In Wake Of Attack On Planned Parenthood, Conservative Media Hide History Of Violent Rhetoric By Anti-Choice Advocates

Following the November 27 attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood that killed three people and injured several more, right-wing media pundits immediately denied that violent anti-choice rhetoric may have motivated the shooter. However, anti-choice groups have a history of promoting violence to support their cause. After it was reported that the alleged shooter made comments about “no more baby parts” during questioning, right-wing media echoed the repeatedly debunked anti-choice claim that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue, arguing that Planned Parenthood “deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it.”

Accused Planned Parenthood Shooter Makes Anti-Abortion Comments

NBC News: Shooting Suspect “Talked About Politics And Abortion” And Made Comment About "'No More Baby Parts'" During Questioning. On November 28 NBC News reported that Robert Dear, the gunman accused of a deadly shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, was quoted as saying “no more baby parts” during questioning:

The day after a gunman killed three people and shot nine others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office, officials tell NBC News a motive remains unclear, but say the suspect talked about politics and abortion.

Robert Lewis Dear, a North Carolina native who was living in a trailer in Colorado, made statements to police Friday at the scene of the Colorado Springs clinic and in interviews that law enforcement sources described as rantings.

In one statement, made after the suspect was taken in for questioning, Dear said “no more baby parts” in reference to Planned Parenthood, two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case told NBC News. [NBC News, 11/28/15]

Debunked Claim That Planned Parenthood Illegally Sells “Baby Parts” Is Based On A Series Of Misleading And Deceptively Edited Videos

Media Have Repeatedly Debunked Center For Medical Progress Claim That Planned Parenthood Illegally Sells Fetal Tissue. Since July 14, a previously unknown anti-choice group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released eleven videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. The videos purport to show, and the accompanying press releases allege, that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. Scores of media outlets have reported that the combined footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been “grossly [taken] out of context.” Furthermore, a growing list of state investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations have cleared the organization of any wrongdoing. [Media Matters, 8/31/15]

Right-Wing Media Deny That Anti-Choice Rhetoric Could Have Motivated Colorado Shooter, Citing “Baby Parts” Claim To Argue Planned Parenthood “Deserves Much Of The Harsh Criticism Directed Toward It”

Sean Hannity: Anti-Choice Rhetoric Should Not Be Blamed For Shooting Because “Pro-Life By Its Very Name Means You Are Pro-Life.”  During the November 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity denied that “negative, hateful speech” is to blame for the Planned Parenthood shootings in Colorado last Friday, claiming that it would be inappropriate to “blame a lunatic who goes out there on a crime spree” because “pro-life by its very name means you are pro-life” :

SEAN HANNITY:While I was away,of course,we had this horrible shooting at this Planned Parenthood clinic. And if you believe the liberal media,this is all because of conservatives. Negative, hateful speech allowed this to happen. That's what the headline is in the New York Daily News today.

[...]

How do you blame a lunatic who goes out there on a crime spree and blame people that are pro-life for what this lunatic does? Pro-life by its very name means you are pro-life. You don't go around taking the lives of innocent people. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/30/15]

Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “I Have Never Met -- Not Once, A Single Pro-Life Activist Who Is In Favor Of Violence Of Any Sort.”  On the November 30 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Hugh Hewitt Show, host Hugh Hewitt claimed, during an interview with GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX), that he "[has] never met -- not once, a single pro-life activist who is in favor of violence of any sort":

HUGH HEWITT: I have never met -- not once, a single pro-life activist who is in favor of violence of any sort. Have you, Senator Cruz?

