In the end, Eric Rudolph turned out to be nothing more than a coward. Faced with a possible death sentence for the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic which claimed the life of a policeman, he pleaded guilty. Rudolph was sentenced Monday to two life sentences without parole.
He also pleaded guilty to bombing Atlanta's Olympic Park in 1996, and a gay nightclub and a women's clinic in Atlanta in 1997. Sentencing for the Atlanta terrorist attacks is scheduled for Aug. 22. He is expected to receive two more life sentences.
Two people were killed and 150 injured in the four attacks.
Emily Lyons, a former nurse who nearly died in the 1998 clinic bombing in Birmingham, had it right when she looked Rudolph in the eye and said, "When it was your turn to face death, you weren't so brave again. You want to see a monster, all you have to do is look in the mirror."
There is nothing brave about the kind of terrorism perpetrated by the likes of Rudolph, who not only committed murder and created mayhem in anonymity, but then went into hiding. He was on the run for more than five years in the North Carolina wilderness and employed the survivalist techniques he learned as a soldier. He was captured in 2003 while scavenging for food behind a grocery store.
And yet, Rudolph shamelessly delivered a rambling statement Monday in which he justified the murder of police officer Robert "Sande" Sanderson in the bombing of the New Woman All Women clinic and the injuring of Lyons.
"What they did was participate in the murder of 50 children a week," he said. "Abortion is murder and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."
Unfortunately, that opinion is shared by other opponents of abortion. It explains the deafening silence from Right to Life groups to Rudolph's contention that deadly force against women's clinics -- with its attendant death and destruction -- is justified.
We find it ironic and hypocritical that individuals who rail against abortion, which they view as murder, aren't as vocal when it comes to the taking of all life. This double standard has emboldened the likes of Rudolph.
Law enforcement officials believe that the terrorist received aid, comfort and a safe haven during the years he spent in the Appalachian wilderness. We still don't know who his protectors were, but they need to be identified and brought to justice for harboring a criminal.
While life in prison without parole is justifiable punishment for Rudolph, his being put to death would have been the proper exclamation point for this despicable human being.