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Condemned Florida Killer Speaks Out

Aired September 2, 2003 - 20:29   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Another murder case in Florida is attracting national attention. A convicted killer is scheduled for execution tomorrow. And many people wonder whether his death will give the anti-abortion movement a martyr.

ZAHN (voice-over): Down to his final days, Paul Hill remains unrepentant.

PAUL HILL, CONVICTED MURDERER: I'm standing for a principle. I'm willing to die for the principle. I consider it a great honor to die, possibly die, for having defended innocent human beings.

ZAHN: Back in 1994, Hill, a Presbyterian minister, used a shotgun to kill Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard outside a Florida abortion clinic. Hill called it -- quote -- "a justifiable homicide."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Hill's actions saved those babies from being murdered. He stopped the guilty aggressor who was about to attack many innocent victims. In America, this is called justifiable homicide.

ZAHN: But many of the most ardent abortion foes think Hill and others who have committed acts of violence went too far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what we're seeing here, it has done nothing but damage the true pro-life movement. You know, we're having more laws enacted against us because everybody's being painted with the same broad brush.


ZAHN: Advocates on both sides of the debate are now wondering what happens once Paul Hill is executed. Hill himself told reporters today, quote, "the sooner I am executed, the sooner I am going to heaven."

Joining us now from outside the state prison in Stark, Florida, is the Reverend Donald Spitz, an anti-abortion activist, and one of Paul Hill's spiritual advisers. And in Charlotte, North Carolina is the Reverend Flip Benham. He too is an anti-abortion activist, but he disagrees with the premise that the ends justify the means.

Welcome, gentlemen. Good to have both of you with us. Reverend Spitz, I'd love to start with you this evening. I know that you have had close contact with Paul Hill throughout the duration of this controversy. We heard a little bit about what his state of mind is. He has no fear of what he faces tomorrow?

REV. DONALD SPITZ, PAUL HILL'S SPIRITUAL ADVISER: No fear at all. I talked with him today for two hours. He has joy in his heart. He knows he obeyed the Lord God in protecting those babies from being put to death. And the government is executing him for saving the lives of those children.

ZAHN: Reverend Benham, do you think Mr. Hill was obeying his Lord God?

REV. FLIP BENHAM, OPERATION RESCUE: Well, I confronted Paul in April, two months before he killed Mr. Britton and Mr. Barrett (ph), and I beseeched him on behalf of his family and his three children, on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and on behalf of the little baby boys and girls that he was believed that he was saving, to cease and desist from spreading this heresy, because one is not to overcome murder by murdering people. And Paul became the very thing that he hated. And it breaks my heart that he is going to lose his life tonight, but it is required of him. Capital punishment was set up in the Bible to protect human life. As a matter of fact, that was the beginning of all civil government. And so Paul is reaping the consequences. And my prayer for Paul, if you're just look into my eyes, Paul, as I pray that you repent before you meet your maker, and that you receive the forgiveness that only Jesus can give.

ZAHN: Reverend Spitz, though, you say it's not necessary for him to repent?

SPITZ: No, Paul Hill has nothing to repent of. He did what he had to do. He saved those babies. What was the option? The option was to let that baby killing abortionist go into the abortion mill and murder 32 babies.

Now, if Paul Hill did not do that, those 32 babies would be dead. Of course, he did the right thing. I don't know how anybody in their right mind can think he did the wrong thing when those babies are alive, and whereas if he didn't do what he did, those 32 babies would be dead.

ZAHN: Reverend Benham, what about that?

BENHAM: Well, number one, that's not true. The mother could rise up from there and go another place and kill the baby, and surely some of them did. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus is our example. And he didn't come to save us with a Molotov cocktail in one hand and a dagger between his teeth. He came to lay his life down that others might live.

What Paul did was become an enemy of the cross of Christ. He didn't believe that the cross of Christ was powerful enough. And you know, Donald Spitz, that we're winning this battle on the streets, as general moms and dad, grandmas and grandpas and little boys and little girls go out and give moms a real choice. The number of abortions are down almost 40 percent. The numbers of those who do abortions down almost 40 percent. We're thankful for that, and I pray that Paul does really come to terms with his maker, and repents of this heresy, and fellows like you, Donald Spitz, will no longer have a platform from which to spew this terrible theology, because bad theology inevitably leads to wrong behavior. And it did in July of 1994.

ZAHN: Reverend Spitz, before we let you go, we should make it clear that the Presbyterian Church obviously did not agree with Paul Hill's actions. They defrocked him. Are you suggesting this evening that you will promote continuing violence of this kind, to stop abortion, or do you acknowledge what Reverend Benham just said, that the anti-abortion movement has made some gains, and you should be satisfied with that?

SPITZ: Well, I know that every day in this country, 5,000-plus innocent babies are slaughtered. And what will stop it? And now, it's nice that Mr. Benham can stand out with signs. We stand out with signs outside our abortion mill. It's very nice. But those babies on July 29 would have been dead at the end of the day. They would have been murdered by that abortionist. And evidently, Mr. Benham would have preferred that outcome, to have 32 dead babies instead of the dead abortionists.

ZAHN: Reverend Benham, you get the last word.

BENHAM: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Spitz. The heresy you would never have an opportunity to present in any Operation Rescue- sponsored event, or any church in America. The only reason that you have the opportunity to do this is because the media is pouring gasoline on those flames. But Donald Spitz, your mouth will be shut, and so will the mouth of every man. And you need to pray and I am praying for Paul and for his family, that Paul will give his heart to Christ and be covered by the blood of the lamb. That means that he's going to have to repent of murder.

ZAHN: Reverend Benham, Reverend Spitz, thank you for both of your perspectives this evening.


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