Just a few minutes ago, my friend Paul Hill was strapped to a table, and injected with a lethal combination of poisons that ended his life on earth. It was a deliberate killing on the part of the State of Florida.
Paul Hill was a gentle man with a kind face. Not the kind of guy you actually expected to see on the sidewalk in front of the abortion clinic every day they killed babies, calling out to the women and offering help, and calling out to the abortionists to repent from their wickedness and turn to Christ for salvation.
I didn't know him very long. We met in Chicago in April of 1994. It was a big meeting of pro-life leaders that was gathered precisely to address how we would deal with the first killing of an abortionist by Michael Griffin; the killing of David Gunn in Pensacola, Paul Hill's home town.
Paul had circulated a statement called "Defensive Action". For several months he had been trying to get me to sign it. Basically it said, "whatever force is justifiable to use to save a born child is justifiable to use to save an unborn child".
I agreed with the statement. But I did not sign it. It did not seem "wise" to me. Why would I bring the scrutiny of the feds upon me and my family by signing such a document? We had a group called Project Rescue based in Springfield, Massachusetts at the time. We required everyone who was involved in rescues (blocking abortion clinic doorways) to sign a pledge of non-violence. In a sense I wanted to protect the ministry from the firestorm of criticism that was sure to come if I signed such a document.
But I agreed with it. I still do.
Less than four months after that meeting, Paul took a loaded 12 gauge shotgun, and killed the baby-killer John Britton, and his armed bodyguard, as they got out of his truck to walk the few steps to the building, to go in and butcher 32 unborn children. Those children did not die. John Britton did. He never killed another baby. Over 25 abortionists quit the grisly trade as a direct result of Paul's actions as well.
Since that time, I have defended Paul Hill's actions publicly. As a result, the feds have almost continually monitored my phones, and have visited my home. Folks that financially supported our ministry abandoned us.
I remain committed to non-violent direct action to intervene for the babies. But I cannot condemn Paul Hill's actions either by Scripture or by civil law. If we believe that an unborn child is just as much a "person" in God's sight as a born person is, then what Paul Hill did was DEFENSE, not "murder", not "retribution", not "taking the law into his own hands", not "vengeance". Simple defense. Loving your unborn neighbor as you love yourself. Being willing to lay down your life for an "innocent person in danger of loss of life or limb" as our common law describes "Defense of Another".
Paul Hill fell asleep in Jesus a few minutes ago. I pray that the death of God's faithful servant will not be in vain. I pray that those who would choose the lives of the abortionists over the lives of the babies would pause and re-think what their stand really means, in practical terms. I pray that his sacrifice for the most innocent and helpless among us will not have been in vain.
I offer this eulogy because I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I was unwilling to sign his Defensive Action Statement nine years ago. Ashamed that though I have prayed for him and his family regularly since his imprisonment, I have not written to him or visited him. I have been "too busy".
Now he is gone. I did not get to say the things I wanted to say to Paul. I was not even able to get to Florida for the vigil at his execution. But I stand by what I have said for the last nine years:
Paul Hill did a righteous deed.