News Violence

Reproductive Rights Advocates Honor Victims of Colorado Shooting

Jenn Stanley

Events held across the country and on social media called for an end to violent rhetoric surrounding abortion care.

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

Supporters and allies of Planned Parenthood gathered in Washington, D.C., and Colorado on Saturday to pledge their solidarity to the health-care provider.

The national day of solidarity came just over a week after a shooting at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs killed three people. The organization said that the day’s events were meant to honor the victims of the Colorado Springs shooting as well as the 14 killed in San Bernardino, California, last Wednesday.

The Colorado Springs clinic violence was just the latest attack on Planned Parenthood facilities in the wake of a series of smear videos published by an anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which has coordinated with Republican lawmakers in their attacks on Planned Parenthood.

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A social media campaign allowed supporters across the country to participate with the hashtags #solidarity and #StandWithPP. Supporters could also add pink filters to their profile pictures.

“We’ve seen thousands of patients since last Friday, and will see millions this year,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said to an audience in a Colorado church at one of Saturday’s events. “As we say at Planned Parenthood, these doors stay open.”

Violent rhetoric and political attacks have increased against Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the months following the release of the surreptitiously recorded, highly edited CMP videos, which have prompted numerous GOP-led investigations that have turned up no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood.

CBS reported in September that the FBI was tracking nine criminal or suspicious incidents against reproductive health-care providers. The FBI Intelligence Assessment found that these incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement.”

News reports say that accused Colorado Springs shooter, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., told police “no more baby parts,” after his arrest, which many pro-choice advocates link to rhetoric inspired by CMP’s videos.

“One of the lessons of this awful tragedy is that words matter, and hateful rhetoric fuels violence,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement following the Colorado Springs shooting. “It’s not enough to denounce the tragedy without also denouncing the poisonous rhetoric that fueled it. Instead, some politicians are continuing to stoke it, which is unconscionable.”

Meanwhile, a GOP leader in Colorado has said legislators should ramp up investigations of Planned Parenthood following the deadly shooting in early December.

The U.S. Senate voted last week to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood for one year and repeal key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Though the legislation has not yet been to the GOP-controlled House, it passed a different version in October. President Obama said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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