Between pro-choice and pro-life advocates, violence has raged from both sides. These acts of violence further complicates the abortion discussion and precipitates misrepresentation and misunderstanding. Both sides have had individual and groups who have acted violently towards those in opposition to their beliefs whether through bomb threats, street brawls, sign-desecrating etc.
One particularly horrific case has reappeared in the media, involving the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.
In November of 2015, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear entered a Planned Parenthood facility and enacted Christian terrorism. He was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and killed three people, injuring 9 others. He was arrested the day of the incident after surrendering to a standoff with the police. During his crimes, he was reported to have shouted, “I am a warrior for the babies” (CBS Denver 2019).
Recently in December 2019, Mr. Dear was indicted of new charges that were filed after his murder case in state court stalled and was brought to trial after years of being deemed incompetent to stand in trail in a state court due to his mental state (CBS News 2019).
Stories such as that of Dear give pro-choice advocates reasons to be skeptical of anti-abortion proponents. There is valid anger towards Dear for enacting violence among these men and women in that November incident. As a pro-life advocate myself, I too was angered by this crime, but I do not associate true pro-life activism with this act of terrorism.
Some forward that Mr. Dear does not represent pro-life activism despite his anti-abortion intent. Others have disassociated pro-life activism from the christian terrorism enacted by the 57 year old. In one article Mr. Dear is noted for having no history nor affiliation with the Republican Party or pro-life groups or politicians (Domenech 2015). Senator Ted Cruz, a harsh critic of Planned Parenthood called the actions of Mr. Dear unacceptable, horrific and wrong back at the time of the incident (Svitek 2015). Republican Governor Mike Huckabee tweeted on November 29, 2015 that the “Colorado Springs tragedy is domestic terrorism, especially for those us in the pro-life movement.”
The actions of Robert Dear were unjust and tragic and did nothing to advance the pro-life stance. Rather it added to and continues to add animosity to an already heated and divisive issue. His actions run counter to the pro-life cause. Further, I would argue that it was not Mr. Dear’s pro-life beliefs that instigated this crime, but rather a mix of a mental illness and mis-guided religious fervor engendered it.
The pro-life cause must always fight against unjust violence on the innocent and helpless. It must never cease doing so. It also has no place for tolerating violent activism even if they are motivated by anti-abortion intentions. Thus, the true-pro-life stance condemns the acts of Mr. Dear or anything similar. Additionally, pro-life advocates need not apologize for this crime, but must acknowledge the atrocious violence enacted by Mr. Dear.
As the trial begins to take place the coming weeks, it is worth remembering the true horror of the actions of Dear from November 2015: Three lives were taken, and even more lives were directly effected and harmed through personal injuries sustained and the loss of loved ones.
CBS Denver, 2019. CBS Denver. “Robert Dear, Suspect In Planned Parenthood Shooting, To Appear In Court” (December 13). Available at: <https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/12/13/robert-dear-planned-parenthood-court/> (Accessed December 13, 2019).
CBS News, 2019. CBS News. “Planned Parenthood shooter faces federal charges for killing 3 people in Colorado attack” (December 9). <https://www.cbsnews.com/news/planned-parenthood-shooter-federal-charges-colorado-springs-attack-indictment-today-2019-12-09/> (Accessed December 13, 2019).
Domenech B. 2015. The Federalist. “Stop Blaming Pro-Lifers For The Colorado Springs Shooting” (Nov. 30). Available at: <https://thefederalist.com/2015/11/30/stop-blaming-pro-lifers-for-the-colorado-springs-shooting/> (Accessed December 13, 2019).