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Professor David S. Cohen and Alumna Krysten Connon Link Colorado Springs Shooting to History of Violence in ‘Fresh Air’ Interview

Cohen and Connon talk about anti-abortion terrorism book.

December 21, 2015

Robert L. Dear Jr.’s deadly rampage at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. was not unique in its indiscriminate nature, Professor David S. Cohen said during a Dec. 17 interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

Cohen recalled a similar tragedy from 1994, when John Salvi opened fire in two Boston abortion clinics. “(Salvi) killed a receptionist in both places and wounded five others, including a security guard and a couple of patient supporters who were there, very similar to what Robert Dear did in Colorado,” he said, highlighting how abortion providers have come to fear not only for themselves but for those around them.

Cohen was joined in the interview with Terry Gross by alumna Krysten Connon, ’12, his co-author with “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.” The book draws from interviews with nearly 90 abortion providers and clinic volunteers across the country.

“Providers don’t talk openly about their profession,” said Connon. “A lot of people have explained to us how committed they are to the work that they’re doing. And they have legal jobs, and they feel that they should be able to talk about what they do, but instead they don't because they’re fearful.”

The “Fresh Air” interview followed a string of high-profile appearances by Cohen and Connon, following the May 2015 publication of their book by Oxford University Press. The co-authors and their book were also featured in Rolling Stone, on the Melissa Harris Perry show on MSNBC and on WHYY’s “Radio Times.”

Cohen and Connon also contributed an op-ed, “How We Can Disrupt the Pattern of Anti-Abortion Violence,” to RH Reality Check on Dec. 16. They addressed the kind of politicized rhetoric that Dear repeated in a courtroom hearing and reportedly during police questioning.

“Depoliticizing means more than just reducing the ways that abortion is needlessly restricted,” they wrote. “It’s also about toning down the violent rhetoric. When providers are regularly called ‘murderers’ or ‘baby killers,’ the environment is not one ripe for reasoned discussion of a divisive issue. Rather, it’s one thatprimes people to take matters into their own hands.”