Convicted abortion clinic bomber Thomas Eugene Spinks, saying "I did what I felt was necessary before God," was ordered today to serve 15 years in prison and pay almost $55,000 in restitution for his part in a rash of clinic bombings in 1984 and early this year.
The 37-year-old roofing contractor from Bowie stood, Bible in hand, in federal court here as U.S. District Judge Alexander Harvey II imposed the maximum possible sentence under the charges.
Spinks' wife, parents and an aunt looked on from the nearly empty courtroom as Spinks was led away, the last of the three men sentenced in the series of 10 bombings in the Washington area and elsewhere.
Minutes earlier, prosecutor Robert B. Green likened abortion clinic bombings to "terrorist acts," while defense attorney Richard B. Bartos said the attitudes of some leaders in the prochoice movement were similar to those who "created the Holocaust" in Nazi Germany.
Harvey imposed the 15-year prison term after Spinks pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the bombings and attempting to bomb one of the targets, the National Abortion Federation office in Washington. Other charges were dropped in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
"Whatever your religious views may be," Harvey said, "you have no right to . . . take the law into your own hands."
Under normal circumstances, Spinks would be eligible for parole consideration in about five years.
Harvey said Spinks was "clearly the most culpable" of the three defendants since he personally participated in all 10 bombings.
The other defendants received lesser sentences earlier this month. Michael Donald Bray, 33, of Bowie, was ordered to serve 10 years in prison and pay $43,782 in restitution. Kenneth William Shields, 34, of Laurel, drew a two-year sentence.
In arguing for a lighter sentence for Spinks today, Bartos argued that Spinks had cooperated with prosecutors and provided key testimony to convict Bray in a trial last May.
Also, he said, Spinks' action in the bombings was motivated by legitimate moral opposition and "unbearable frustration" in his attempts to stop what he considered to be murder.
Bartos said Spinks "showed respect for life in the very crimes he committed" by casing the abortion clinics ahead of time to determine they were empty, detonating the bombs at night and "using only 90-second fuses." There were no injuries in the 10 bombings, but at two of the sites people were in an office hit by bombs or in adjacent offices.
And in another bombing, 302 windows were blown out in an apartment building across the street from an abortion clinic in Southeast Washington. Federal investigators estimated property damage at more than $1 million.
In the battle of words, both Spinks and Bartos, a Federal Public Defender attorney, invoked scripture and raised the specter of "genocide . . . euthanasia and eugenics" as logical future extensions of abortion in America.
Judge Harvey listened impassively as Spinks said that since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing most abortions, "I saw a nation asleep, a nation that turned its head and looked the other way . . . .
"I see a dangerous progression today," he said. "I fear for America . . . . Is it possible we will end up as Nazi Germany did? . . . . How far removed are we from that place today?"
Harvey brushed aside the comments, saying the 10 bombings had caused both extensive property damage and "personal trauma."
Not only the clinics but also numerous unrelated businesses and residences nearby were heavily damaged and the lives of their occupants disrupted.
"Bombings and arsons in the dead of night without regard to the safety of innocent people," he said, reiterating a statement he made at Bray's sentencing on July 2, "are among the most cowardly and despicable of all criminal acts."