A Colorado judge today ruled that Robert Dear, the man who has admitted to carrying out the 2015 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, remains mentally incompetent to stand trial. Dear will remain at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute at Pueblo for at least another 90 days. When he is back in court on November 17, the judge will hear requests from Dear’s lawyers asking that he be barred from speaking to the media.
Dear has been charged with 179 counts, including 8 charges of first degree murder.
Last November, Dear stormed the Planned Parenthood clinic armed with a long gun, killing three people and injuring nine others. Throughout the five-hour standoff, he expressed political sentiments, including a range of statements about President Obama, and yelled “no more baby parts.”
Abortion rights advocates believe extremists like Dear have been emboldened in the wake of the covertly taped, fraudulent series of videos released by the so-called “Center for Medical Progress” (CMP), led by Daniel Daleiden, that falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue. The CMP videos have been widely debunked, and investigations in at least 12 states and by three U.S. House Congressional Committees have found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood.
But that has not stopped some Republican lawmakers from perpetuating the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding abortion providers, nor have they disbanded the House Select Investigative Panel investigating abortion providers. The House Panel, formed after the CMP videos were already thoroughly discredited, is set to waste over $1 million in taxpayer funds by the end of this year. Even worse, without any credible evidence of wrongdoing, House Panel Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has issued subpoenas to several doctors, clinics, researchers, and others, demanding information that may put the safety of individuals at risk.
In a May 2016 letter to Speaker Ryan, Democrats on the House Panel explained, “Almost every person contacted by the Panel has expressed fear for their safety if identified in connection with this investigation, which has repeatedly been described by the Chair and other Republicans using highly misleading and inflammatory language. These concerns are not hypothetical or exaggerated.” They continue, “One of the individuals that Chair Blackburn has targeted already received graphic death threats after being identified in David Daleiden’s inflammatory and deceptively-edited videos.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation, through its Campaign to Expose Anti-Abortion Violence, has continuously called for the House Panel to either redirect its focus to anti-abortion violence, or to disband.
More than half of the abortion clinics in the United States reported threats and targeted intimidation tactics against doctors and clinics in 2014, according to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Violence Survey. These tactics included pamphlets targeting doctors and staff, WANTED-style flyers/posters, the posting of personal information and photographs of staff on the internet, targeted demonstrations at doctors’ and staff homes, and stalking of doctors and staff. In addition, one in five women’s health clinics in the United States experience severe anti-abortion violence. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders and 26 attempted murders, including those killed in Colorado Springs. In addition there have been 42 bombings, 185 arsons and thousands of “incidents of criminal activity.”