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First Person in U.S. History to be Executed for Killing an Abortion Provider Scheduled to Die Today

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Paul Hill has been unrepentant for the 1994 killing of Doctor John Britton and his security escort James Barrett, saying “I expect a great reward in heaven.” And a mentally disabled rape victim whose pregnancy led to a debate on whether fetuses may have guardians gives birth. [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript Anti-abortionist Paul Hill is scheduled to be executed today.

Hill was convicted of first-degree murder for the shotgun slayings of Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard, James Barrett outside the Ladies Center in Pensacola, Florida in 1994.

Hill made no attempt to flee the murder scene, did not deny the killings and dropped his appeals, saying he welcomed his date with the death chamber. He has said he would probably kill again in similar circumstances.

Barring a last-minute stay, Hill will be executed by chemical injection at 6:00pm today, becoming the first killer of a doctor who provided abortions to be executed in the United States.

On the eve of his execution yesterday Hill said that his death would make him a martyr and he expected others to follow in his footsteps. He said “More people should act as I acted. You don’t need permission to defend your neighbor.”

Women’s rights advocates fear a wave of reprisal violence by fringe elements of the anti-abortion movement in response to the execution.

In other news, a mentally disabled rape victim whose pregnancy led to a debate on whether fetuses may have guardians has given birth in Orlando, Florida.

The baby, known as Baby Girl S was born by cesarean section on Saturday and placed in temporary custody of the state department of children and families.

The case drew national attention after governor Jeb Bush unsuccessfully asked the courts to appoint a guardian for the fetus, a move that led to a debate over fetal rights.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined on the phone right now by Wyndi Anderson, who is an organizer with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Welcome to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you with us. Can you talk first about this case, the case of Jeb Bush trying to appoint a guardian for the fetus while the developmentally disabled rape victim was pregnant.

WYNDI ANDERSON: Well, this case is a natural progression in the effort to build fetal rights in Florida and in the country. Florida is one of the states that back in the '90s charged Jennifer Johnson with distribution of drugs to a minor for using drugs while she was pregnant. So there's a history in Florida of trying to protect the fetus and establish fetal rights. And this is just what follows out of that effort. I was thinking about this this morning, how we focused on the fetus, and that the rape of the woman has just sort of been a background issue. And once again, this violence against a woman sort of takes a back seat to this idea of fetal rights and trying to protect the fetus from, I guess, seemingly violence, when we have a grown, born woman who has experienced violence, that we haven’t really been taking care of. So I just, I find that ironic. I find it , it’s sort of a trick, I think, in a way to sort of focus on this unborn, our relationship with the unborn, and the hope and all the dreams that we have. Whereas we have a born woman here who really did need—obviously needed—our protection and needed our help and didn’t get it.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the case of Paul Hill and the news conference he held from prison. It’s interesting, first of all, that he was even allowed to do that. I remember years ago when Quayle was running for Vice President and a man who was imprisoned who had alleged he had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle for a period of time wanted to speak to the press. We had tried to interview him as others had. He not only couldn’t talk to reporter on the phone, but he was locked down, let alone able to hold a news conference. And yet Paul Hill yesterday held his news conference in Florida and called for others to follow suit in the killing of abortion providers.

WYNDI ANDERSON: I think the fact that he was allowed to have the news conference was extremely inappropriate. Whoever allowed that news conference and whoever is in charge of that have kind of stuff, I think it’s a dangerous thing that they did.

I also think it follows suit with the sort of fear mongering to keep people in place, especially women and doctors; women’s rights activists who work on the abortion issue and doctors who provide abortions.

Whether you agree with it or not, the reality of the situation with Paul Hill is that abortion is still a legal constitutional right in this country. What he did, murdering born adults, is against the law. He murdered somebody and was sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. I do not agree with the death penalty but those are the facts.

What concerns me more than this is the erosion of a woman’s right to a medical procedure called an abortion. It is still a legal right here in the United States. The way that these people work is that their opportunists that use highly emotional and tragic situations to push their own cause and manipulate people into somehow supporting fetal rights. He’s going to do it through some extreme religious call, making himself a martyr to a group of people who may or may not follow in his footsteps. But the idea that they could possibly follow in his footsteps, that’s frightening. It is frightening.

But we, as people who are fighting and working to maintain a woman’s right to choose an abortion, can’t be scared away from that. We absolutely do have to be cautious. I think the thing that concerns me is the way that fear really does work to silence people.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, our guest, Wyndi Anderson, organizer with National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

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