On November 27, Robert Lewis Dear, a 57-year-old white man, entered the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic and began shooting. At the end of the day, after killing three people, Dear surrendered and was taken into police custody uninjured, despite the fact that one of his victims was a cop.
Dear’s motives were not initially known; however, this armed attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic takes place in the context of a larger right-wing assault on the family planning and women’s health care provider.
According to Party for Socialism and Liberation Presidential candidate Gloria La Riva, “This extreme right-wing campaign against Planned Parenthood, a major provider of health care for women, was sparked by a dishonest and manipulative video attack on the reproductive rights organization. Actors posing as medical researchers secretly videotaped a conversation with a Planned Parenthood doctor about fetal tissue donation for research purposes. A lengthy discussion was selectively edited down to eight minutes and used to advance the ludicrous claim that Planned Parenthood was involved in selling fetal tissue for profit.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Any fees received by Planned Parenthood for donated fetal tissue are used to cover the additional expenses involved in preserving and transporting the tissue. Fetal tissue research, like abortion itself, is legal. Such research has contributed to lifesaving medical advances.
“However, the extreme right-wing politicians in the House and Senate, and those involved in the Republican presidential primary, have seized on this video and are trying to make political hay of it, with investigations and hearings, and now the threat to shut down the government if funding for Planned Parenthood is continued.”
In the initial aftermath of the hateful video campaign, large right-wing demonstrations took place at many Planned Parenthood clinics. These hate rallies in some cases were followed with acts of terrorism, as in Pullman, Wash., where just days after a rally of 500 outside Planned Parenthood, a firebomb was thrown into the clinic, leading to its temporary closure.
Similarly in Colorado Springs, the Planned Parenthood has long been the target of ongoing small protests, but more recently, in the wake of the video campaign, some 300 people protested outside the clinic. It is not hard to link a hate-filled rally to a hateful shooting spree. After being taken into custody, Dear made the comment, “No more baby parts,” which would appear to reference the attack video campaign and support the idea that Dear was motivated by anti-abortion belief. That Twitter is now full of right-wing, anti-abortion extremists praising Dear’s murderous actions further leads credence to this hypothesis.
Colorado Springs: site of multiple domestic terrorism incidents
Liberation News spoke with Dr. James Tucker in Colorado Springs, publisher of the African American Voice newspaper. “I challenge Mayor John Suthers and Police Chief Pete Carey to call this what it is, white domestic terrorism,” he said.
Dr. Tucker pointed out that Colorado Springs has been the site of more than one incident of white domestic terrorism; a previous incident occurred just a few months ago. The city authorities are well aware of the potential for such terrorism as is evidenced by the security measures in place at City Hall.
The entrenched upholding of white supremacy by law enforcement was also on display in Colorado Springs as Dear was taken into custody unharmed. It is hard to to imagine a Black man similarly armed, who had killed a cop, being taken in alive, let alone uninjured.
As we see the whipping up of a new fascist, anti-Muslim, anti-migrant campaign, it is important to remember that the biggest terrorist danger to people in the United States comes from right-wing, domestic extremists. All progressive people should unite against domestic right-wing terrorism and stand in solidarity with the brave doctors, nurses and other workers at Planned Parenthood who brave these dangers every day to bring needed and legal health care to women.