Colorado Planned Parenthood reopens 'with more conviction than ever'

After a deadly shooting in November, a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic reopened Monday, 'with our eyes to the future,' said Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. 

Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette/AP
Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains addresses the media outside a chain link fence around ongoing reconstruction of the entrance of the building on Monday, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Colorado Springs' Planned Parenthood clinic reopened Monday, nearly three months after a gunman killed three people and injured nine others. 'We are opening today with our eyes to the future,' said Ms. Cowart.

Almost three months after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, killing three and injuring nine, the facility reopened Monday.

"Today, we opened our doors in Colorado Springs. We didn't back down. We didn't disappear. We returned, stronger and with more conviction than ever," the clinic said in a statement.

The facility is still punctured with bullet scars and other damage from the five-hour siege and police efforts to stop the shooter. Only about one-third of the building was in use Monday, as work crews continued to repair the rest.

But inside, the clinic was ready to receive numerous scheduled appointments across a range of health services.

"We are opening today with our eyes to the future," said Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Planned Parenthood offers a variety of health services, but the gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, says he targeted the clinic as an abortion provider. In court he pled guilty, calling himself a "warrior for the babies."

The attack punctuated a period of heightened tension in the abortion debate, following the release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood workers discussing the use of fetal body parts for medical research.

Antiabortion activists largely separated themselves from the bloody attack in November, but the US Senate still voted to defund Planned Parenthood just days after the shooting.

In a statement following the attack, Ms. Cowart said that the fiery debate following the release of those videos sets up a scenario that "breeds acts of violence."

Violent attacks on abortion providers are nothing new.

"There has been a long history of arsons, bombings, attacks, but they tend to ebb and flow," Lauren Anderson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation legal attaché with experience in antiabortion violence cases, told The Daily Dot in November. "It’s cyclical, and you see upticks based on events that hit the mainstream media. When something happens that brings it to the forefront, that causes a surge in violent activity."

The public debate may be perpetuating division in the debate. As The Christian Science Monitor's Jessica Mendoza reported in December:

'The political imagination we have pits two very strong goods against each other,' says Fordham University ethicist Charles Camosy. 'Babies are babies, and we ought to protect babies from violence. And women are persons, and we ought to allow them to make decisions about their bodies.'

'When people try to hold these two values together, it becomes more complex, and it doesn’t fit into 140 characters or a headline. It doesn’t work for campaign sound bites,' he continues. So politicians, advocates, and the media do the easier thing, Professor Camosy says: 'We pull away into these two camps and lob grenades at each other.'

But taking up their post outside the clinic Monday, protesters were careful not to endorse Mr. Dear's lethal attack and instead expressed sympathy toward the victims.

"No one deserves to go through what they went through," protester Joseph Martone told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "We respect life. All life."

This report contains material from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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