(NEW YORK) — Planned Parenthood has been increasing its security measures over the last few months as “inflammatory rhetoric” about the organization has been growing, an official for the group said in the wake of the deadly shooting at its Colorado Springs, Colorado clinic over the weekend.
While Planned Parenthood declined to disclose specific security measures, some health centers have “increased patrols from dedicated security guards, while others have upgraded their monitoring systems,” Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Monday, noting that the group’s health centers have increased security “over the last few months as inflammatory rhetoric about Planned Parenthood increased.”
Questions on security protocol at Planned Parenthood clinics come in the wake of Friday’s shooting in Colorado Springs, during which a shooter engaged in a standoff with police for hours, authorities said. Three people were killed and at least nine others were injured.
“Our health center staff around the country have long been trained in security protocols,” Ferrero added, “and that training helped our brave staff members in Colorado Springs work with local law enforcement to prevent this tragedy from being far worse than it was.”
All of the staff at the Colorado Springs clinic escaped the shooting uninjured, Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said on ABC News’ This Week Sunday.
Cowart praised the Colorado Springs clinic staff, who she said “responded perfectly” and “according to their training” when the shooting broke out.
“They got away from the front of the building. They got into the back, locked portions of the building,” Cowart said on This Week. “They called 911 immediately.”
“They moved into locked office spaces. Not one big space, but different office spaces around the building, and they hunkered down,” Cowart said. “They quieted their cell phones, they didn’t talk, and they waited for the officials to rescue them.”
While police haven’t released a possible motive or said whether the clinic was the intended target, Cowart said she believes the clinic was targeted. She said she believes a “negative environment” around Planned Parenthood contributed to recent attacks on the health care provider.
“We’ve seen that across the country from all sorts of speakers in the last few months,” Cowart said. “I can’t believe that this isn’t contributing to some folks, mentally unwell or not, thinking that it’s OK to — to target Planned Parenthood or to target abortion providers.”
“The airwaves are full of anti-abortion language, of anti-Planned Parenthood accusations, much of which is false in nature,” she added. “We at Planned Parenthood are first and foremost a health care provider. We provide life-saving services to all kinds of folks, men and women, across our communities, and the tirades against Planned Parenthood in the last few months have really been over the top.”
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before Congress on Sept. 29 in the wake of allegations from an anti-abortion group claiming that a series of undercover videos allegedly show employees of the group discussing the distribution and sale of fetal tissue. Richards has strongly denied those allegations, also noting that only 3 percent of its overall services go to abortions.
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