A gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. The shooting killed three people, including a police officer and after a five-hour standoff the attacker, now identified as 57-year-old Robert Dear, surrendered.
Although the motives of the attack are still unknown, one Planned Parenthood official said, according to FOX 13, the "poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism" could be the possible cause.
While President Obama was briefed on the situation, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders posted their reactions on Twitter:
President Obama has been briefed on the situation in Colorado and will be updated as necessary, White House official says.— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) November 27, 2015
We proudly #StandWithPP of Colorado Springs and the brave law enforcement personnel who fought to protect it.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 28, 2015
Though some mentioned it, nearly 15 hours into the incident, not one Republican presidential candidate condemned the shooting.
The silence from the GOP candidates on the murders at #PlannedParenthood is telling. And sad.— Joshua Malina (@JoshMalina) November 28, 2015
10 hours later, not even so much as a "thoughts and prayers" statement from any GOP candidate. Think about that. #PlannedParenthood— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) November 28, 2015
The GOP’s anti-choice rhetoric is well-documented. In fact, in September, some conservative lawmakers even threatened government shutdown over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Republican presidential candidates have also expressed their disapproval of the nonprofit clinic over the past year.
For instance, Donald Trump said in August, “The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly." Jeb Bush, meanwhile, couldn’t understand why “women’s health issues” required half a billion dollars.
Ted Cruz called it a “criminal empire” in September: “We shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise.” And Ben Carson said in July the women's health organization "doesn't seem to understand the sanctity of human life and is willing to destroy that."
Many believe the GOP’s false accusations have contributed to violent backlash against Planned Parenthood. As noted by VICE in October, “in the past four months, anti-abortion extremists have allegedly set four Planned Parenthood locations on fire.”
The silence over the Colorado mass shooting from the GOP is not only deafening, it’s criminal. Even if the attack is not related to anti-abortion extremism, the presidential candidates must at least issue a condemnation for the affected families and community.