A little more than one week ago, anti-choice evangelical, clinic harasser, and domestic abuser Robert Lewis Dear entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and started shooting, ultimately killing three people and injuring nine others. All week,right-wing commentators, politicians, and pundits have been trying to explain the shooting in terms other than domestic terrorism, usually with less-than-convincing results.. Here’s a by-no-means-complete roundup of the response from the right to last week’s shooting, as well as some of the latest news out of Colorado (illustrated this week with gifs of Miss Piggy because she perfectly articulates what we’re all thinking.)
Anti-choicers scrambled last week to disavow the notion that the shooting was domestic terrorism, describing Dear as a lone gunman whose actions could be chalked up to mental instability, not anti-choice hatred spurred on by dishonest rhetoric about Planned Parenthood “selling baby body parts.” (After he was captured, Dear muttered “No more baby body parts” to police by way of explanation for the shooting.)
While the shooting was still going on, Think Progress reported that Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) took the opportunity to slam Planned Parenthood on the House floor, saying Dear “could have had a legitimate disagreement” with the clinic that led him to the shooting spree, and calling Dear “psychotic and crazy” to discount the possibility that his was a terrorist attack. (President Barack Obama and other Democrats expressed their tacit agreement with this point of view by referring to the tragedy in San Bernardino, which involved Muslim suspects, as terrorism while studiously avoiding the same label for the attack in Colorado.)
Esquire reports that Colorado state representative JoAnn Windholz outdid Kinzinger, explicitly blaming Planned Parenthood itself for the shooting. “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS,” Windholz wrote in response to the tragedy.
The American Family Association chimed in too, calling Planned Parenthood worse than ISIS because they “kill babies in far greater numbers” and “in just as barbaric ways”; anti-choice extremist Troy Newman said it was “exactly what [Planned Parenthood has] been hoping for” because the group can now call itself “victims” instead of “victimizers,” and LifeNews popped off a tortured 3,000-word piece explaining, in the words of the title, “Why Pro-Life Advocates Are Not Responsible for the Planned Parenthood Shooting.”
Not wanting to be left out of the blame-shifting game, a US senator from Colorado’s neighbor state Oklahoma, James Lankford, said that since it makes “no rational sense” for a killer to claim he’s pro-life, mental illness must be the culprit and should be the target of any investigation. “So, this is not someone that’s mentally stable in the spot that’s an advocate in the cause – this is someone that has a serious mental issue,” Lanford said on C-SPAN.
And both the head of the House homeland security committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX) and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Eric Schiff (D-CA) agreed, The Hill reports, that the real problem wasn’t anti-choice terrorism or easy access to guns but the fact that we don’t ban gun sales to people with mental illness. In their view, barring gun sales to “the mentally ill”–a category that now includes about half of all Americans–will solve the clinic terrorism problem faster than new laws or restrictions on the sale of deadly weapons.
FOX News couldn’t help chiming in, arguing nonsensically that if only the patients and staff at Planned Parenthood had had guns, no one but Dear would have been killed in the attacks. Never mind that five of those shot, including one of the three people killed, were armed law-enforcement officers.
As Amanda Marcotte at Salon quite sensibly points out, “Apparently, you’re supposed to put on your paper gown, pop your feet in the stirrups and have your gun in hand while your doctor tells you to scoot down a little. Has Mr. Guns Everywhere ever actually fired a gun? It’s hard enough to hit a target with both feet on the ground. I wouldn’t bet on Annie Oakley hitting her mark with her ankles in the air and her back on an examination table.”
Naturally, Senate Republicans decided the week after the Planned Parenthood shooting would be the perfect time to defund Planned Parenthood,, and voted to strip federal funding for HIV tests, cancer screenings, annual exams, and other non-abortion care from next year’s budget. (Under the Hyde Amendment, no federal money can be spent on abortion.) Although President Obama has said he will veto the bill if it gets to his desk, Senate Republicans’ eagerness to pounce on Planned Parenthood even in the immediate wake of a major tragedy at a Planned Parenthood clinic shows how hungry they are to restrict access to health care for women, especially poor women.
Anti-choice Presidential contender Ted Cruz argued that there’s no need to fund comprehensive family planning anyway because condoms (whoops, “rubbers”) exist. When Cruz isn’t falsely claiming that Dear was a “transgendered leftist activist” or touting his endorsement by an anti-choice extremist who called for the “execution” of doctors who perform abortions, he’s apparently buying his birth control from vending machines in public restrooms.
Last week, Cruz now-infamously declared that “there is not a rubber shortage in this country,” and recalled the good old days when he was at Princeton and Harvard, and “We had a machine in the bathroom. You’d put 50 cents in and voila!” As Echidne of the Snakes points out, “condoms are not a female-controlled form of contraception,” nor do most men enjoy wearing them.
Rolling Stone reminds its readers that even as Cruz dismissed the claim that Republicans oppose birth-control access as “made-up nonsense” (because rubbers), he remained a staunch supporter of laws that would severely restrict that access, leading the Congressional crusade to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing a Washington, DC law that barred companies from discriminating against or firing women for using birth control, and celebrated the Hobby Lobby ruling that allowed businesses to deny women access to contraception under the Affordable Care Act.