NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, November 28, 2015, 2:04 AM
The National Abortion Federation has attributed an increase in threats against abortion providers to the release of undercover video footage released by the Center for Medical Progess of Planned Parenthood employees discussing rates for body parts from the sale of aborted fetuses.
A series of videos attempting to discredit Planned Parenthood ignited a wave of threats, arson and protests against the medical clinics and culminated in a deadly shooting in Colorado, pro-choice activists believe.
The two manipulated videos released by the Center for Medical Progress show what appears to be Planned Parenthood employees with its Denver facility discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue for science — and being reimbursed for it — increased threats against clinics that both offer abortions and those that do not.
The covert videos captured by undercover pro-life activists accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from abortions. The group stopped accepting reimbursement funds for fetal tissue as a result.
“There has been a direct correlation in the release of these videos and these threats,” National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta told the Daily News hours after a deadly attack killed two civilians and a police officer at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
The attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic killed three people including a police officer.
Threats have targeted a clinic in the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains network that includes the Colorado Springs clinic.
The national advocacy group has catalogued a “gamut” of threats sent to its network of medical clinics in the form of social media posts, phone calls, letters and emails — some calling for vandals to raze Planned Parenthood facilities. The log is handed over to law enforcement.
Clinics in Pullman, Wash., Aurora, Ill., New Orleans, La., and Thousand Oaks, Calif., were the target of arsonists this year, but no arrests have been made. The attack in Colorado Springs took the biggest toll in recent years with three fatalities.
“We were hoping to prevent it,” Saporta said. “They have been targeted by these anti-abortion extremists and unfortunately, it’s not surprising. The hate that these video have ignited have resulted in someone trying to take the law into their own hands.”
Smoke rises from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Wash., during a pre-dawn fire on Sept. 4.
The alleged gunman is in custody and has been identified authorities as 59-year-old Robert Lewis Dear.
“I would expect he was inspired by the magnitude of hate speech on the Internet,” Sapota added.
It’s unclear why the assailant targeted the Colorado Springs facility. Officials with the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains have not speculated to Dear’s motivations or whether he specifically targeted the clinic.
It’s unclear what motivated a shooter to unleash a barrage of gunfire at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, the latest in violence targeting abortion providers.
Eight people have died in violence against abortion providers since 1977, not including Friday’s attacks, according to data collected by the National Abortion Federation.
Dr. George Tiller — A Kansas physician who provided late-term abortions was shot and killed while working as an usher at his Wichita church by Scott Roeder in 2009.
Dr. Barnett Slepian — An abortion provider shot to death by anti-abortion activist James Kopp at his Amherst, N.Y., home in 1998.
Robert Sanderson — The security guard was killed in a bombing at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey was shot and killed after coming under attack at a Planned Parenthood.
Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols — The two receptionists at a Brookline, Mass., clinic were shot to death in 1994 by John Salvi, who took his own life while imprisoned in 1996.
Dr. John Britton and James Barrett— The abortion provider at the Ladies Center in Pensacola, Fla., replaced a doctor killed during a protest. He and a clinic escort, James Barrett, were killed outside the clinic in 1994.
Dr. David Gunn — The abortion provider for the Ladies Center in Pensacola was shot and killed during a protest after being targeted by pro-life activists.
The National Abortion Federation has also tracked 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 182 arsons and more than 1,500 vandalisms targeting clinics in the past 38 years.
The civilians killed in Friday’s attack at the Colorado Springs clinic have not been identified. The rampage also claimed the life of University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police Officer Garrett Swasey.