A Republican congressional leader on Monday defended a House investigation of Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue to researchers, offering no suggestion that last week’s shooting deaths at one of the group’s clinics will cause the GOP to retreat from that probe

No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said that despite the shootings, Republicans still planned to propose blocking Planned Parenthood’s money in a bill that would also repeal important parts of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

“Those are separate issues completely,” Cornyn said of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donations and the attack on its clinic.

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The leader of the GOP-controlled House committee charged with investigating abortion providers is defending its mission in the wake of a deadly rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Monday forcefully fought back against calls from Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to disband the committee, which they say has intensified anti-abortion rhetoric that contributed to the shooting.

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, Blackburn condemned the shooting as “deplorable” and accused Boxer of seizing on the incident for her party’s political gain.

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Since July, when the Center for Medical Progress began releasing videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal remains, there’s been an “unprecedented escalation in hate speech and threats against abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Over the summer, her group met with the Department of Justice’s National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers, which was established by Janet Reno after a rash of anti-abortion murders in the 1990s. “We’re turning over the threats we’ve uncovered to them for their investigation and handling,” Saporta says. “Quite frankly, the threats and hate speech and posts have been too numerous for our staff to keep up with.”

And not just threats: There have been four arson attacks against abortion clinics since July. In October, someone smashed up a New Hampshire Planned Parenthood with a hatchet. “We have rewards being put out for the murder of doctors,” Saporta says. In late July, the Center for Medical Progress released a video that included footage of Savita Ginde, medical director of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain, the affiliate that the Colorado Springs clinic is part of. Shortly after, according to a National Abortion Federation court filing, about 50 protesters showed up at Ginde’s home, “holding signs stating ‘Planned Parenthood sells baby parts,’ and leaving fliers around her neighborhood claiming in massive print that ‘Savita Ginde Murders Children.’ ”

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Abortion opponents have every right to lobby to take the funding away, and to use whatever language they choose in doing so. The First Amendment protects them. But that doesn’t mean that the killings necessarily came from nowhere, or that no one cautioned that the recent burst of angry accusations carried a physical risk. In September, the F.B.I. warned of an uptick in attacks against abortion facilities, singling out “lone offenders” using tactics “typical of the pro-life extremist movement.” After the shooting, Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said in a statement: “We have seen an unprecedented increase in hate speech and threats against abortion providers. We have been quite worried that this increase in threats would lead to a violent attack like we saw today.”

There’s a logic to violence at abortion clinics, however twisted. Before he shot and killed Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas, in 2009, Scott Roeder contributed to a newsletter, Prayer and Action News, which has argued that killing an abortion provider is justifiable homicide. David Leach, publisher of the newsletter, said of Roeder’s act, “There is Christian Scripture that would support this.” Roeder invoked his religious beliefs at trial and explained, “There was nothing being done, and the legal process had been exhausted, and these babies were dying every day.” In March 1993, Randall Terry, leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said: “We’ve found the weak link is the doctor. We’re going to expose them,” at a rally in southern Florida. A few days later, Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider, was shot and killed outside his clinic in the state.

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The National Right to Life Committee said it “unequivocally condemns unlawful activities and acts of violence regardless of motivation,” and Americans United for Life said, “We categorically condemn this violence.” But in interviews with MSNBC, some grassroots abortion opponents across the country also pointed the finger at legal abortion itself.

“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it’s acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn’t it acceptable to violently kill other people?”

“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it’s the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it’s not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It’s the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”

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We bring people into a frenzy of hate and anger while providing them with easy access to firearms [and it] has proven disastrous to our country,” [Harry] Reid said on the Senate floor on Monday.

“We in the Senate should not fail to see the context in which this vile assault took place,” he added, pointing to the videos made by an anti-abortion group. “Since that time, the Republican Congress have made it their mission to push these unsubstantiated allegations every chance they get.” He urged lawmakers to be “mindful of our words and actions.”

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Carly Fiorina called efforts to link the shooting to anti-abortion rhetoric part of “typical left-wing tactics.” Lest we forget, Fiorina has been one of the most adamant in espousing lies against Planned Parenthood, even going as far as to falsely claim in a debate that undercover video shot in the organization had shown “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

“This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message,” Fiorina said on Fox News Sunday. “What I would say to anyone who would try to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or the sale of body parts, is this is typical, left-wing tactics.” She said protesters should be peaceful, regardless of their cause. “Any protesters should always be peaceful, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or pro-life protesters,” she said. “Protesters should always be peaceful and respectful.”…

Mike Huckabee called the shooting “domestic terrorism” but said it was “disingenuous” to blame anti-abortion activism for the attack. “Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism,” Huckabee told CNN. “And what he did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement because there’s nothing about any of us that would condone or any way look the other way at something like this.” But Huckabee later went on to conveniently link Planned Parenthood to murders. “There’s no excuse for killing other people, whether it’s happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood.”

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The media made a rush to judgement in blaming the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting on the pro-life movement, according to Sen. Ted Cruz…

“The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this point there’s very little evidence to indicate that,” Cruz told The Texas Tribune, a liberal political website in his home state…

“It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent, and a woman, and [he’s] a transgendered leftist activist,” Cruz said. “If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame [the shooting] on the rhetoric on the Left.”

