Move over, Paul Ross Evans. There’s a new martyr-saint for hardcore pro-lifers to publicly pooh-pooh and privately celebrate: conspiracy nut and serial clinic stalker Scott Roeder, who gunned down Kansas physician George Tiller, the nation’s best-known practitioner of “late-term” abortions, during Sunday services at his Lutheran church in Wichita on May 31. But never fear, Mr. Evans: The justifiable-homicide crowd will not soon forget you. And neither will—neither can—the doctors, nurses, volunteers and patients at Texas abortion clinics.
Two springs ago, Evans, a 27-year-old ex-con and tattoo-parlor worker, deposited a nail bomb in the parking lot of an Austin clinic. Built with materials Evans had picked up at a Lufkin Lowe’s and an Austin Wal-Mart, the bomb was capable of killing anyone within a 100-foot radius. Luckily, it was spotted by the clinic’s business manager and ended up being detonated by a police robot after an evacuation. Credit-card charges at Wal-Mart led the Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force to Evans, who also claimed five previous bombing attempts and had planned a cross-country terror spree on behalf of “life.”
Like Scott Roeder, Evans was hailed by anti-abortion zealots like Donald Spitz of Virginia, who runs the notorious Army of God Web site. “I would have preferred that babykilling abortion mill, the Austin Women’s Health Center, would have been blown off the face of the earth,” Spitz wrote. But even if his efforts came up short, Evans—now serving a 40-year prison sentence—was soon featured, along with well-known murderers like Eric Rudolph and James Kopp, as one of the Army of God’s 14 “Prisoners of Christ,” each with his own tribute section. If you Google “Paul Ross Evans,” the Army of God site is your first result.
Unless you can stomach the specter of digitized dripping blood, images of aborted fetuses and gleeful celebrations of violence against “babykillers,” I can’t recommend that you click the link. But if you’re made of stern stuff, the site can be edifying in a twisted sort of way—particularly if you’re among those who wonder whether anti-abortion violence really adds up to terrorism. Army of God stalwarts like Evans, who is credited with several lengthy essays on the site, make no bones about the fact that terror is the point.
“Although the abortionist and his evil minions slithered away from the bomb unscathed,” Evans writes, “I still consider my effort to bomb the Austin Women’s Health Clinic abortion mill a success. … I felt, and still feel, that if abortion mills and other anti-Christian venues are targeted with enough terrorism, eventually the United States government will abandon its protection of them.”
A more crystal-clear definition of terrorism could hardly be found. The scariest thing, of course, is that it works. Particularly in states like Texas, it’s helped make legal abortions increasingly hard to attain. It’s also silenced both women who’ve had abortions and those who support their right to have done so safely.
“Forty-five million women have had an abortion,” says Terry Sallas-Merritt of the Whole Woman’s Health Clinic in Austin. “Why aren’t all those women talking? Why are they so silent? You see providers silent, too. … The threat and intimidation takes a toll. They want women to feel ashamed and providers to have difficulty providing care.” Make that two crystal-clear definitions of terrorism.