Sunday night, someone left a bomb on the windowsill of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay. The bomb started a small fire, which resulted in minimal damage to one of the clinic’s exam rooms. Luckily, no one was hurt. A male suspect, 50-year-old Francis Gerald Grady, was arrested on Monday, though he has yet to be charged. Of the 27 Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin, the one that was targeted was one of only three in the state that offered abortion services. Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin released a statement on Monday assuring that the clinic would remain open.
"Our primary concern today — as always — is our patients, staff and volunteers." "Women deserve safe and compassionate care, and we are proud to provide it. Rest assured, our doors will remain open for the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin each year for high quality health care.
"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the law enforcement agencies working with us to ensure Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin continues to be a safe and trusted health care provider," she said.
Having spent time campaigning in the state for Tuesday’s primary election, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum released a statement to TPM on Wednesday, which began by condemning the act of violence.
Violence is never the answer, and I will always condemn any and all violent attacks against our fellow Americans. In this country, we resolve our differences through political discussion and free and fair elections – never by violence.
This seems like a perfectly reasonable and appropriate response, but Rick Santorum can’t seems to pass up any opportunity to disrespect Planned Parenthood and the women who rely on their services. He couldn’t stop at condemning the violence; he had to condemn Planned Parenthood as well.
This upcoming election is about restoring freedom and liberty in America, and a key part of that is to restore a culture that values human life and the dignity of all Americans. While we can and should work to defund Planned Parenthood and push back against government mandates that force Americans and religious institution to violate their faith, violence against our fellow citizens has no place in a freedom-loving America.
I’m not writing about this because I’m surprised that he said it, I’m writing about this because his language and the policies he hopes to enact contribute to the atmosphere that pushes some people to commit acts of violence against women’s health clinics. Defunding preventative care and limiting a woman’s ability to visit a reproductive health specialist causes harm. Telling lies about the government infringing on religious liberty (which is already illegal) causes harm. Depicting Planned Parenthood as an immoral institution causes harm. I can believe that he’s against the use of violence, but it would be dishonest to say that just because that’s the case, Santorum was doing the right thing by Planned Parenthood. Of the Republicans running for President, he is the most outspoken about limiting women’s rights.
The other thing that bothers me about the language of this statement is that he uses words like freedom, liberty, and dignity, but completely overlooks the fact that women deserve the freedom, liberty, and dignity to access the health care they need without worrying about violence-inducing language and dangers of life-threatening violence like bombs or shootings.
I don’t know why Rick Santorum put out this statement at all. He’s certainly been criticized for his long history of being anti-women, and I can see why he would want to avoid further criticism, but in trying to do the right thing, all he really ended up doing was adding more fuel to the fire. What’s curious to me is why he couldn’t just say that what happened was wrong and leave it at that. Why couldn’t he just say that violence is an inappropriate way to deal with something you don’t understand or agree with?
It seems reasonable to suggest that Santorum may have included the language against Planned Parenthood not just because he is against all of the services that Planned Parenthood offers, but to appease the ever smaller and more extreme group of people he considers to be his base. I’m confused as to how his campaign thinks this will work for them. If in the event of a potentially serious act of violence on a women’s health clinic you cannot help but comment on how you irrationally believe that women having access to health care is a bad thing, how can you possibly believe that you have the temperament to lead a nation that stands with Planned Parenthood?