After Shooting, Anti-Choice Rhetoric Denounced for Creating Culture of Hate

Words matter.

That’s what women’s health and reproductive rights advocates are repeating in the wake of Friday’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs that killed three people and left nine others injured.

“How we talk about abortion matters,” wrote columnist Jessica Valenti at the Guardian on Sunday. “We know it, and anti-choice extremists and politicians know it… Do we really think that there are no consequences to claiming that abortion is murder, or that Planned Parenthood is an organization of money-hungry monsters selling baby parts?”

Those consequences, said Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains president and CEO Vicki Cowart immediately after the attack, include the creation of “a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.”

As details trickle out about the man who opened fire on a clinic in Colorado Springs, observers say the specifics of the case matter just as much the context in which they emerged.

The alleged shooter, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear, was arrested Friday after a five-hour standoff at the facility and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. While his motives are still under investigation, law enforcement sources say the suspect told police “no more baby parts” as he was taken into custody—an apparent reference to the anti-choice video smear campaign that began over the summer.

On Saturday, the architect of that campaign—shadowy anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP)—took to social media to condemn “the barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman.” 

But for Ilyse Hogue, president of advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, that censure rang hollow.

“Sorry, David Daleiden,” she wrote online, addressing the CMP founder. “You don’t get to create fake videos and accuse abortion providers of ‘barbaric atrocities against humanity’ one day and act shocked when someone shoots to kill in those same facilities the next.”