Anti-abortion groups have not been slow to condemn the shooting rampage at Colorado Springs’ Planned Parenthood facility, and good for them. If you call your cause pro-life, you shouldn’t support killing in its behalf.
But such condemnations are easy to issue. It’s a lot harder to own up to one’s own possible responsibility.
In this case, the pressing questions have to do with the surreptitious tape recordings of some Planned Parenthood personnel; their publication last summer in truncated, sensationalist form; and their promotion (and in some cases misrepresented) by the pro-life community and Republican politicians as evidence of Planned Parenthood’s nefarious nature. Would the killings have happened but for all this?
Thanks to fine reporting in today’s New York Times, we now know that Robert L. Dear, the man accused of the crime, is a Christian extremist who has expressed admiration for the Army of God, a loosely organized anti-abortion group that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings. From court appearances and further journalistic investigation, we are likely to obtain a clearer picture of what motivated him. I suspect that the tapes will turn out to be relevant.
If so, some in the pro-life community will doubtless place the blame on what was on the tapes: Planned Parenthood brought this upon itself. Others will say, though not publicly, that such assaults are a price worth paying to save unborn lives. Many will simply look away, blaming liberals for tarring everyone opposed to abortion with the same, illegitimate brush.
But if they’re truly pro-life, a little self-reflection is in order. Besides condemning the Colorado Springs rampage, they might also consider directing some criticism at the anti-abortion tactics and rhetoric that have made it just the latest violent attack on providers of a service that remains a woman’s constitutional right.