Florida: execution of pro-life activist who murdered

 Paul Hill, the American anti-abortion campaigner who shot a doctor and his unarmed escort at an abortion clinic in 1994, was executed in Florida last night. A spokesman for Governor Jeb Bush said Hill died in Florida State Prison in Starke, shortly after 6pm local time. Hill received the death sentence for the shotgun killings of Dr John Britton, 69, and James Barrett, 74, at the Ladies Centre in Pensacola, Florida, on 29 July, 1994. A former Presbyterian minister, Hill, 49, was married with three children. Unrepentant to the end, he claimed that the killings were justified because they prevented abortions. He did not appeal against his sentence, and shortly before his execution said he looked forward to dying and expected a "great reward" in heaven for his actions. Supporters of Hill, who hailed him as a hero, and campaigners opposed to the death penalty, including several Catholic religious, held a vigil outside the prison in the hours before the execution. Many expressed concern that Hill's death could make him a martyr and unleash more violence against abortion clinics. Abe Bonowitz, who heads Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said he was very concerned that others might follow Hill's example. Catherine Britton Fairbanks, stepdaughter of the murdered Dr Britton had also called for the death penalty to be lifted. She said: "I've been against the death penalty for a long time. I can't make an exception for Paul Hill. People need to understand that murder is murder regardless of the situation." A Florida Christian Pro Life campaigner told the BBC she was completely opposed to abortion, but found Hill's action indefensible. She said: "This has set back the pro-life movement in America years."

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