Anti-Abortion Extremist Rudolph Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole
Eric Robert Rudolph was sentenced to two life sentences without parole on Monday for the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama women's health clinic, which killed an off-duty police officer and critically injured a nurse. Judge C. Lynwood also ordered Rudolph to pay restitution to the bombing victims in the amount of $1.2 million. Rudolph will be sentenced next month to two more life terms for bombings in Atlanta, including a lesbian and gay nightclub and the Atlanta Olympic Park in 1996. The Olympic Park bombing killed one person and injured 111 others. Under an agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Rudolph pled guilty to all four bombings and disclosed the location of 250 pounds of explosives he had hidden in a populated area of Western North Carolina in exchange for prosecutors waiving the death penalty.
At the sentencing, victims had the opportunity to address Rudolph, including Birmingham, Alabama clinic nurse Emily Lyons, who underwent 21 operations to treat injuries from the bombing. She told Rudolph at the hearing, “I faced 5 pounds of dynamite and hundreds of nails yet I survived. Do I look afraid? You damaged my body, but you did not create the fear you sought,” reports the Associated Press. While Lyons’ injuries prevent her from returning to work, she has publicly spoken out against clinic violence and has raised money to support abortion clinics.
“We are glad to see closure in the Eric Robert Rudolph case,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “However, we are concerned that law enforcement has never charged any other suspects with aiding Rudolph either in planning or carrying out these bombings or in eluding capture for five years. A drawing of a second possible suspect for the Atlanta clinic was circulated widely at the time but no one was ever charged.” The Army of God, a network of anti-abortion extremists who promote violence against abortion providers and are suspected in clinic bombings and attempted assassinations and the murder of abortion providers, clamed credit for the Atlanta abortion clinic and lesbian nightclub bombings. “Experts now know so much more about terrorist organizations,” Smeal continued. “A lone wolf theory is entirely inconsistent with such knowledge.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation, through its National Clinic Access Project, continues to work with law enforcement, tracks and researches anti-abortion extremists, and pursues litigation strategies to bring violent extremists like Rudolph to justice and end violence against women’s health clinics.