PENSACOLA, FLA., KILLER JAILED BUT ARE WOMEN SAFE? By Sue Davis
* Subj : Fetus Fanatic Jailed, but Are Women Safe?
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
PENSACOLA, FLA., KILLER JAILED BUT ARE WOMEN SAFE?
By Sue Davis
A quick verdict of first-degree murder in the shooting of a
women's clinic doctor has put a right-wing anti-abortion fanatic
behind bars. But the reactionary movement that spawned him is
still at large.
Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back on March 10,
1993, by Michael F. Griffin outside the Pensacola Women's Medical
Services Clinic. Just a year later, on March 6, Griffin was found
guilty of first-degree murder. He won't be eligible for parole
until he serves at least 25 years.
Health-care providers all across the country have been systematically
harassed for the past 15 years--enduring bombings, stalkings and death
threats -- but this was the first time a doctor who provided abortion
services was murdered.
Griffin was found guilty in less than three hours. The jury
didn't buy the defense's argument that he was "brainwashed" by
John Burt and Donald Gratton, local anti-abortion leaders of
Rescue America. Griffin had been bombarded with their
However, Dr. Gunn's son, David Jr., believes there was a
conspiracy to kill his father. "I have always thought Michael
Griffin did not act alone," said Gunn. (New York Times, March 6)
In fact, Burt, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, distributed a
wanted poster with Dr. Gunn's picture on it for many months
before the fatal shooting. And he has a long history of
Burt stalked Dr. Gunn and harassed the clinic where he worked.
Burt was convicted of burglary and assault in 1986 after breaking
into another Pensacola clinic, damaging medical equipment and
roughing up a doctor. He also acted as "spiritual adviser" to
four people convicted of bombing three Pensacola clinics in 1984.
Yet Burt has not been charged as an accessory in Dr. Gunn's
Abortion-rights groups have long suspected links between
anti-abortion violence and Klan tactics. Both use harassment,
threats and intimidation to promote their reactionary ends. Burt
claims to have left the Klan after becoming a born-again
Christian. But he recently said, "Fundamentalist Christians and
those people [the Klan] are pretty close, scary close, fighting
for God and country. Some day we may all be in the trenches
together in the fight against the slaughter of unborn
children[sic]." (New York Times, March 5)
Various anti-abortion groups continued to endorse Griffin's
actions even after the verdict.
However, women's rights groups hope the verdict will make
anti-abortion zealots think twice. Another deterrent could be the
pending Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. If enacted,
that federal law would make it a crime to obstruct access to a
medical facility or otherwise prevent women from obtaining
reproductive health services. Passage is expected soon in the
House, with the Senate vote soon after.
Yet the FACE bill is just legislating what the reproductive
rights movement has already won in the streets. All across the
country, from Buffalo to San Jose, activists have mobilized by
the thousands to keep women's health clinics open and functioning
despite right-wing threats. They will continue to defend the
right to abortion until reproductive freedom is guaranteed for
(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted
if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World,
55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: email@example.com.)