The only designations the shooter deserved were “a deranged individual” and “a murderer.”

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Eco-terrorism is on the decline, but even when it was at its height, no one blamed Al Gore for ELF attacks or told environmentalists to shut up lest they further inflame their tiny fringe. The way to combat environmentalist excess is to debate it on the merits and defeat it in the ballot box…

America doesn’t have a problem with Christian terrorism or with eco-terrorism. True homegrown extremists are but the smallest blip on our criminal-justice system’s radar. Thankfully, our few domestic terrorists are isolated, shunned by every reasonable activist, organization, politician, and citizen.

To claim otherwise is to lie. To claim otherwise is to tempt Americans to take their eyes off the real threat to our security — a rapidly growing mass movement that is wholly and completely dedicated to violence. Our real worry shouldn’t be an alienated teenager with a Confederate flag or an angry hermit who hates the government. It should be the fully mobilized jihadist armies controlling nation-sized chunks of territory, the entire governments dedicated to the spread of jihad and seeking nuclear weapons, and their tens of millions of supporters and sympathizers. These are the evil fanatics who have killed and maimed thousands of Americans, and aim to kill thousands more. They continue to show us what a true terror threat looks like, but too many of us still refuse to look.

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I think, that is, that most Americans are perfectly capable of distinguishing this murderer from peaceful pro-lifers and of seeing that, while pro-life activists, like any other kind of activists, sometimes say intemperate things, they are not responsible for these murders. That might change if these murders were followed up by others, so that we had a real pattern that people regularly saw in the news. But nothing like that has been happening in recent years. Look at this chart from the National Abortion Federation: There were 2 murders attributable to anti-abortion violence in 1998, one in 2009, and none in between or afterward–until now. That’s too many murders, of course, but thankfully we have seen no organized campaign of anti-abortion violence.

Late-term abortionist George Tiller was murdered on May 31, 2009. (Here’s NR’s editorial on that murder.) That murder was clearly a political act; the mix of politics and mental illness in this weekend’s killings is still a bit murky. But many of the same arguments about pro-life complicity in the murder that are being made today were being made then too. Those arguments don’t seem to have had much political effect…

Assuming that we see no more anti-abortion murders, and that the Republican presidential nominee does not say anything crazy about these murders, I suspect that what happened in Colorado Springs will play no role in next year’s election.

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So, what does this tell us about the “overheated rhetoric” in our culture?

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I suspect the press is crediting the pro-choice spin on these killings because most journalists are themselves pro-choice and inclined to see pro-lifers as extremists. And so reporters who would consider it unfair to blame cop-killings on the rhetoric of some Black Lives Matter activists don’t have the same sympathetic reflex when pro-lifers are in the dock…

When violence is committed in the name of a political movement, its responsible members have a duty to condemn it and to seek to root it out of their ranks — two things that pro-lifers have done. Do members of a movement have a duty to restrain their words for fear that madmen will commit outrages based on them? I think the answer is that political activists should refrain from saying anything more inflammatory than needed to make their case against the injustice that moves them — not so much from fear of the deranged as from love of their fellow citizens. The reason Hillary Clinton should stop saying that peaceful, run-of-the-mill pro-lifers are like terrorists is not that she’s likely to inspire violence; it’s that saying it makes our political debates even nastier and dumber than they already are.

Pro-life rhetoric isn’t the real issue for pro-choicers anyway. The bedrock pro-life view — which, if you haven’t figured it out already, I share — is that abortion is the unjust killing of living human beings. Any expression of that view, any political action taken to advance it, is going to offend many pro-choicers, and could lead some people to violent acts. Pro-choicers who want pro-lifers to stop saying that abortion kills unborn children aren’t objecting to the pro-life movement’s rhetoric; they’re objecting to its existence.

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And third — and this is where things get Alanis Morrissette chaotic Paladin-level ironic — this frame will not work because the media was so successful at squashing the very story they now cite as the source of Dear’s rage: the series of undercover videos, which have depicted behind-the-scenes activities and conversations at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country and with their top ranking officials, showing them engaging in legally questionable and ethically vile behavior, even to the point of negotiating the sale of baby parts for profit.

It is a very hard case to make that pro-lifers telling the truth about Planned Parenthood, and politicians demanding they be called to account for that truth, are acts that encourage domestic terrorism. It is harder still to make that case when you have worked tirelessly over the course of months to squelch all reporting about this story that did not declare it debunked.

So prepare to read about how Dear is representative of the radical ideology espoused and shared by most pro-life Christians, the Center for Medical Progress, and the Little Sisters of the Poor. And tomorrow Planned Parenthood will go back to its work: the casual daily murder of innocent human life, justified by an anti-scientific ideology that dehumanizes its victims, profiting from the taxpayers and the products of this destruction in turn, over and over and over again.

“We can’t let it become normal,” President Obama said the other day. I agree. But it already is, because he and others want it to be.

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“[P]eople have to understand that hateful rhetoric and words and harassment of doctors and harassment of women going to health centers have real implications.”

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