December 5, 2015

The recent murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado by Robert Lewis Dear reminded me of the first wave of murders against Planned Parenthood in the 1990s, particularly the one in Brookline, Massachusetts, where, on December 30, 1994, John Salvi murdered two people in two separate clinics on Beacon St. within a few blocks of each other. (Brookline is about a mile from where I live, just over the Charles river.)

What I recall at the time was the daily, relentless, and sometimes violent protests at the clinics under the banner of Operation Rescue, a group strongly and vocally supported by the Catholic Church, and in particular, Bernard Law, the Cardinal of Boston at the time.
Here is a link to the transcript of Frontline, the PBS documentary that assembled this discordant, paradoxical, and dis-jointed narrative that finally, made “sense” of the 1994 murders. It is not unlike what is happening today. As Mary Daly (one of the interviewed), the feminist-professor at Boston College at the time said, “It is part of the same continuum.”
In jurisprudence there is the material author and an intellectual author of a crime: the material author commits the crime, while the intellectual author is the person or persons who inspired and persuaded them to do it. This was a “perfect fit” in the 1994 murders, as it is in the one that just happened.
Since this summer, the Right—individually and collectively—in all its spiritual, political, and cultural manifestations, have charged up the rhetoric and hate speech against Planned Parenthood until it’s wavelength struck a chord in one particular individual who was moved to take the action he did.
Bernie Sanders was out front with the clearest assessment of all the candidates, “explicitly call[ing] out the lies propagated by Republicans this summer stemming from fraudulent videos released by pro-life activists.” (Jameson Parker, Addicting Info)
“While we still do not know the shooter’s motive, what is clear is that Planned Parenthood has been the subject of vicious and unsubstantiated statements attacking an organization that provides critical health care for millions of Americans. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it is doing and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”
In my view, all the attacks, woundings, murders, burnings of clinics and all-out assaults against Planned Parenthood, past, present, and (sadly) no doubt, to come, are clearly intended.

Richard Cambridge