Why the Planned Parenthood shooting is a racial justice issue

Photo credit: Debra Sweet
When Robert Dear terrorized Planned Parenthood patients, employees and an entire Colorado community last week, he elevated months of increasingly dangerous rhetoric to a place of violence and tragedy.  Dear’s attack–which killed three people, including a responding police officer, and wounded 11 others–was clearly motivated by the “sting” videos that recently brought Planned Parenthood once again into the national spotlight.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch rightly denounced the shooting as a “crime against women.”  If you look below the surface, It’s also an attack on women of color.  This is not to suggest that the shooting itself was racially motivated.  Rather, it implies that the repeated attempts to discredit and demonize Planned Parenthood have dangerous implications for women of color that make last week’s shooting–and yesterday’s defunding vote, and this summer’s series of misleading videos, and the ongoing attempts to make it harder and harder for women to obtain safe, legal abortions–issues of racial and reproductive justice.

The reality is that if you dig a little deeper on virtually any issue where women as a whole are struggling for equality or agency, women of color are in even more dire straits.  Consider the wage gap, where the widely reported statistic is that women earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar.  For black women, the reality is that they earn 64 cents to a white man’s dollar, and for Latina women, earnings fall to 54 percent.  The dearth in leadership representation in business and politics is a challenge shows similarly stark circumstances for women of color.  Instances of rape and violence against women are a real challenge for white women but a near-crisis for women of color.

When it comes to reproductive health and rights, let’s look at the facts.  Continue reading