Calling Terrorism What It Is

The attack on Planned Parenthood is domestic terrorism and violence against women.

The Attack On Planned Parenthood Is Domestic Terrorism and Violence Against Women

The week of Thanksgiving is a time for family and giving thanks. Unfortunately, that was not the case in Colorado Springs. On Friday, a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing 3 people and injuring nine others. Though the details on this tragedy are still coming together, we do know that heroic members of law enforcement as well as civilians in the clinic put themselves in harm’s way to ensure that women had access to basic health care.

This attack is part of a worrisome pattern of extremism towards women. We have seen an alarming increase in rhetoric against women’s health in the past few months. It is unmistakable that this rhetoric has created an environment of extremism that feeds domestic terrorism, such as the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.

It is important to note that acts of violence like this are exactly that: domestic terrorism. In the past few weeks, the news cycle has been focused on international terrorism. As a response to the attacks in Paris, we have seen an alarming rise in Islamophobic statements and have heard hateful rhetoric towards Syrian refugees. Despite the fact that the refugee process is the most intense screening process to enter the United States, taking 18 to 24 months on average, politicians have used possible terrorist threats to try to shut the door on these refugee families. Yet, in response to acts like the one last Friday against the Planned Parenthood clinic, we see media outlets calling the shooters terms such as “gentle loner” and politicians attempting to disconnect the shooting from its motivation. Well that is the wrong way to think if you care about our national security and Americans’ safety. The fact is that a person in the United States is seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than by radical Islamic terrorists.

This attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood did not occur in a vacuum. The rhetoric against women has increasingly crossed the line and become dangerous and violent. We know that words matter and that hateful rhetoric against women’s health care fuels violence. And we know that violence against women begets more violence: Research conclusively shows that domestic violence incidents are linked with future violent crimes. In fact, the shooter in Colorado Springs had a history of domestic violence. The violence against women goes beyond last Friday’s tragedy: Anti-abortion activists have murdered health care providers, burned down clinics, and hurt patients like those attacked in Colorado Springs. Last Friday’s shooter allegedly said “no more baby parts,” clearly referencing a series of misleading and heavily edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood. Even in light of all these acts of violence against women, politicians continue to use anti-woman rhetoric. It is outrageous that some politicians are now claiming this tragedy has nothing to do with the toxic environment they helped create.

Planned Parenthood serves millions each year, providing life-saving health care to patients across the country. Approximately one in five women have relied on Planned Parenthood for health care at some point in her lifetime. Despite this attack, Planned Parenthood will keep its doors open, showing that providers of women’s health care won’t back down in the face of violence, extremism, and terror. Their staff will continue to be vigilant and protect patients coming to them for care.

BOTTOM LINE: If the shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood isn’t a form of terrorism, we don’t know what is. While this gunman appeared to have acted alone, the increasingly extreme rhetoric against women’s health care has helped created a violent environment that may have contributed to this tragedy where a mother, a veteran, and a police officer lost their lives. Women have the legal and moral right to safe access to health care. We must stop the hateful rhetoric against women. And we must remember that terrorism from within is a bigger danger than refugee families seeking safety in their escape from ISIS.

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