Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kresta Commentary: Leading Abortionist Murdered

Leading Abortionist Murdered
May 31, 2009
Al Kresta

Years ago, I debated the defrocked and excommunicated Presbyterian pastor Paul Hill (1954-2003) over the question of whether or not killing abortionists was justifiable homicide. In short, I argued “Absolutely not.” He argued that he was obligated to protect the unborn by killing their murderers and thus preventing further abortions.

Paul Hill wasn’t insane or even “mean.” Rather he was in the grip of an abbreviated logic. He reasoned that since abortionists kill children then by killing abortionists we will save children.

As a moral theologian and pastor, Hill was wrong and convinced almost nobody. When it was clear that pro-life people dismissed his argument as grossly inconsistent with the moral law, he went out and killed an abortionist and his escort and wounded the abortionist’s wife. Paul Hill was arrested, convicted and, in September 2003, executed for their murder. He never publicly repented and perished in his folly imagining himself a martyr and leader: “While most Christians firmly profess the duty to defend born children with force…most of these professors have neglected the duty to similarly defend the unborn…I was certain that if I took my stand at this point, others would join with me, and the Lord would eventually bring about a great victory.” As an activist and prophet, he was also dead wrong.

He failed to see two obvious truths:
- There are many non-violent ways to stop abortions.
- Every act of abortion has multiple accomplices. Each accomplice bears differing degrees of culpability. Why should Hill’s logic stop at the abortionist and not with others who make his work possible including local law enforcement that protects clinics?

How about the one person most obviously standing between the abortionist and the preborn: the mother. Mothers call for abortions. Tiller provided them a service for a fee. As long as mothers want to get rid of a pregnancy, there will be abortions. As long as men want sex without relationships, there will be prostitutes. Both advocates for abortion and prostitution are willing to take the cash and call it empowerment for women. This doesn’t mean the law should permit either abortion or prostitution. It does recognize that we won’t get rid of depersonalized sex by killing prostitutes and we won’t end abortion by eliminating abortionists.

Absurdity as well as tragedy stain his position. Yes, abortion is a form of child-murder. But it is murder carried out with the consent of the mother uninformed as she may be. Hill, to be consistent, should have advocated the use of proportionate force to stop abortions. Following his twisted logic, he should have forcibly stopped mothers from entering clinics and, when persuasion finally failed, anesthetized her and removed the innocent child by C-section. After all, isn’t this a more justifiable use of force? Nobody gets killed. Of course, this is morally repulsive.

Killing abortionists doesn’t save lives. It takes lives. It is murder. It usurps the authority of the state by pretending to mete out justice to evildoers. It is vigilantism and diminishes respect for the rule of law.

If the moral arguments aren’t clear then the public relations argument should be. While the law needn’t permit mothers to kill their children, neither is the law enough to make mothers want to avoid abortion. For that, it is necessary to turn the heart of the mother toward her child. Paul Hill turned hearts in the wrong direction. He created unnecessary sympathy for the pro-abortion regime.

In all likelihood Tiller’s killer has not prevented the death of children. More likely, he has further hardened America’s heart against the unborn (who people can’t see) by generating sympathy for abortionists (who people can see). His act distorts the truth because it shows blood on the wrong hands. Good heavens, he was shot to death ushering in his church. Absurd.

As Fr. Pavone has written: “At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post- abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment.” I agree. Regardless of motive, however, Tiller’s death is an unjustifiable act of murder. His widow is bereft. His soul needs our prayers for the mercy he thought he was showing mothers but denying to their children. Tiller had mugs inscribed with the motto: “Trust women.” As an active churchgoer, it should have been “Trust God.”


  1. Dear Al,

    Thank you. I respect and admire you. The way in which you speak and write about our world makes me so grateful to have daily access to you.

    Are you worried about the pro life back lash? Can you speak to that today on your program?

    Thank You,
    In Christ
    Hope Mahon

  2. What a horrible tragedy. Although I don't wish to demean it, I have to ask a moral question. If I saw someone attempting to murder someone and I had had the means I would do whatever I deemed necessary, including kill, to stop the offender and protect the soon-to-be victim. Suppose this was pro-life activist gone wrong. And instead of killing Dr. Tiller on a Sunday at church, what if the activist killed him just before he was about to perform an abortion? If the unborn is really a human being, wouldn't this scenario's killing be justified in saving an innocent human life?

  3. Fred in New YorkJune 1, 2009 at 6:56 PM

    I only heard about half the show today. There seemed to be a lot of sympathy for Tiller's family. I want to second the thoughts of one caller that mentioned, in essence, that they are the beneficiaries of "ill gotten gains." His family participates in the evil through financial benefit.

  4. How does humanity’s rationale go about fielding this same question of morality in terms of the lesser numbers of death the abortions are the mass murderers of war, such the Hitlers’ committing genocide upon humanity, the Hiroshima bombing’s intent to end a war, the United Nations failure to immediately stop Rwanda’s genocide until millions were annihilated, where authorities assassinate a random murder who otherwise continues gunning down high school students and teachers, or irate postal workers, or murdering bank robbers?

    Yet by comparison, the immensely greater number of innocent lives lost to the continued abortions growing into untold never ending millions, in what seems to have all the earmarks of war, where humanity and science seek out and destroying what is perceived as their enemy, though this enemy is innocent and can not defend itself in all actuality what is a war hidden in plain site under the guise of legal license to not call it murder by not identifying the enemy with life, doing so without any moral foundation. Where now with the self deceptive illusion of entitlements and rights confused by the misdirection of refusing to identify the true enemy, being what is found in the disobedience to The Ten Commandments, Constitutional Law, all with what was a lost innocence that grew from immoral life styles, culture that hijacking the intent of existing laws, least which is not the disobedience to God, but rather by re-identifying who he is in an attempt to lessen the Big Ten.

    Maybe in this context, the question might best be directed to how can one hope to go about proactively seeking justice while stalemated by the immorality of those who do not seek God’s justice. Of course prayerfully, knowing the road is narrow and hard to find, and sadly few will; so we must at least wholeheartedly attempt to procure their salvation. Though here I hesitate to say, even at the cost of our own lives!

    Unless more people become proactive, as well as our churches in this war against innocent life, it seems soon once again side walk councilors will be forbidden access to these clinics and the killings will continue with what seems an impunity that allows for more because there appears to be no apparent consequences, nor is there anything humanity can’t resolve through their giving it legal sanction by any means they desire.

    Will close with this realization, I’ve known a few different people who their father wanted them aborted and their mother didn’t, they are grown and thrilled to be alive. I also know a few people who were given up for adoption because their mother was raped, some others whose mothers consented while out of wedlock and raised them as a single parent, and a few whose mother’s consented but were under aged; all these people grew up and are also thrilled to be alive. Has anyone ever asked someone who under any of these conditions used by so may to justify abortions, if they unhappy to be alive and wished rather to have been aborted?

  5. Fred in New YorkJune 3, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    "In all likelihood Tiller’s killer has not prevented the death of children."

    I heard that he was only one of three doctors in the country that did the late term procedure. If that is true, the added difficulty in getting a late term abortion might give some of the mothers more time to consider the matter.

    Frankly all this worry about the backlash worries me. What happened? An unrepentant murderer, someone that vowed to kill again and again, got killed. I'm more concerned by the killing of innocent life.