Toxic Rhetoric Feeds Violent Attacks on Planned Parenthood Clinics

Posted Dec. 2, 2015

MP3 Interview with Miranda Blue, senior researcher for People for the American Way, conducted by Scott Harris

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Fifty-seven-year-old Robert Lewis Dear is charged with launching a Nov. 27 attack with a semiautomatic rifle on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado that killed three people, including a police officer, and injured nine more. Although the motive for the violence isn't clear, Dear was quoted by investigators as talking about "baby parts" after he was arrested, a likely reference to a campaign by the Center for Medical Progress which released a series of deceptively edited videos that accused Planned Parenthood of harvesting aborted human baby parts and illegally selling fetal tissue to medical researchers for profit.

Although those allegations of illegal conduct have been denied by Planned Parenthood officials and widely debunked, Republican politicians and presidential candidates have cited the videos in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood with a threat to shut down the government if legislation to do so wasn't signed into law. GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has been criticized for spreading misinformation about the videos and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has come under fire for his welcoming an endorsement from a prominent anti-abortion activist who calls for the execution of abortion providers.

Vickie Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said in a statement, "We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust." Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Miranda Blue, senior researcher with the group People for the American Way, who examines the links between the toxic rhetoric of anti-abortion activists and GOP politicians, and violence targeting the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and elsewhere across the country.

Learn more about the pattern of violent attacks targeting Planned Parenthood clinics by visiting People for the American Way at pfaw.org and Right Wing Watch at rightwingwatch.org.

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