A merciless shooting took place at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO on Friday November 27. Founded in 1886, Colorado Springs, CO is currently home to 445,830 people, 426 religious congregations and one Planned Parenthood center, which due to recent events, has been temporarily closed. Ranked as the 4th most conservative city in the United States in a 2014 study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Springs have a long history of adhering to traditional viewpoints, including anti-gay marriage, anti-gun control, and of course, anti-abortion.
The shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, opened fire on the clinic at 11:30 a.m., engaging in a 5-hour long standoff with the police. Three were killed and nine were injured in the attack. Garrett Swasey, 44, a police officer for the University of Colorado, lost his life while responding to the scene. In addition to Swasey, two other civilians – Jennifer Markovsky, 35, a mother of two, and Ke’Arre M. Steward, 29, a former soldier and Iraq War veteran – were injured. Now in custody, the gunman’s motives are coming to light. Although he has no affiliation with any extremist groups, Dear has begun to portray himself as fervid anti-abortionist. During his questioning, he made the statement “No more baby parts,” and has recently deemed himself a “warrior for the babies” in his courtroom hearing.
The shooting was not Dear’s first run-in with the law. He has had multiple charges filed against him, one of which was a “Peeping Tom” charge filed by his neighbor. In addition, his ex-wife Barbara Mescher Michaux has revealed that Dear had frequently abused her – one time pushing her out of the window of their house – and owned multiple firearms. Extremely socially awkward and known to avoid eye contact, Dear was found living alone in a cabin in the North Carolina Mountains without basic necessities such as electricity and running water. Dear’s only companion was a dog which appeared so underfed and malnourished, that it drove his neighbors to call animal control.
According to shootingtracker.com, there have been 353 mass shootings (and counting) in the United States in 2015 alone. Although the Planned Parenthood murders are not included in this count as less than four people were shot, an attack so brutal freshens perspectives on the already incredibly twisted and complex gun control debate. On December 3, six days after the shooting, two gun control amendments were rejected by the U.S. Senate, 45 to 54, an amendment to prohibit the purchase of firearms by people on the federal terrorism watch list; and 48 to 50, an amendment designed to make background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows more inclusive. Despite this tragedy, which U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch described as, “a crime against women receiving health care services,” very little steps are being taken to end gun violence in America, especially against Planned Parenthood and other safe, legal, abortion clinics.
Despite the lack of momentum to end such issues, the Loomis students are actively working to make a change in the world. Just a few days ago on Tuesday, December 8, and Wednesday, December 9, LC’s Feminism Club organized a bake sale in support of Planned Parenthood. While the organization itself is responsible for helping well over 2.5 million clients for women’s health services, only 3% of the services provided in 2013-2914 were abortions. Their help touches upon on different aspects of health care; as statistics show, 42% were STD/STI testing and treatment, 32% contraception, 9% cancer screening and prevention, and the rest were other women’s health services. However, even with constantly fluctuating statistics, Planned Parenthood’s mission has showed continuity over time: to “provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or residence.”