It was 17 years ago today when Doctor David Gunn, an abortion provider who worked in several clinics throughout the south, was gunned down by an assassin as he walked into his clinic in Pensacola. The assailant, whose name I will not mention lest I give him the attention he sought, is serving a life term in jail.

Doctor Gunn was the first doctor who was killed for performing abortions and the story made headlines across the country. In the wake of his death, his son, David Gunn, Jr., became a national spokesman for clinics all across the country. He appeared on “The Donohue Show” and had to sit on the stage with one Paul Hill as he told the audience that it was “justifiable homicide” to kill a doctor who was going to “kill babies.” A little over a year later, Paul Hill murdered Doctor Baird Britton and his escort at another clinic in Pensacola.

Through the years, David Jr. maintained his dignity and spoke articulately about the need to protect doctors. Indeed, a short while later, the Congress enacted into law the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), which gave federal protection to clinics. David’s father would have been proud of him.

Years ago, looking to commemorate the memory of Doctor Gunn, pro-choice groups designated March 10 as “Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.” Today, all across the country, advocates of the constitutional right to choose are calling their local clinic to thank the staff people who risk their lives every day to be there for women in need.

If you have a moment today, refer to and look for a clinic near you. Give them a call and tell them “thanks.” It will go a long way.