Round-Up: Planned Parenthood Attack

Rally to support Planned Parenthood St. Paul, Minnesota on April 6, 2012 Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
By Miriam Zoila Pérez |

As many were enjoying an additional day off last Friday, either with family or friends, social media began buzzing with the news of an active shooter at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

These types of attacks — random acts of violence perpetuated by men with guns, and violent harassment of abortion providers — have become all too common in the United States. To see these two acts collide into one horrific incident where three people lost their lives, and nine others were injured, is horrifying. Below is a round-up of important media coverage and analysis in the aftermath of the shooting.

The National Partnership for Women and Families has an overview of what happened on Friday, details about the victims, measures that have been taken to increase clinic security since Friday, and statements from organizational leaders about the incidents. The New York Times published a long profile of Robert Dear, the assailant in the attacks, which describes domestic violence and religious fervor as part of his history.

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Zoë Carpenter, writing for The Nation, explains that this attack comes during a period of increased clinic violence on the heels of a campaign against Planned Parenthood:

Threats and attacks on abortion providers have spiked dramatically in the four months since an anti-abortion group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress released a series of heavily edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials “selling baby parts.” In September, the FBI noted an increase in cyber attacks and arsons, and warned that it was “likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities.” In October, a Planned Parenthood facility in California was fire-bombed, following three similar incidents in Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington. A clinic in New Hampshire was spray-painted with the word “murderer,” and then, a few weeks later, attacked by an intruder wielding a hatchet.
Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief of RH Reality Check, breaks down why the anti-reproductive rights movement is quick to blame the left for incidents of violence against police, but refuses to make the link between their own increasingly hostile rhetoric and Friday’s incident.

Yet in the wake of Dear’s alleged murderous spree on Friday, the GOP and its anti-choice supporters furiously sought to exculpate themselves from responsibility while still perpetuating the same falsehoods and rhetoric that led to violence in the first place. According to the New York Times, “Cruz, chafing at the suggestion that conservative criticisms of Planned Parenthood might have played a role in the attack at a Colorado clinic on Friday, lashed out on Sunday at the ‘vicious rhetoric on the left, blaming those who are pro-life.’” The vicious rhetoric of the left?

Michelle Goldberg makes similar connections in an article for Slate.

Jen Fang, writing for the Asian American blog Reappropriate, wrote about why it matters that the two civilian victims of the shooting where people of color:

When a domestic terrorist takes the partisan agenda of anti-abortionists to disturbing and violent extremes, we must be saddened and outraged that it was people of colour who lost their lives; but, it might be disingenuous to express surprise. When the Right declares war on clinics like Planned Parenthood, they seek to end health services that specifically serve our communities. When they pass laws that close community health clinics and eliminate access to the life-saving healthcare that we need, it is us — lower-income men and women of colour, not wealthy White men and women — who are disproportionately forced to endure the consequences.

Paula Young Lee wrote about the media biases apparent in the coverage of Friday’s incident at Salon, including characterizations of Dear as a “gentle loner” by the New York Times, and emphasizing the white victim of the shooting heavily while diminishing coverage of the two victims who were people of color.

Finally, writing for Pacific Standard, Francie Diep shares what we’ve learned from three decades of terrorism toward abortion providers:

What stopped the anti-abortion terrorists? In an op-ed in the Washington Post, American culture and political researcher Jon Shields credits the killers’ imprisonment and the scattering of their supporters.
Want to take action? You can sign this Ultraviolet petition asking the Department of Justice to open a domestic terrorism investigation in response to this latest attack.

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