- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

DENVER — Leading pro-choice groups called Wednesday on the Justice Department to investigate “domestic terrorism” at abortion clinics, suggesting that there is a coordinated effort at work incited by Republicans and pro-life advocates.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the deadly shooting last week at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, along with a handful of other incidents this year, was driven by a “network of actors.”

“Even though there is one man who pulled the trigger, there is a network of actors that created the culture of hate and violence that led to it,” Ms. Hogue said on a press call. “As we said, it’s not random. It was fomented by a very intentional campaign to demonize health care providers.”

She and other pro-choice advocates blamed a raft of Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers, along with pro-life groups such as the Center for Medical Progress and Operation Rescue, for their heated criticism of Planned Parenthood.

“For months, presidential candidates like Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have spread heinous lies about Planned Parenthood, sparking a wave of violence against women’s health and abortion clinics,” said Laura Leavitt, manager of the Courage Campaign. “And now, the same anti-choice, anti-women, right-wing extremists who sparked these violent attacks are pretending they had nothing to do with it.”

Republican candidates, along with leading pro-life groups, have denounced the Colorado Springs shooting, which left three dead and nine injured.

Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, called it “unbelievably cold and calculating of the abortion lobby to politicize a tragedy and to try to capitalize on violence perpetrated by a lone and deranged gunman.”

The motives are unknown, but the suspect, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., reportedly uttered “no more baby parts” in an interview with investigators.

His ex-wife, Barbara Mescher Michaux, described Mr. Dear on Tuesday as a violent loner who poured glue into the locks of a Planned Parenthood clinic near their home about 20 years ago.

“For him to plan this and go there, he meant to go there,” she told NBC News in an interview. “There is no doubt in my mind.”

Four groups — NARAL Pro-Choice America, UltraViolet, Courage Campaign and CREDO Action — delivered 300,000 petition signatures to the Justice Department, while UltraViolet previewed an ad slated for release Friday as part of a $50,000 ad buy.

“People are dying, clinics are burning — and only a domestic terrorism investigation can help us find out who is driving this violence,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. “These are more than random acts of violence.”

The pro-choice groups began gathering signatures before Friday’s shooting in Colorado Springs, which left three dead and nine injured, motivated by a half-dozen incidents this year at or near abortion clinics in six states, including vandalism and several suspicious fires.

Others have described the Colorado Springs shooting as an anomaly, arguing that the violent wing of the pro-life movement has been on the decline for more than a decade.

Before Friday, the most recent abortion-related killing was the 2009 shooting of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas.

“The shootings in Colorado Springs give us little reason to suspect that a renewed network of violent radicals is targeting abortion providers as they once did in the 1990s,” Jon A. Shields, a Claremont McKenna College professor, said in a Sunday op-ed in The Washington Post. “And if that is correct, the Colorado Springs shootings may highlight the decline of the violent wing of the right-to-life movement, not its resurgence.”

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