On March 10, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot in the back and killed as he walked from his car to the clinic where he provided abortion care. He was the first abortion provider murdered by an anti-abortion extremist.

On November 1, 2017, the State of Florida denied Michael Griffin’s request for parole. He can next be considered for parole in 2024. Read Vicki Saporta’s statement on his parole denial.

We submitted this letter to the Parole Commission in advance of the hearing:

We also created a video with more information about the parole hearing:

The Murder

Michael Griffin—a man who had a history of violent behavior and had been indoctrinated into the anti-abortion movement—took the law into his own hands to advance a terrorist agenda. He is an assassin who deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison where he cannot harm anyone else.

On March 10, 1993, Griffin waited outside the back of the clinic for Dr. Gunn to arrive, and shot him three times at point blank range. He then calmly turned himself in to police, saying, “I shot a man back there.” When the other protesters realized what had just happened, they cheered. Protesters outside of other Florida clinics reacted to the news of Dr. Gunn’s death with shouts of “Praise God! One of the baby-killers is dead.”

Griffin’s Influence

Griffin has shown no remorse for his actions. He has been revered as a “hero” by some in the anti-abortion movement, and his crime motivated others to publicly endorse violence against providers and even carry out acts of violence themselves.

Immediately following Dr. Gunn’s murder, Defensive Action, or justifiable homicide petitions, were first circulated among those who agreed that Griffin’s actions were “justifiable.”

The first petition was signed by 34 people and said:

“We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore, he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him.”

One of the petition signers—and Griffin disciple—Paul Hill, called Griffin an “inspiration.” Hill went on to murder another physician who provided abortion care in Florida and his volunteer security escort in 1994, just a few months after Griffin was convicted.

Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon wrote to Griffin calling him the “greatest hero of our time” before she shot Dr. George Tiller in both arms in August 1993.

In December 1994, John Salvi murdered clinic workers Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols at two clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five others were injured in the attacks. Salvi claimed he was inspired partly by Griffin.

Robert Dear who attacked a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs in November 2015, killing three people and injuring nine more, has said that Griffin disciple Paul Hill is “somebody that he thought very highly of.” After he was arrested, Dear told police: “No more baby parts,” which is similar to Griffin who yelled “Don’t kill any more babies” before he shot Dr. Gunn.

Violence Against Providers

Dr. Gunn was the first abortion provider to be assassinated because of his work, and in the years that have followed, 10 more people have been murdered by anti-abortion extremists.

In the years before his murder, Dr. Gunn had been the target of relentless threats and harassment by abortion opponents. His picture, name, address, and work schedule had been circulated on “wanted” style posters throughout the South.

Today, these same tactics are still utilized against abortion providers, and the internet and social networking sites have only expanded the reach and organization of abortion opponents. You can access our latest statistics on violence against abortion providers here.

Michael Griffin committed a heinous crime in the name of “life”—it’s only fitting that he should spend the rest of his behind bars.

In His Own Words

Griffin has been revered as a “hero” by some in the anti-abortion movement, and his crime motivated others to publicly endorse violence against providers and even carry out acts of violence themselves. Hear this terrorist in his own words: