Editorial: Planned manipulation

Planned Parenthood has had a bad six months.

The release of 11 covert videos by the Center for Medical Progress accusing the abortion provider of illegally profiting from the dismemberment and sale of aborted baby parts resulted not only in demands that the federal government defund the abortion giant but congressional hearings and an investigation.

So when Robert Lewis Dear opened fire Nov. 27 at a Colorado Springs abortion facility and killed three people, it seemed like Planned Parenthood’s bad summer and fall was sliding right into a bad winter. A careful examination of the words of Planned Parenthood and other abortion leaders would indicate, however, that the shootings instead have provided the opportunity for subtle manipulation against the pro-life movement.

In a statement by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Vicki Cowart, president and CEO, said the organization was heartbroken “as we try to make sense of the horrific tragedy ... ” But, while adding that the motives of the gunman remain unknown, Cowart said the organization is concerned “that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients ... is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence.” Other pro-abortion leaders used variations on the same theme, charging defenders of life with the creation of a “toxic environment” and “a culture where some feel it is justifiable to murder doctors.”

“Words matter,” Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards said in an interview. “Folks should think carefully about what they say and how they treat women and women’s ability to access care in America. It’s alarming to see this kind of rhetoric and these kind of smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients continue.”

Considering its source, the manipulation is not surprising. But if such blatantly false cause and effect language is left unchecked, it could have dire consequences. By linking the advocacy of pro-lifers with the actions of a clearly insane gunman, abortion providers create a reality in which, by their logic, abortion should go unchallenged because to speak any differently naturally leads to violence. It is an absurd claim, one that is not only categorically false but one that stifles First Amendment rights.

So what is our response as a people of life? First, we must confidently, unabashedly and clearly assert that the pro-life movement did not create the atmosphere that inspired Dear to murderous action. Standing up for life in no way encourages or opens the door to violence. Anyone who claims to be pro-life strongly and deeply mourns the loss of all life, including the three who died Nov. 27 and the millions upon millions of children lost since the legalization of abortion in 1973. Dear’s actions were those of a madman and are to be fully condemned. The pro-life movement in no way should be silenced.

Second, we must not give into the manipulation of the well-funded abortion giant. How ironic it is for Planned Parenthood, which performs approximately 330,000 abortions a year, to accuse the pro-life community of creating a “toxic environment.” In disguising abortion as “women’s health care,” Planned Parenthood wraps itself in toxicity.

Third, the pro-life community must not back down. The revelations in the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress this year only illuminate further the tragedy of abortion and the twisted effects that it has on its providers. We must remain confident in the teachings of the Church and continue to pray, work and fight for life.

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor