US & Canada

Colorado Springs shootings: Calls to cool abortion debate

John Hickenlooper Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Hickenlooper described the shooting as "a form of terrorism".

Colorado state's governor has called for both sides of the US abortion debate to "tone down the rhetoric", following an attack on a clinic.

John Hickenlooper's comments came after Friday's shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood family planning clinic, which killed three people.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson also urged advocates to express their differences in a peaceful manner.

Planned Parenthood has drawn anti-abortion protests in the past.

The clinic provides a range of health services including abortion.

The shooting suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly said "no more baby parts" during his arrest, sparking speculations that he was motivated by opposition to abortion.

Mr Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told CNN the shooting and similar violent incidences might be a result of the "inflammatory rhetoric we see on all levels", referring to the heated debate over abortion.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The clinic was badly damaged in the gun battle

He described the rampage as "a form of terrorism."

His sentiments were echoed by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.

"What we really have to start asking ourselves is what can we do as a nation to rectify the situation," Mr Carson told ABC.

"I think we should talk about the actual facts. If we can get rid of the rhetoric from either side and actually talk about the facts, I think that's when we begin to make progress," he added.

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Media captionEyewitness Ozy Licano: ''He started shooting and I was looking at his face''

Planned Parenthood, which runs the clinic in Colorado Springs, have cited witnesses who confirmed that the shooting was motivated by anti-abortion sentiments.

But investigators have refused to comment on a possible motive for the attacks, saying that an investigation was still under way.

Planned Parenthood has been the focus of protests recently after an anti-abortion organisation secretly recorded one of its staff discussing how to obtain aborted foetal tissue for medical research.

Pro-life advocates say this proves Planned Parenthood is selling foetal parts for profit - which is illegal.

The organisation has disputed this and investigations by several states have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

What is Planned Parenthood?

  • A healthcare non-profit-making group with 59 affiliates and 700 clinics around the US
  • The largest single provider of abortion in the US
  • Its clinics provide many other healthcare services including cancer screening
  • Dates back to 1916 when social activist and nurse Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control and family planning centre in Brooklyn, New York
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, Planned Parenthood affiliates were at the fore of many court fights to make abortion legal

A controversial service

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