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Eric Rudolph To Plead Guilty to Abortion Clinic, Olympic Bombings, Will Receive Life in Prison Without Parole

April 11, 2005

Accused abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph has agreed to plead guilty to four bombings, including a 1998 bombing at a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic that killed a police officer and critically injured a nurse, Department of Justice officials announced on Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Plummer/McWhirter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/9). Rudolph, who was about to go on trial for the Birmingham bombing, will also plead guilty to the 1997 bombing at an Atlanta-area abortion clinic, the 1997 bombing of an Atlanta gay and lesbian nightclub that injured five people and the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, which killed one person and injured 111 others (DeWan, New York Times, 4/9). As a result of his plea bargain, in which Rudolph also disclosed the location of 250 pounds of dynamite and a bomb more powerful than the one detonated at Olympic Park, Rudolph will receive four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, the Washington Post reports (Eggen, Washington Post, 4/9). Rudolph, who was captured in North Carolina in May 2003 after a five-year manhunt, faced a possible death sentence if convicted (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/7). Rudolph—who is thought to be a member of an antiabortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic religious group—is scheduled to enter his guilty plea in federal court on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Barry, Los Angeles Times, 4/9).

Reaction

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said, "The many victims of Eric Rudolph's terrorist attacks in Atlanta and Birmingham can rest assured that Rudolph will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The best interests of justice are served by resolution of this case and by the skillful operation that secured the dangerous explosives buried in North Carolina" (Washington Post, 4/9). Kent Alexander, who was the U.S. attorney in Atlanta when the Olympic bombing occurred, said he was surprised by Rudolph's plea but added that the government might have decided to make the deal to avoid executing him and making him a "martyr" among white supremacists and antiabortion advocates, who supported him before and after his capture (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/9). National Abortion Federation President Vicki Saporta on Friday urged federal officials to continue investigating possible accomplices in the bombings. "We're obviously pleased that he's finally admitting responsibility for these crimes," she said, adding, "But we want law enforcement to continue to investigate these networks of extremists because we doubt that he could have evaded capture for five years without help" (Washington Post, 4/9). Rudolph's attorneys did not return calls for comment, according to the Times (New York Times, 4/9).

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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, search the archives, and sign up for E-mail delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/repro. The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2005 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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