|Graphic via Life Matters Journal
You already know that on Friday, a gunman killed three people and injured nine others while firing shots from a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood abortion center.
None of this is particularly surprising; mass shooters are rarely the picture of mental health. But what everyone wants to know is: was this about abortion? And if so, should the pro-life movement be blamed?
The “no more baby parts” comment, if accurate, is probably a reference to the undercover videos released over the summer which showed Planned Parenthood officials callously discussing the harvesting of abortion victims’ organs for research. That’s a strong indication that abortion motivated Dear. And yet Dear’s victims had no apparent connection to Planned Parenthood. In fact, Officer Swasey was pro-life, and already being lauded by the pro-life community as a hero (as he should be).
So now what?
I’ve seen two reactions dominate the pro-life community. The first is horror and sorrow, just as any sane person would react to any mass shooting. The second is condemnation, and anger that this could have been done in our name. As one commenter on our facebook page put it: “I’m finding myself empathizing with Muslims at this moment… Feeling like I need to make some kind of comment or statement defending the pro-life movement because of this even though some deranged shooter has nothing to do with being pro-life.” The analogy is an apt one. 44% of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, and popular pro-life policies—like banning abortion after the first trimester and requiring informed consent—command solid majorities. We’re easily talking about over 150 million people that are all being painted with the same brush.
But getting defensive is the wrong response. If it’s true that Dear was motivated by our criticism of Planned Parenthood, that would mean that he somehow got the first half of our message—Abortion is wrong—but not the critical second half, the why—because life is precious. That should concern us. Not because Dear was “one of ours,” not because the media wants to guilt us, not because Planned Parenthood is fundraising off of it, not because vigilantism hasn’t tarnished any other causes (it certainly has), but because one of our central goals is to effectively educate people about the value of human life. We obviously failed on that count when it came to Robert Dear.
It is in times like these that I wish I believed in the power of prayer. That would at least give me something nice to say. But it’s not on God. It’s on us. As hard as we’ve been working—the shooting came just days after the CDC reported that abortions are at an all-time low, with tens of thousands of abortions prevented through peaceful, lawful means—we have to work even harder to ensure that every human life is protected.