Reproductive Rights

Planned Parenthood Shooter in Court as House Select Investigative Panel Continues Witch Hunt

Robert Dear, the man who has admitted to carrying out the 2015 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, was in court again today, as a judge ruled that he is still not mentally competent to stand trial and participate in his own defense.

Dear has been charged with 179 counts, including 8 charges of first degree murder, after storming into a Planned Parenthood health center last November armed with a long gun, killing three people and injuring nine others.

Abortion rights activists 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) that falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue.

Despite 12 state and 3 Congressional investigations finding no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, the House Select Investigative Panel looking into the matter refuses to disband. Democratic members of the Panel refer to the investigation as a “McCarthyesque witch hunt.” Without any credible evidence of wrongdoing, Chair Marsha Blackburn has issued subpoenas to a number of doctors, clinics, researchers, and others, demanding information that threatens their safety.

Just yesterday Dr. Warren Hern, a Colorado physician that had been needlessly subpoenaed by the Panel, released a scathing letter to Rewire denouncing Rep. Blackburn’s attempt to force him to release his patients’ records.

He writes, “Your demand is calculated to impugn and otherwise slander the professional reputation of physicians, such as myself, who are helping women manage an acute medical and emotional crisis that affects their lives in the most profound way. You make this situation more unbearably worse for them by your ‘investigation’ that is not only cruel but ignorant as well. The fact that you are doing this for crass political purposes and partisan advantage is abhorrent.”

Dr. Hern even touched on the violence and threats that doctors, researchers and clinics, like the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, have suffered from since the House investigation has begun. “As part of this sham ‘investigation,’ your letter to me and letters to other physicians constitute a program of target identification for anti-abortion assassins,” Dr. Hern wrote. “Your ‘investigation’ is legislative harassment that endangers our lives. The blood of any of us who are assassinated is on your hands.”

It came out this week that Republicans in the House seek to nearly double the budget of the Panel from $790,000 to $1.59 million. In his letter, Dr. Hern references the astronomical cost of the dangerous investigation.

“The $1.59 million dollars that you are spending for this fraudulent ‘investigation’ would pay for nearly 2,000 young women to have safe and effective long-acting contraception that would prevent unwanted pregnancies,” writes Dr. Hern. “Even the most obtuse can see that such access would dramatically and immediately reduce the number of abortions. Your blindness to this, and your hypocrisy and political cynicism is appalling.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation has been calling on the Panel to either redirect its focus to violence against providers or disband. Or, as Dr. Hern phrases the situation to the Rep. Blackburn, “You are using the coercive powers of the State to impose your own religious and partisan beliefs upon those who do not share them. This is the antithesis of American society and constitutional democracy. We fought the American Revolution to rid ourselves of this oppressive, pestilential and authoritarian practice. Did you know that?”

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