PPNNE facility vandalized; PPNNE blames “rhetoric”

I oppose violence at abortion facilities – whether against people or property (and people are incalculably more important), on the sidewalk or inside the building, inside or outside the procedure room, whether committed by a fly-by-night vandal or by someone with medical credentials.

Valley News of West Lebanon, New Hampshire and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England are reporting that PPNNE’s Claremont office was vandalized this week. [Note: link to article is broken as of 3/25/16.] A juvenile is reportedly in police custody in connection with the incident. According to Valley News, it remains to be seen if this is related to spray-paint vandalism on the outside wall of the same PPNNE facility earlier this month. PPNNE’s statement issued today expresses thanks to the Claremont Police Department for its increased surveillance, presumably prompted by the spray-paint incident. Thumbs up to the police.

Later in the statement, PPNNE vice-president for public policy Jennifer Frizzell brings out the dog whistle: “Unfortunately, this latest crime is a predictable ripple effect from the false and incendiary attacks from anti-abortion groups and politicians whose rhetoric fuel violence.” It was only a seven-paragraph press release. There apparently wasn’t room to elaborate on what constitutes a “false and incendiary attack”  and who in particular is engaging in violence-fueling “rhetoric.” The word “extremism” made it into the text as well. So the recent vandalism arose from … what?

Is  PPNNE implying that the Center for Medical Progress videos led to vandalism? Is the testimony of women who used to work at PP false or incendiary when those women speak of their own experience, as Sue Thayer did at a Congressional hearing earlier this month? Is it crossing a rhetorical line to argue that abortion providers have no business taking public money? Does PPNNE believe that projects like 40 Days for Life fuel violence? Is recognizing the humanity of a woman’s unborn child an extremist view? I didn’t say personhood – I know PP considers that extreme – I said “humanity.” How about it?

Is there any public expression of resistance to abortion that PPNNE does not find incendiary or extremist?

If so, its representatives haven’t made that clear. This reminds me of the New Hampshire House member who remarked during a hearing on the buffer zone bill that handing out a pamphlet outside an abortion facility could be an act of violence. Preposterous on its face, the statement drew no dispute from the PPNNE lobbyist seated nearby.

Blurring the difference between vandalism and nonviolent action serves to marginalize every expression of resistance to abortion. Maybe that’s the idea.

I’m glad the Claremont police are investigating the reported vandalism. Let the justice system take its course.

At the same time, I look forward to standing alongside increasing numbers of New Hampshire women and men in peaceful pro-life witness. It seems we have some neighbors who won’t distinguish peaceful demonstrations from violent threats to public safety. The solution to that problem won’t come from staying home for fear of being lumped together with a vandal.