Last week, as Americans all across the country shopped for deals on TVs and other appliances, a different sort of Black Friday was playing out in Colorado Springs. There, Robert Dear walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic and began to open fire.
Dear eventually surrendered after killing three and wounding nine. According to some news sources, after being taken into custody he said, “No more baby parts.”
That could be construed as a direct reference to the anti-abortion rhetoric which has been floating around since September, ever since the second Republican debate. As a recap, this particular debate hosted a discussion on Planned Parenthood and whether or whether not the organization should be defunded.
Ted Cruz started off; saying, “I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. Seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, are these my values?”
It is this sort of language that poisons any hope of a rational debate, as straw man arguments distort actual issues at hand. Later in the debate, Cruz said, “We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principals,” furthering his irrational argument.
Cruz made the issue of funding a nonprofit health organization a battle and an ideological struggle, and possibly one worth killing for.
As if trying to one-up Cruz, Carly Fiorina then delivered the sound bite of the night.
“Anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” Florina said.
Fiorina and Cruz were not willing to let facts get in the way of a good message; never mind the fact that no such videos had ever surfaced. As Trump demonstrated last month with his claim he saw “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims cheering on 9/11, candidates seeing things otherwise absent in the media is apparently a common trend among this crop of candidates.
Is it any wonder that with such a hostile air surrounding Planned Parenthood, someone slightly more unhinged like Dear might feel compelled to take action? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that he was, in part, spurred on by this rally cry for “morality?”
Planned Parenthood is not primarily an abortion center. In fact, abortions make up merely three percent of the overall services provided, which contrasts greatly with their other services such as STD and STI testing—forty-one percent of the total services provided—or Cancer Screening and Prevention—ten percent of total services provided.
These clinics work to provide health care and screenings to men and women who belong to lower classes who might not otherwise be able to afford these procedures, or have sufficient insurance to cover these services. Some groups are seeking to limit the number of clinics nationwide— Mississippi only has one clinic for the entire state—and that is unacceptable.
Planned Parenthood is under attack from both sides; legislators looking to play to their political base by going after what their constituents deem bad, and unhinged wackos like Dear, who feel as if they need to act on the “threat” that is Planned Parenthood.
It is time for us as a nation to have an educated and rational dialogue about this important issue. I only hope we have that conversation before another incident similar to Black Friday’s occurs.
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