Last Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a gunman, Robert L. Dear, opened fire in a Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic, killing three people and injuring at least another nine. After a five hour standoff, Dear surrendered to police, giving up his automatic rifle and several “suspicious items” that he brought into the clinic.
The nine injured (five police officers and four civilian bystanders) are expected to recover shortly. Jennifer Markovsky, there to support a friend, was killed during the assault along with Iraq war veteran Ke’Arre Stewart and police officer Garrett Swasey. The police have not released a motive for this act of violence yet. However, many are pointing to the assault being an attack on PP and its supporters. Dear has been known in the past to support those who attacked other clinics, and most who knew him did agree on his fervent pro-life beliefs. One of his former wives commented that he publically identified as conservative, was extremely religious, owned several guns, and was prone to acts of sudden violence.
Many have condemned Dear’s actions as terrorism, but employees at PP have commented that fierce opposition to the non-profit was nothing new. One woman tweeted through the hashtag #StandWithPP that she has received hundreds of death threats, and on several occasions had the clinic evacuated due to makeshift bombs or inflamed gasoline “poured under the backdoor”. Vicki Cowart, the Colorado regional head of the organization, immediately addressed the situation. “We will adapt. We will square our shoulders and we will go on.” She promised to reopen the clinic as soon as possible. In the days after the initial shooting, some have commented that PP was to blame for the attack by providing abortion services, even going as far to cite the widely debunked videos revealing that PP “sold baby parts.”
Planned Parenthood is infamous for its association with abortion, but in reality only three percent of PP clinics provide the procedure. PP is the nation's largest provider of sex education and assists both women and men when by delivering affordable health care. They also largely specialize in cancer screenings, pap tests, STI testing, and reproductive education. To some, PP is the best option when planning a family.
President Obama released his own statement, stressing the need for gun control in America. “If we truly care about this--if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience--then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.”
Dear appeared in court on Monday and was sentenced to life in prison, with a maximum of the death penalty.