For the first time since the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, a Planned Parenthood location was the target of a domestic terrorist attack.
In the pre-dawn hours of September 4, one or more arsonists fire-bombed the Planned Parenthood facility in Pullman, Washington, gutting the building and leaving patients in the area with few healthcare options until Planned Parenthood can establish a new operating site.
Last month, the Pullman facility was the site of an anti-choice rally. More than 500 people affiliated with an Idaho-based anti-choice group known as the Selkirk Pro-Life Alliance turned out for the day-long event. While there's no evidential connection between the August 22 rally and the fire, an investigatory task force including agents from Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as Pullman fire officials, ruled that the fire was deliberately set. It's not a stretch to conclude that anti-choice zealotry was behind the attack.
What's also perfectly clear is that a series of horrendously edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of ghoulish criminal activity has effectively amplified the anti-choice outrage machine, which has to include the well-known terrorist fringe of the movement. As with the connection between the protest and the attack, there's no way to know at this point whether the terrorist or terrorists responsible were specifically incited by the videos, but it's reasonable to conclude that the videos, while being fraudulently produced, have touched off a new chapter of unmitigated sanctimony and bug-eyed fury over Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer reproductive services for women.
Of course, the fakery of the videos, as well as the reality that Planned Parenthood saves considerably more lives than abortion services performed is irrelevant in the face of single-minded automatons who are feverishly motivated by the very thought of an aborted fetus. Nothing, in their minds, morally outweighs the photographic images of fetuses. Nothing. Yes, it's all very graphic to laypeople, but the procedure shouldn't in any universe morally justify threats or acts of terrorism. The same can be said about too many congressional and state level Republicans who are wasting untold millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue to investigate Planned Parenthood based on completely false charges. No wonder Florida Governor Rick Scott scrubbed the results of his investigation when they ended up showing zero wrongdoing on behalf of the clinics.
As we've seen with recent behavior surrounding Kim Davis and same-sex marriage, Republican activists and operatives are resorting to increasingly dramatic measures that include defying the Supreme Court in the face of changing demographics and, on the abortion issue, actively de-funding and demonizing Planned Parenthood based on provably false accusations.
However, the terrorism aimed at healthcare clinics that happen to provide legal and safe abortion procedures is a perpetual threat -- a threat that can only be worsened by the existence of those videos.
Earlier this year, a Rhode Island man named Dan Bidondi, a self-described "journalist" for Alex Jones' conspiracy theory radio show, posted a YouTube video in which he encouraged his viewers to load cement trucks with C-4 explosives and drive the vehicles into abortion clinics. To be fair, Bidondi made sure to say that the attacks should only occur at night to avoid casualties, as if that makes it all okay. As of this writing, the Bidondi video is still on YouTube.
As we observed with Dan Bidondi and others, there's a mindset among the most nefarious participants in the anti-choice cabal: Do whatever is necessary to save the fetuses, no matter what. Of course, after the fetuses are birthed, they're on their own -- especially if they end up as one of 2.5 million homeless children. Lousy takers.
Since the release of the CMP videos, death threats against abortion providers have jumped, including threats against Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the physician who was targeted by the first CMP video back in July.
According to The Huffington Post, one threat involved a cash reward for Dr. Nucatola's assassination:
"I'll pay ten large to whomever kills Dr. Deborah Nucatola," the person wrote, referring to the senior director of Planned Parenthood who was filmed in the video. "Anyone. Go for it."
Vicki Saporta, of the National Abortion Federation, told Huff Post's Laura Bassett:
"In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring," she told The Huffington Post in an interview. "We have enlisted law enforcement's help."
While it's always shocking, none of this is surprising. It's also not surprising that obvious and incontrovertible terrorist attacks like the one in Washington aren't treated with anything close to the degree of coverage that's given to Islamic terrorism. It's never breaking news when Christian terrorists bomb facilities that offer healthcare to women. Has Rand Paul, who, by the way, supports criminalizing abortion, been asked about the attack last week? Has Ben Carson? Has Trump? What about Rick Scott? At this point, the usual players are too busy vilifying Planned Parenthood on false charges to acknowledge that an act of terrorism, and a spate of death threats, have been quite possibly sparked by the GOP establishment's active legitimization of the bogus CMP videos. But, once again, there won't be any accountability; no one will take ownership of the deception; and the terrorist threats will persist.