Robert Lewis Dear, the man accused of a shooting spree in Colorado Springs on November 26 allegedly made statements about President Barack Obama that have alerted the U.S. Secret Service. Dear made the remarks during and after the assault. According to reports on November 29, Secret Service agents interviewed Dear and evaluated his remarks. All the while, the Justice Department is considering domestic terrorism charges against Dear, following his stand-off with police at a Colorado Springs abortion facility. Dear is slated to appear before a court on November 30, and may be accused with the shooting deaths of three persons. Nine others were wounded.
Several news agencies are citing unnamed law enforcement sources as saying that Dear made a number of rambling comments following his apprehension, including a reference to 'baby parts,' which has been taken as a reference to Planned Parenthood’s documented practice of providing tissue from aborted babies to medical researchers.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the shooting a "crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood." In this, Lynch was joined by Vicki Cowart – the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Cowart claims that "eyewitnesses confirm that the man ... was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion." She added, “We've seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months…That environment breeds acts of violence. Americans reject the hatred and vitriol that fueled this tragedy. We do not accept this environment as normal. We should not have to live in a world where accessing health care includes safe rooms and bullet proof glass."
“We’ve experienced so much hateful language, hateful speech, such a negative environment has been created … around the idea of safe and legal abortion,” Cowart said on ABC’s This Week. “And we’ve seen that across the country from all sorts of speakers in the last few months. I can’t believe that this isn’t contributing to some folks, mentally unwell or not, thinking that it’s OK to target Planned Parenthood or to target abortion providers.”
In a press release, Planned Parenthood Federation of America executive vice president Dawn Laguens declared "It is offensive and outrageous that some politicians are now claiming this tragedy has nothing to do with the toxic environment they helped create. Even when the gunman was still inside of our health center, politicians who have long opposed safe and legal abortion were on television pushing their campaign to defund Planned Parenthood and invoking the discredited video smear campaign that reportedly fed this shooter's rage."
Lageuns called out candidates Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz specifically.
Writing at leftist website DailyKos, “Hunter” opined about alleged links of Republicans to domestic terrorism while specifying former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. “Hunter” wrote “With the invocation of "baby parts", there is no question that the shooter was referring to a specific Republican-promoted conspiracy theory directed at the healthcare providers. As the Planned Parenthood statement points out, Republicans were continuing to push those same conspiracy theories on national television as justification for anger against Planned Parenthood even as the gunman was still inside their Colorado Springs clinic.”
Democrats piled on with calls for additional gun controls, while the press continued to identify the weapon used by Dear in the shooting as an “AK-47” rifle.
While Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said he was not aware of any prior threats to the abortion facility, he said "we can speculate" on the motive. "It happened at a Planned Parenthood center," Suthers said. "My suspicions are that has a lot to do with the motive."
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders declared, “While we still do not know the shooter’s motive, what is clear is that Planned Parenthood has been the subject of vicious and unsubstantiated statements attacking an organization that provides critical health care for millions of Americans. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it is doing and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”
President Obama used the event as an opportunity to denounce what he called the “easy accessibility of weapons of war.” He said in a statement, "This is not normal…We can’t let it become normal. 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. Period. Enough is enough."
Enough is enough,” Obama said. “We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting 12 people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.”
In Colorado Springs, Nori Rost - a minister at the Unitarian Universalist All Souls Church – referred to the incident as "domestic terrorism." Nori said, "We're here to honor the work of Planned Parenthood and stand with them in solidarity. We're here to honor the amazing response of the Colorado Springs police and other responders. But we're mainly here to find comfort in each other's company. Together, we can change the world."
Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina responded. “This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message,” she said. “Anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is … this is typical left-wing tactics.”
Donald Trump referred to the alleged shooter as a “maniac,” while fellow Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson called on “both sides” of the abortion debate to cool down their rhetoric.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called the Colorado Springs attack an act of “domestic terrorism.”
“What he did is domestic terrorism, and what he did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement,” Huckabee said on CNN. Speaking on November 29, Huckabee said “We ought to value life. Every life truly does have worth and value.”
Low-cost and no-cost healthcare for women
A frequent claim made by Planned Parenthood and its supporters is that by defunding the organization, which receives over $500 million annually in federal subsidies, women would be deprived of health care. A check of various government websites, Google maps, hospitals and nonprofits reveals a different story.
Within five miles of the center of Colorado Springs, for example, there are at least 34 gynecological physicians who offer medical services to women who are on Medicaid. In addition, there are at least 19 clinics that offer free or low-cost medical services to women in Colorado Springs. By the same token, such free and low-cost medical services are available elsewhere in the country at providers where the the primary service offered is not abortion.
Healthcare centers for women:
Mission Medical Clinical Services
Northern Churches Care of Colorado Springs
Open Bible Medical Clinic
Clinic at St. Francis
Hanifen Self-Sufficiency Center
Peak Vista - Health Center at International Circle
Peak Vista - Moreno Health Center
Peak Vista Community Health Centers - Women’s Health Center
Peak Vista Homeless Health Center