A Republican lawmaker in Colorado responded to the deadly shooting in her state by blaming Planned Parenthood for provoking violence, writing on Facebook that “the true instigator of this violence” is “Planned Parenthood themselves.”
Many GOP lawmakers were slow to respond to the shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on Friday, offering condolences to the victims’ families or choosing not to comment at all. A few Republicans who responded pointed out their opposition to abortion, but did not go into the shooter’s motive or whether anyone is advocating violence.
Adams County, Colorado State Rep. JoAnn Windholz, however, was not one of them.
“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit,” she wrote on Facebook on Monday in a post that has since been deleted. “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”
In an interview with the Colorado Independent, she added that “Planned Parenthood has no shame. These facts and overall mission of the abortion industry would easily send anyone over the hill who wasn’t rational.”
Robert Lewis Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter, reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts,” after he killed three people at a clinic in Colorado Springs. His former wife told the New York Times that he was politically conservative, owned guns, and opposed abortion, and another source told the newspaper that he “had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing ‘God’s work.’”
Windholz’s statement goes even further than the typical rhetoric that Planned Parenthood has said creates a “toxic environment” that provoked the attack. But Windholz is not the only member of her party to allege that Planned Parenthood’s “murder” of babies is akin to other forms of murder. While most anti-abortion activists do not advocate violence against abortion providers, those who do promote violence cite that same argument to support their calls for violence.
Since the Center for Medical Progress began releasing in July its series of heavily-edited videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue — an unfounded claim — harassment, threats, and attacks against abortion providers and other staff members of abortion clinics have surged dramatically, according to data from the National Abortion Federation.
“We have been quite worried that this increase in threats would lead to a violent attack like we saw” on Friday, Vicki Saporta, the president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, told Mother Jones.
Even before the incident in Colorado, other anti-abortion activists have blamed Planned Parenthood for encouraging violence. In 2013, an anti-abortion activist near Wichita, Kansas alleged that an abortion provider there was “trying to provoke an incident” of gun violence in order to raise money from other reproductive rights supporters around the country. The clinic in question, South Wind Women’s Center, opened in the same building that used to house slain Dr. George Tiller’s former abortion clinic — which ceased operations after Tiller was shot and killed by an abortion opponent in 2009.