• Fox News

In the wake of Friday's awful shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, Fox News and the clown car of GOP presidential hopefuls are trotting out that tired accusation we hear every time there's a mass shooting: The left-wing establishment/Planned Parenthood/liberal media is politicizing a tragedy. The implication, of course, is that tragedies happen in a vacuum, and we're all just pretending, for evil ends, that they have political context. This is a bad argument generally, and it's even less convincing when we're talking about a shooting at an abortion clinic, which is inherently political. It was an act of domestic terrorism. That isn't just what Planned Parenthood called it, although they did. It's not just what the angry feminists in your Twitter feed are calling it, though they probably are. Domestic terrorism is, objectively, exactly what carrying a gun into an abortion clinic with the intent to cause harm is. And it is always political.

Violence targeting abortion providers remains one of the most insidious and mundane forms of persistent domestic terrorism in modern America, and it is motivated by ideology. According to a database of reported incidents kept by the National Abortion Federation, 11 abortion providers have been murdered by anti-choice extremists since 1993. The database lists 224 incidents of attempted clinic arsons and bombings since the late 70s. It isn't just clinics, either: In 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was killed by an anti-choice terrorist while attending church services in Wichita, Kansas. Most patients seeking healthcare can reasonably expect not to be badgered by judgmental strangers on their way into a clinic. But there's an entire substrata of abortion clinic volunteers who sole job it is to make sure that women make it past hordes of anti-choice extremists and into clinics safely. They're called clinic escorts, and they are saints.

This is all part of a deliberate campaign of violence against women and their healthcare providers, and it's bolstered by smear campaigns like the one leveled at Planned Parenthood earlier this year by a fringe of the fringe anti-choice group Live Action, and embraced by the GOP's shoutiest. Such misinformation isn't harmless, and it can be a catalyst for violence. It's no surprise that the shooter in Colorado Springs told police he was motivated by the insidious rumors perpetuated by Carly Fiorina, et al. You know, about how Planned Parenthood sells parts of dead babies, which is wrong on so many levels both factual and semantic that it's mind-boggling anyone would work so tirelessly to keep it going if they weren't trying to curry favor with the radical right.

So while Fox News hews to its signature indignant outrage, and GOP candidates work to distance their perpetuation of anti-choice slander from the real-life consequences of anti-choice violence, let's call this what it was: domestic terrorism borne of violent misogyny, inflammatory rhetoric, and religious extremism, leveled at an organization that has likely provided healthcare for most of the women you know, and (do I really need to say it?) also provides services for men.

It must require a special kind of cognitive dissonance to look at yet another act of violence at an abortion clinic and suggest that we not make it political. Don't politicize the shooting? Really? I'm not, actually. It was already politicized. It was politicized the moment someone brought a gun to an abortion clinic. Those calling for greater gun control and for an end to clinic violence aren't the ones who politicized an abortion clinic shooting. The shooter did that. And so did the people who propagated the misinformation that he cited as the reason for his actions.