Written by Julia Tarantino
This past Sunday, Nov. 27, marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs. On Black Friday last year, a man walked into a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs and opened fire, killing three people and injuring nine others with a semiautomatic rifle. The shooter, Robert Dear, was reportedly motivated by an anti-abortion agenda and has since been recognized as experiencing an unspecified mental illness.
Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides affordable reproductive health care to both men and women, has played an important role in low-income communities. Planned Parenthood offers a wide range of safe, reliable, preventive, and primary care resources to local communities. Since the violent shooting which took place last fall at Planned Parenthood, two dozen Colorado Springs police officers have been awarded the CSPD’s Medal of Honor, the highest commendation for bravery. One of the honored officers included Mike Zamonas, who lost a finger in the shooting. Dozens more received the Medal of Valor and Distinguished Service Award for containing the situation. Planned Parenthood received a plethora of comments from anti-abortion advocates and liberal supporters alike.
Most recently, the presidential race has left many people wondering about the status and protection of abortion rights. In a presidential debate, Republican Donald Trump talked of “ripping” babies from the womb to illustrate his opposition to the practice of late-term abortions.
Less than 2 percent of abortions in this country are performed after the second trimester, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In addition to Trump’s pro-life views, vice president-elect Mike Pence is also widely known as a passionate anti-abortion supporter. Pence said he would shut down the U.S. government over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. During his time as Indiana governor, he has signed every anti-abortion bill put in front of him and co-sponsored anti-abortion legislation that would have allowed federal funds to be used on women with an unwanted pregnancy only if the rape was “forcible.”
Pence’s hate for Planned Parenthood inspired Americans who support the organization to send in donations to local clinics made under Pence’s name after Donald Trump’s election victory. Not 10 days after the election, Planned Parenthood reportedly received 200,000 donations, around 50,000 of them under Pence’s name.
Currently, many states have placed restrictions on abortion providers, some states even forbidding public funding of abortion services. Seventeen states mandate that women receive counseling before an abortion. Twenty-seven states require waiting periods and 37 states require parental involvement for minors seeking an abortion.
In 2017, with Pence, Trump and a Republican-led Congress in the White House, restrictions and defunding of Planned Parenthood in a federal and state capacity will likely become more widespread.
Junior Mimi Smith commented on how the election might affect institutions such as Planned Parenthood. “The potential for organization like these to be drastically defunded in conjunction with the anniversary of the shooting gives us all the more reason to find ways to support these different institutions,” she said.
Planned Parenthood has also taken a strong stance in the face of the election results, releasing the following statement to the public: “Planned Parenthood has been here for 100 years, and one thing is clear: We will never back down and we will never stop fighting to ensure that Planned Parenthood patients have access to the care they need … Health care should not be political. Every morning, Planned Parenthood health center staff across the country wake up and open their doors, as they have this morning, to care for anyone who needs them, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, income, or country of origin. They will do so today, they will do so tomorrow, they will do so every day as they have for 100 years.”
There are many compelling reasons people seek out services at Planned Parenthood, and the future of clinics like the one attacked in Colorado Springs remains uncertain. It is possible that institutions like Planned Parenthood will be regulated in the face of current political change.