Friday's shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood killed three (Garrett Swasey, Jennifer Markovsky, and Ke'Arre Stewart) and led to the arrest of suspect Robert Lewis Dear. The violence was horrific and is part of a wave of both verbal and physical attacks on clinics that offer reproductive health services — attacks that have become terrifyingly routine. In an interview with NPR this morning, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards spoke of the "incredible escalation of harassment and intimidation" at these clinics over the past five years, linking it with increasingly vitriolic political rhetoric on the right. "Folks are willing to say anything, it seems, to get ahead in their political ambitions," she commented. Yesterday, former Planned Parenthood worker Bryn Greenwood took to Twitter to detail the terrorism she and her colleagues faced at the Kansas clinic where Greenwood worked for three years. Her tweets offer a ground-level view of the harassment and intimidation of which Richards spoke.
Greenwood went on to tweet that she had been asked why protesters and terrorists would attack a clinic that didn't even perform abortions. She addressed the question eloquently: "Because we were a safe space for women & LGBTQA people," she wrote. "Because we understood that not everyone could afford to pay. Because we didn't make people feel ashamed... Because those things are anathema to a certain type of person who thrives on shame, oppression, & denial. PP still stands against them." As Greenwood demonstrates, to oppose Planned Parenthood is to oppose its patients' right to decide their futures — and while the majority of Americans oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, a minority continues to target the organization with violence, making unapologetically supportive voices such as Greenwood's ever more necessary.