The prolife movement continues to confront the fallout from the shooting last month of an abortionist in front of a Pensacola clinic. Antiabortion demonstrator Michael Griffin has been charged with the murder of David Gunn, a doctor who performed abortions at a new abortion clinic.

On Capitol Hill, Gunn’s murder has been the catalyst for swift action on three major pieces of abortion legislation: the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would create a federal statutory right to abortion; the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which would make it a federal crime to obstruct access to abortion clinics; and the reauthorization of federal funds for family-planning clinics that counsel for abortion. President Clinton has also advocated overturning the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds in performing abortions.

Within weeks of the murder, each of the bills had been advanced by key congressional panels, with the clinic funding bill already clearing the full House of Representatives. Ironically, in the case of FOCA, just a week before the shooting the bill was reportedly stalled amid proabortion and congressional bickering. Marcy Wilder of the National Abortion Rights Action League says, “I think the murder highlighted the need [for abortion legislation] for the entire country [including] Congress.”

Susan Smith, public-policy director for the National Right to Life Committee, accuses the abortion-rights movement of “shamelessly exploiting” Gunn’s murder to further its own interests. “Using this tragic act of violence to promote FOCA is another attempt by proabortion leaders to deflect attention from the radical effects of the bill.”

She admits, however, that the murder has complicated her job of leading ...

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