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Planned Parenthood to reassess security after Colorado attack

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Planned Parenthood was already on heightened alert against threats of violence this year after a storm of criticism from abortion opponents over how it handles the tissue of aborted fetuses used for medical research.

Now some affiliates of the reproductive health organization say they will scrutinize their security measures even further after a gunman’s deadly attack on one of the nonprofit’s clinics in Colorado on Friday.

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The key, they said, is balancing the need for a welcoming environment for patients while guarding against anti-abortion extremists who have carried out arsons, bombings and shootings on providers since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in 1973.

“We don’t want to militarize our health centers,” said Stephanie Kight, chief executive officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. “We’re trying to take a common sense approach to our security and not turn every single facility into a fortress.”

Three people were killed and nine injured when a gunman, identified by police as Robert Lewis Dear, 57, opened fire on Friday at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

None of the dead were employees at the health center. However, eight people have been killed in attacks linked to abortion opponents since 1993, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Authorities have refused to discuss a motive for the shooting in Colorado Springs. According to news reports citing unnamed law enforcement sources, Dear said “no more baby parts” during his arrest, an apparent reference to Planned Parenthood’s abortion activities and its role in delivering fetal tissue to medical researchers.

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The women’s healthcare provider has been under attack by conservatives since an anti-abortion group released secretly recorded videos last summer that it said showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood, which has denied any wrongdoing, said it had increased security over the last few months as “inflammatory rhetoric” about the organization intensified.

“While we do not disclose specific security measures, some health centers have increased patrols from dedicated security guards, while others have upgraded their monitoring systems,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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After Friday’s attack, Kight said she reminded her staff to be well-versed in their extensive safety protocols. The affiliate’s 20 health centers in Ohio already feature double vestibules and secured doors to control who can enter and some have “safe rooms” where staff could be locked in but still have access to outside communication, she said.

She said the next step will be to conduct a formal security audit to determine if tighter controls are warranted.

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Jennifer Aulwes, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, said health centers in those states also will review their security plans to ensure there are no gaps.

Health centers have seen an uptick in threats and protesters since the release of the covertly recorded videos, she said. The shooting will force them to double down on efforts regarding safety.

“This, I think, heightens our level of urgency about it,” she said.

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(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Editing by Frank McGurty and Chris Reese)


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BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble

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On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?

"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.

These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.

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Trump brings up Brett Kavanaugh in rage tweet at Democrats about coming impeachment trial

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On Saturday, President Donald Trump brought up Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a bizarre rant against the "Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems" and his anger over the direction of the impeachment process:

After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, @BrettKavanaugh, was treated by the Democrats, and now seeing first hand how these same Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems are treating the whole Impeachment Hoax, I understand why so many Dems are voting Republican!

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2020 Election

McConnell bluntly defends working with Trump to undermine impeachment: ‘We’re on the same side’

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Speaking in Kentucky on Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blithely blew off concerns about coordinating with Donald Trump's White House on how to handle the president's defense in the expected impeachment trial.

One day after admitting on Fox News that he was working hand-in-hand with the White House on impeachment tactics, McConnell was very blunt about his motivations when asked about his admission.

In a clip shared by MSNBC, the Senate leader was pressed about his plans.

"You told Sean Hannity last night you were coordinating with the White House when it comes to impeachment. Why is that appropriate?" McConnell was asked.

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