Robert Lewis Dear was scheduled to be formally charged on Wednesday. According to a CBS reporter, he made an outburst in the Colorado courtroom before the charges were read — one that strongly hints at a potential motive for his crimes.
“I am guilty. There will be no trial. I am a warrior for the babies,” Dear reportedly said.
“You’ll never know the amount of blood I saw in that place,” he continued, according to a reporter who was in the courtroom. “Seal the truth, kill the babies, that’s what Planned Parenthood does.”
The news of Dear’s outburst comes after several weeks of speculation about why he went on a shooting spree at a Colorado Springs health clinic the day after Thanksgiving. The mainstream media and U.S. lawmakers have been reluctant to label the crime as a terrorist act, saying that it’s important to wait for more information.
Reproductive rights proponents, on the other hand, have been insistent about the fact that Dear fits into a larger pattern of violence targeted at abortion clinics. They say he was clearly influenced by extreme rhetoric stemming from the anti-choice community, and have been pressuring the government to classify the shooting as domestic terrorism.
There are some other pieces of evidence pointing to Dear’s anti-abortion ideology. According to recent reports, Dear asked for directions to the clinic on the day of the shooting. And after he was in custody, he told investigators, “No more baby parts” — an apparent reference to inflammatory videos released this summer that accuse the national women’s health provider of illegally selling fetal tissue.
It’s not uncommon for anti-abortion activists to refer themselves as “warriors” for the cause. The language choice reflects the fact that many abortion opponents see themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare to rid society of the procedure.
In a statement released Wednesday, Vicki Cowart, the president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, emphasized that Planned Parenthood’s doors will remain open. But she also issued a call to tone down extreme rhetorical attacks against the national women’s health organization.
“We know that words matter. It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations,” Cowart said. “Enough is enough — this violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”
[cross posted from thinkprogress]