More than two months after terrorist Robert Dear attacked a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, the facility is set to reopen on a limited basis next Monday.
As repairs continue, only about one-third of the building will resume operations. The front entrance was destroyed when SWAT vehicles battered their way through, while suppressive fire peppered the walls with bullet holes as police moved in to surround and arrest Dear.
Law enforcement then took their time meticulously combing the building for evidence, delaying repairs until their investigation was finished.
“We have opened it just as quickly as we possibly could, given the damage the building sustained,” Vicki Cowart, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said Monday. “There was a fair amount of time that passed before we got the building back under our control. It was a couple of weeks at least.”
The clinic will have increased security measures, Planned Parenthood says, including updated emergency protocols and new guard schedules. A full reopening is set for the spring.
Violence against abortion providers is so common that it has forced clinics to adopt stringent safety protocols and build security into their designs. It is noteworthy that all three people Dear murdered were outside the building when they died. Neither of Dear’s civilian victims, Ke’Arre Stewart and Jennifer Markovsky, was present to give or receive an abortion, while Colorado Springs police officer Garrett Swasey was killed responding to the attack.
Meanwhile, staff evacuated patients to other rooms and secured doors to limit Dear’s killing spree.
Ironically, the same factors which limited the carnage then also made it harder for police to arrest Dear, who hunkered down under cover inside the lobby and used it like a defensive bunker while he exchanged fire with police.
Sadly, increased safety measures can also have a negative effect on clinic workers and volunteers. Cowart told the Denver Post that some of the fifteen employees present during the violence are still undecided about returning to a workplace haunted by terrible memories.
In fact, the horrible reality is that from the perspective of abortion opponents, clinic violence works.
After Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in 2009, his clinic, in Wichita, Kan., closed. (A new clinic opened in the same location in 2013, though it offers a narrower range of services.) In Kalispell, Mont., the son of a prominent local abortion opponent destroyed All Families Healthcare, the only abortion provider in the area. It’s gone, too.
Most targeted clinics stay open, but there’s a toll. When I asked abortion providers how the threat of violence had affected the way they provided care, people listed everything from armed security guards and metal detectors to safe rooms and regular emergency drills. Technicians have to decide whether a patient’s elevated blood pressure is caused by a medical condition or from the anxiety of wading through a crowd of protesters shouting, “The doctors aren’t licensed!” and “You’ll die in there!” It can be hard to hire and keep staff when the job description includes feeling threatened every day. As one provider summed it up, “10 to 15 percent of our resources of time, talent and treasure are devoted to compensating for harassment and threats.”
Just like every clinic that has experienced murder or an attempted murder of a provider, the Colorado Springs location had been picketed in strength by forced-birth activists for months. Protesters erected a sign across the street reading “Planned Parenthood sells baby parts,” a clear reference to the hoax videos produced last year by David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress.
Dear, who told police “no more baby parts” when he was arrested and called himself “a warrior for the babies” in court, was clearly inspired by Daleiden’s ‘baby parts for cash’ smear.
This week will also see a renewed series of forced-birth protests at clinic locations under the ’40 Days for Life’ banner.Click here for reuse options!
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