In November 2015 a lone gunman shot and killed three people outside of the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. One police officer. Two civilians.
At first, the motives of the shooter were claimed to be unknown. Maybe he was just mentally unwell and happened to be in the area. Maybe he was targeting a specific individual at the scene. But the reality of it is that he thought he was protecting life.
The shooter had been mumbling about “baby parts” when he was being detained. Of course, this incident happened right around the time when videos were released claiming to show Planned Parenthood selling infant parts illegally. We cannot deny that there is a connection.
When we so often see groups of men, women, even children posted outside abortion facilities wielding graphic signs and shouting at patients and employees alike. When we see sites like lifenews spreading inaccurate messages about abortion. When we see our own campus plagued by anti-choicers teaching students about “American genocide.” When we are faced with these images and these hateful words, we cannot pretend there is no connection. We cannot be blind to the effects such rhetoric has on those who consume it daily.
The so-called pro-life movement has its share of those who believe the way to end abortion is to shame those who elect to have abortions. To tell people seeking abortions that they are baby killers, murderers, that they are going to hell because they have the blood of innocent children on their hands. They have a hypocritical notion of the importance of life–one that is concerned only with the unborn. Those who are seeking abortions are simply selfish. And the doctors are evil.
Messages of hate have led to countless clinic attacks. Doctors like George Tiller, a late-term abortionist, have been assassinated because of the services they provide.
But anti-choicers claim it is in the name of protection. In the name of god. If one life or a few lives are ended, how many babies are saved?
What they do not seem to acknowledge is the rather simple truth that even if abortion were illegal, it would not end. Before Roe, abortions happened. Self-induced or back-alley abortions. Abortions that killed desperate people who could not afford a child, or who could not mentally or physically care for a child.
Instead, this hateful and damaging misinformation continues to be spread. Online, in books, word of mouth, sermons, marches. It is everywhere.
But it isn’t stopping us. Those of us who educate ourselves and understand the plentiful reasons behind people who choose abortion. Those who realize that no matter what the reason, abortion should be accessible to anyone facing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. Or even a wanted pregnancy (because we understand that part of it too).
So when the clinic in Colorado Springs re-opened this past week, it was done with all this in mind. Because no matter how many doctors are killed, or how many protesters gather on the sidewalk outside clinics, we cannot give up. We owe it to the patients and the doctors and all those who have been fighting against anti-choice violence.