Public officials and politicians must accept responsibility for their rhetoric, especially when their words are false.
NOTHING can ever justify one man’s decision to arm himself and attack a health center, killing three innocent people and hurting several others.
Six children lost a parent in last week’s assault at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs, Colo.: Police Officer Garrett Swasey was responding to calls for help; Ke’Arre Stewart and Jennifer Markovsky accompanied patients to the clinic that day.
Now, perhaps more than ever, politicians and those in the public eye must reassess their rhetoric on abortion. Their words have staying power and influence, even when they ring untrue.
The suspect in the Colorado shooting, 57-year-old Robert L. Dear Jr., reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts” after his arrest.
Those loaded words entered the political lexicon after an anti-abortion group calling itself Center for Medical Progress (CMS) released undercover videos last summer claiming that Planned Parenthood harvests and sells fetal tissue from aborted fetuses for profit. Several state investigations, including a review by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, cleared Parent Parenthood affiliates of breaking laws.
Yet those findings have not stopped public figures from continuing to make inflammatory statements. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has accepted the endorsement of CMS board member and Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who previously wrote about executing abortion providers as “convicted murderers.” On Sunday, Cruz condemned the attack before cavalierly suggesting this latest shooting might have been committed by a “transgendered leftist activist.”
Carly Fiorina, another Republican candidate, dared others during a Sept. 16 debate to watch a CMS video purportedly showing a scene inside a Planned Parenthood clinic with “a fully formed fetus on the table … while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ ” PolitiFact found no such video exists.
Planned Parenthood has long been a target of violence, but officials say threats have escalated in recent months. Last September, someone threw a flammable object into a Planned Parenthood health center serving mostly college students in Pullman, making it one of several arson incidents involving clinics nationwide this year.
Let’s remember abortion and fetal-tissue donation are legal. So when politicians use inaccurate, overblown rhetoric to attack Planned Parenthood, they should not be surprised when a madman with a gun decides to attack a clinic.
A New York Times profile of Dear paints a picture of an angry, reclusive man with a history of abusing women and a penchant for spouting anti-abortion rants.
Something snapped and caused him to unleash his fury.
Politicians will continue to say what they want, but the Colorado shooting is a grisly reminder that uninformed, false and vitriolic language in the public space can add fuel to a disturbed person’s need for vengeance and place innocent lives at risk.