As many of you know, on Friday, November 27, a white man walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and opened fire. He held the police at a standoff for five hours, wounding nine and killing three, including Ke’Arre Stewart, Jennifer Markovsky, and police office Garrett Swasey. Eventually, he was taken into custody, where he issued a rambling, incoherent statement that included the words “no more baby parts.” He will appear in court today.
Like any other mass shooting (of which there have been 351 in 2015 alone), this was a senseless, violent tragedy. It was something that did not need to happen. It was something that an individual – once again, a white male – decided should happen. And it has resulted in the loss of life of people who did nothing wrong, who were at a medical clinic, who were seeking legal services, and who were not suffering from an attack of conscious.
Since the shooting, people have been lobbying for it to be labeled a domestic terrorist act, and indeed several prominent politicians like Mike Huckabee and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have openly called it a terrorist act. Even the Justice Department is reportedly considering labeling it such. They argue that it was a targeted, premeditated attack against the healthcare provider meant to further extreme Christian right politics. So why wouldn’t it be labeled a terrorist act?
I’m moderate enough to withhold judgment on whether or not it’s a terrorist act (I really don’t know the definition of one.), but I absolutely agree that this act of hatred is a direct consequence of people’s polarizing words about Planned Parenthood and the services they provide. Despite the fact that abortion is legal, that no one is ever compelled to get an abortion (in fact, it’s much more likely that you will be compelled not to get an abortion), that people should be allowed to choose what to do with their bodies and their health, and that Planned Parenthood overwhelmingly focuses on pregnancy and STI prevention (rather than abortion), people still see Planned Parenthood as an “abortion mill” and some kind of heinous organization on par with the Tuskegee Experiment. Politicians like Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump routinely promote the fraudulent videos that were issued this year and see Planned Parenthood’s acquiescence that they will no longer take advantage of the legal process of selling fetal tissue as admission of guilt (It’s not. It’s a PR move meant to appease idiots. It will also hinder scientific progress.). Lawmakers allow pro-life protesters to harass the men and women that use Planned Parenthood, shouting at them, throwing things, spitting at them, and harassing them, and numerous Christians applaud the murder of Planned Parenthood staff and users, hypothesizing that the shooter was able to prevents hundreds of abortions. Politicians, religious leaders, and libelous organizations whip everyone into such a frenzy about a perfectly legal, safe, and scrupulous organization that it’s no wonder someone would take a gun or a brick or graffiti to a clinic.
We must take responsibility for what we say, especially if our voice carries further than others’. If you’re against abortions, you need to be factual and honest instead of cobbling together videos, browbeating Planned Parenthood staff, and claiming obviously incorrect statistics are true. You owe it to yourself and your cause to present correct facts and information. Otherwise, you are simply misleading people and manipulating them, and some people are not capable of seeing through your manipulation. Those are the people that can become dangerous and can commit hate crimes and acts of terrorism and, like it or not, those people are your constituents. Do something about them.
* Photo taken from http://www.cagle.com/2015/07/planned-parenthood-videos/