The Life of Dr. David Gunn

by David Gunn, Jr.

Dr. Gunn was the first, but not the last, casualty in America’s undeclared civil war.

Dr. David Gunn was educated at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and received his M.D. from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gunn completed his residency in OB/GYN in Nashville, where he was named Chief Resident. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Gunn moved to Brewton, Alabama. Dr. Gunn elected to live in a poor, rural community where no other OB/GYN was practicing. Initially a specialist in infertility, Dr. Gunn began performing abortions for the same reason he chose to aid women who were having trouble conceiving: he believed that patients have the right to decide for themselves what services they need.In effect, Dr. Gunn believed that the physician served the patient; he was committed to providing all of his patients’ health care needs without judgment.

Dr. Gunn was a skilled, dedicated physician. Dr. Gunn traveled over 1000 miles a week providing an unpopular service in communities that lacked reliable abortion providers. He practiced medicine in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, seeing patients in Mobile, Fort Walton, Columbus, Pensacola, Montgomery, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Savannah, and Orlando. He drove all of these miles in great physical pain. You see, Dr. Gunn suffered the effects of a childhood bout with polio, which resulted in the limited use of his left leg; however, he did not let his physical pain obstruct his duty as a doctor. Furthermore, Dr. Gunn endured daily picketing, protesters, stalkings, and death threats; all of which caused severe mental stress. In light of all of these obstacles, Dr. Gunn stayed strong and continued to provide women with all of their health care needs.

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The dedication, skill, and care exhibited by Dr. Gunn was repaid to him on March 10, 1993 when a lone assassin, drunk on the vitriolic rhetoric of spite-filled anti-abortion and church leaders, shot him three times in the back as he tried to enter a clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Dr. Gunn was the first, but not the last, casualty in America’s undeclared civil war. For those who do not believe people consider this a war I will simply refer you to the web site of The Creator’s Rights Party (

Since the murder of Dr. Gunn, violence perpetrated by the foes of legal abortion has continued to rise. Although most of the people who are against abortion deem themselves “pro-life”, anti-choice organizations did little more than shake their collective fingers at the actions of Michael Griffin, the murderer of Dr. Gunn. The mantra among these so-called prolife leaders became, “We do not condone Mr. Griffin’s actions, but think of all the unborn children he saved.” This sort of reaction only serves to justify the antagonism which ostracizes and delegitimizes those few doctors who continue to have the courage to provide abortion services. Also, as a result of the lackluster efforts of the leaders to quench the fire of violence spreading in the so-called “pro-life” community, physicians who offer abortion services continue to risk their lives and work under intolerable circumstances.

This article was originally published by Refuse & Resist! some years ago.