TED CRUZ (R-TX): I have not. And I would note that this whole episode has really displayed the ugly underbelly of the media. You know, every time you have violent crime or mass killing, you can almost see the media salivating hoping -- hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies. Now, listen, here's the simple and undeniable fact: the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 11/30/15

Bill O'Reilly: “Planned Parenthood Is In The Baby Body Parts Business, And Deserves Much Of The Harsh Criticism Directed Toward It.” In the November 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly denied that “harsh criticism” of Planned Parenthood played a role in the shooting, citing the repeatedly-debunked claim that Planned Parenthood “is in the baby body parts business” to argue that the organization “deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it” :

BILL O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood is in the baby body parts business, and deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it. The situation is reminiscent of the assassination in 2009 of Dr. George Tiller, a late term abortionist in Kansas. For $5,000 Tiller would terminate any pregnancy for any reason. He was nicknamed “Tiller the Baby Killer” by organizations who objected to his grizzly practice. I reported extensively on Tiller, and after he was assassinated by a named Scott Roeder, some far-left loons blamed me. The Truth is, I reported accurately on Tiller, whose assistant was stripped of her medical license after the assassination. By the way, Roeder was given life in prison, a well-deserved sentence. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/30/15]

But Abortion Opponents Have A History Of Violent Rhetoric, Including Claims That The Shooting Is “The Fault Of Planned Parenthood For Selling The Baby Parts”

Pro-Life Group American Life League: “It's Acceptable To Violently Kill A Baby, So Why Isn't It Acceptable To Violently Kill Other People?”  In a November 30 article for MSNBC, Irin Carmon compiled statements from various anti-choice groups publicly advocating violence, including a comment by American Life League president Judie Brown's comment that “it's acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn't it acceptable to violently kill other people” :

“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it's acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn't it acceptable to violently kill other people?”

“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it's the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it's not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It's the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”

[...]

Scheidler's Pro-Life Action League is among the organizations that publishes the names, faces, and addresses of abortion providers. Asked if such disclosures could make providers feel unsafe, she replied, “We don't pose any threat, we in the mainstream pro-life movement.... If they feel threatened, they can always get out of that business, I suppose. It's not something that would make us back off on our mission.” [MSNBC, 11/30/15]

Anti-Planned Parenthood Activist Troy Newman Calls For “Executing Convicted Murderers, Including Abortionists For Their Crimes In Order To Expunge Bloodguilt From The Land And People.”  Anti-Planned Parenthood activist and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman arguedin his manifesto that it is the responsibility of the United States government to "[execute] convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people." Right Wing Watch reported in a September 14 post:

In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people. Instead, the act of abortion has been elevated to a “God-given right” and the abortionists canonized as saints. Consequently, the entire nation has the blood-red stain of the lives of the innocent upon its head.

[...]

Rejecting that innocent blood is to reject the only standard that is effective against innocent bloodshed, excluding the lawful execution of the murderers, which is commanded by God in Scripture. [Right Wing Watch, 9/14/15]

Newman Claimed The Killer Of An Abortion Doctor Should Have Been Able To Argue The Slaying Was A “Justifiable Defensive Action.”  In 2003, Newman issued a press release defending Paul Jennings Hill, who was executed by lethal injection for murdering abortion doctor John Britton and his clinic escort James Barrett. Newman argued that Hill should have been able to defend himself by classifying the murder as justifiable: 

"Today's scheduled execution of Paul Hill is not justice, but is another example of the judicial tyranny that is gripping our nation. A Florida judge denied Rev. Hill his right to present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day. Our system of justice is based upon 'innocent until proven guilty,' but in Rev. Hill's case, there was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.

“There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law. Paul Hill should have been given the opportunity to defend himself with the defense of his choosing in a court of law. [Operation Rescue West press release, 9/3/03, via Media Matters]

Life Dynamics Published A “Joke” Booklet That Said “Physicians Who Provide Abortion Care Should Be Shot.”  A Life Dynamics booklet distributed to medical students “joke[d]” that “physicians who provide abortion care should be shot, attacked by dogs, and buried in concrete,” according to a NARAL fact-sheet:

A 14-page “joke” booklet was distributed by the anti-choice group Life Dynamics to more than 33,000 medical students. The jokes recommended that physicians who provide abortion care should be shot, attacked by dogs, and buried in concrete. One medical student who received the booklet the same day Dr. Gunn was murdered stated: “It was very upsetting. . . . [T]he jokes all describe ob-gyns who perform abortions as people who should be killed. It's an attempt to discourage people [in medical] training from even thinking about doing abortions.” [NARAL Pro-Choice America, accessed November 2015]