This week, abortion rights activists are going to use tough language and modern political tactics to make the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Friday into a political moment they say will put abortion opponents on the defensive after a year that has seen them score a number of political victories against legal and accessible abortion.
That means abortion rights supporters using the word “terrorism” to describe what happened in Colorado Springs. That means confronting pro-life Republicans and asking them about what activists call “a culture of violence” directed toward abortion providers. And that means trying to engage Democratic allies in Washington to do the same — something that prominent Democrats like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz have already done — in the hopes, particularly, of turning a byzantine Senate vote as early as this week into a political opportunity for Democrats on the abortion issue.
The modern pro-choice movement has been infused with a new kind of political skill set born in the netroots left, the activist labor movement, and the tactical innovations from the Obama campaign. Listservs and email chains lit up in the pro-choice community almost immediately, and it didn’t take long for pro-choice activists to put resources on the ground to turn the tragedy into a moment they argue could turn Americans off to some of the more ugly rhetoric among abortion opponents — and put Republican presidential candidates in a tough spot.