By Carolyn Conte | The Duquesne Duke
Following the deaths of three people during a Nov. 27 shooting at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania said it plans to keep its doors open while ensuring the safety of its visitors, according to spokeswoman Aleigh Cavalier.
The shooting came after a string of controversies and protests against Planned Parenthood clinics after videos surfaced in July that appeared to show a Planned Parenthood representative purchasing fetal tissue. According to CNN, the shooter, Robert Dear, 57, mentioned “baby parts” to investigators and made anti-abortion comments after his arrest.
After the shooting, Planned Parenthood clinics in areas including New York City and Nashville decided to increase their security measures and partnered with local police to increase law enforcement presence at the clinics.
Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood in Downtown is the closest clinic to Duquesne University, and has been the subject of multiple protests in the last year. In July, more than 50 anti-abortion protesters gathered outside the clinic to call for a de-funding of organization. Several church groups have peacefully gathered outside the clinic to offer counseling and information to passerby.
Cavalier said security updates or changes at clinics near Pittsburgh cannot be disclosed for safety reasons.
“I will say that the safety of our patients and staff has always and still remains our number one priority,” she said, “and we continue to work with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of our clinics and everyone inside.”
Although the Pittsburgh clinic has not experienced any violence, there have been over 300 acts of violence against Planned Parenthood across the United States since abortion was legalized in 1973, including arson, bombs and murders, according to RAND Corporation researchers. The clinic on Liberty Avenue often requires visitors to show ID and speak with an attendant before entering the clinic.
A 2014 survey by the Feminist Majority Foundation, a pro-abortion organization, found that one in five clinics “experience severe violence.”
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, called the attack one in a series of “hateful rhetoric” against the organization on NPR Monday.
Cavalier said the staff of PPWP is “grateful to law enforcement agencies and Planned Parenthood staff who handled this tragedy [in Colorado] with courage and compassion.”
Dear faces murder charges for the Colorado shooting, which resulted in nine injuries and the deaths of a police officer, a mother and a veteran.