News Violence

Anti-Choice Leaders’ Response to Colorado Violence Reveals Tension Between Rhetoric and Actions

Jason Salzman

The responses of local anti-choice activists to Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs ran the gamut from support of the gunman to equivocal rejection of violence.

Read more of our articles on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting here.

The responses of local anti-choice activists to Friday’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs ran the gamut from support of the gunman to equivocal rejection of violence.

Police arrested Robert Lewis Dear on Friday after a shooting rampage killed three and injured nine.

“Whatever his motives, I condemn the violent actions of the shooter in Co Springs today,” state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), who once praised a fellow Republican legislator for comparing Planned Parenthood to ISIS, wrote on Facebook. Klingenschmitt once said that “left-wing politicians want [women] to kill their babies.”

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Meanwhile, a former GOP nominee for a seat in the Colorado legislature supported the gunman.

Nate Marshall, who was nominated by Republicans in 2014 for a state house race, but later dropped out, posted an angry response to the shooting on Facebook. Marshall later deleted the comment.

“My comments on the situation in Colorado Springs is simple and this: this guy is a hero,” wrote Marshall, who was found in 2014 to have ties to white supremacy groups. “Children are not being slaughtered and butchered for profit by left wing scum today.”


Marshall declined to explain to Rewire why he removed the comment.

Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason, who is based in Colorado, said in a statement that her organization “opposes all abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people.”

Mason criticized coverage of the tragedy, writing that “the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business.”

Longtime anti-choice activist Leslie Hanks, who helped organize multiple abortion ban initiatives in Colorado, stated in an email to Rewire, “Of course our hearts break for [murdered] Officer [Garrett] Swasey’s family in their devastating loss and all who lost their lives yesterday. We’re comforted knowing he followed and preached Jesus Christ, lover of our souls.”

Swasey was an elder at an evangelical church in Colorado Springs.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who has stepped up attacks on Planned Parenthood in recent months, condemned Friday’s violence in a Facebook post.

“As speculation swirls about a possible motive in today’s shooting, we must remember that senseless violence should never be used to settle differences of conscience or political opinion,” Lamborn wrote. “Please join me in praying for the police officers and civilians who are the victims of this attack. I wish to extend a special thanks to our brave first responders and law enforcement officers for their heroic actions on this difficult day.”

Colorado Right to Life spokesman and Denver talk-radio host Bob Enyart pointed Rewire to a document titled “Abortion Vigilante Worksheet,” which “uses the principles which establish the right of self defense and at the same time condemn vigilantism and the killing of abortionists.” Enyart alleged that violence by pro-choice activists goes unreported.

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