three slugs from a .38-caliber handgun into Dr. Gunn's back at point-blank range.

Randall Terry, one-time used car salesman and now director of Operation Rescue, said that Gunn had "murdered" thousands of children.

And we all know what should happen to murderers in this country, don't we? They deserve to die.

This is a column about abortion and not capital punishment, but the two can be linked.

Many want murderers executed in this country. So when an extremist convinces himself that a doctor performing legal abortions is actually a murderer, well, why shouldn't that murderer be executed?

"The fact remains that a number of mothers would have been put at risk today had the abortionist gone to work and over a dozen babies would have died at his hands," said Rescue America's Don Treshman.

So why not just kill the guy if by killing you are "rescuing"? Surely God will forgive you. And some of these extremists believe they have a hot-line to God.

Not all in the anti-abortion movement are like this. Not all are nuts. Not all are barren of compassion.

"When I heard about it [the shooting], my heart just sank," said Jessica Crossed, a volunteer for Feminists for Life. "My family has always been involved in the peace movement, and my pro-life stance is an outgrowth of that experience. My heart goes out to the family of the man who was killed."

Under Ronald Reagan and George Bush, federal law enforcement agencies never seemed to take attacks on abortion clinics very seriously.

And when howling mobs descended on abortion clinics in Wichita, Kan., in 1991, George Bush sent representatives from his Justice Department to that city to support the mobs in court.

Asked in Kennebunkport whether he was encouraging lawlessness, Bush said: "This isn't a matter for the president to be concerned about, especially on his first day of vacation."

George Bush has a lot of time to vacation now, but the damage has been done.

The FBI should have been ordered to infiltrate some anti-abortion groups a long time ago, just like it has infiltrated the Klan and other hate groups.

But could anyone have guessed there would be violence at a Pensacola abortion clinic?


On Christmas Day 1984, abortion foes bombed two doctors' offices and a clinic in Pensacola (one of which had been bombed earlier that year) and four people were later convicted. In March 1986, six protesters were arrested for "damaging equipment and injuring two women" after they stormed into a Pensacola abortion clinic.

And who was one of those arrested? John Burt, leader of last week's protest at the clinic where Dr. Gunn was shot and the person I quoted at the beginning of this column.

According to one press account, Burt says that Bill Clinton's backing of abortion rights has led to the violence.

"When you take away nonviolent protest," Burt said, "there's only one way to go: violence."

I am sure some think the killing of Dr. Gunn will intimidate doctors, will keep women from seeking abortions, and will make other Americans see the light.

But I doubt it.

The extremists in the anti-abortion movement are not rescuers. They are not saviors. They are not decent human beings.

They are terrorists.

And Americans do not like terrorism, foreign or domestic.

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