Days after a shooter at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado killed three people, Gov. Dannel Malloy visited the organization’s Connecticut headquarters Monday morning in a show of support.
Malloy — who met with Judy Tabar, the president and Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England — said his visit to the clinic was intended to demonstrate solidarity with the organization, given the shooting and the recent verbal attacks Planned Parenthood has born from conservative politicians across the nation. Such partisan attacks, Malloy said, bear some responsibility for inciting acts of violence like the one in Colorado. He added that this year there has been a “frontal attack” on Planned Parenthood.
“The rhetoric around Planned Parenthood has been disgraceful, and, I think, not unintentionally inciteful, not because it’s deep, but because they’re trying to incite people,” Malloy said. “What transpired in Colorado is disturbing to any right-thinking individual.”
The Whitney Ave. building — Planned Parenthood’s Southern New England headquarters — employs roughly 60 people, Tabar said, adding that the facility provides vital resources for women’s health that often cannot be found elsewhere.
Tabar said Planned Parenthood, which serves 60,000 patients annually in Connecticut, has no plans to suspend activity at the New Haven clinic in light of the Colorado shootings. She said the organization has not altered its operating schedule at any point after the shooting, which many around the country have described as an act of terrorism.
Tabar added that the New Haven location had “strong security measures” even before the shooting and that the facility’s staff is routinely trained to deal with dangerous situations.
“This was a terrible tragedy — our hearts go out to the families of the loved ones who were lost,” she said. “It’s a difficult time, and yet we’re back at work. We were back at work Saturday morning seeing patients. We’re healthcare providers, and our patients count on us.”
Tabar said the New Haven facility sees roughly 8,000 patients each year across a total of 12,000 visits, making it one of the busier branches in the state. She said the services Planned Parenthood provides extend far beyond the abortion operations for which it has garnered criticism — many patients, she said, come to the facility for potentially life-saving screenings for breast and cervical cancer.
Malloy had harsh words for politicians across the nation calling to defund Planned Parenthood or otherwise reduce access to its services.
“What we have is individuals who would use their own belief system … and then use distorted information to try to deny women in our country access to good healthcare,” he said. “It’s wrong, it’s got to stop, and folks who are using this kind of rhetoric should be punished at the ballot box.”
Malloy, who has supported Planned Parenthood throughout his political career, said the vast majority of services the organization provides focus on health issues unrelated to abortion and cater to people of all genders.
Political leaders in Connecticut and the New Haven area have traditionally been supportive of Planned Parenthood and its services. U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents New Haven County, has made women’s health issues a centerpiece of her quarter century in office.
DeLauro sent an October letter to former House Speaker John Boehner calling on him to stop House investigations into alleged illegality at Planned Parenthood after videos surfaced that appeared to show Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the selling of fetal parts. In the letter, DeLauro said Planned Parenthood was “the victim of an entrapment scheme,” devised by political opponents aiming to reduce access to crucial health services.
Planned Parenthood has 17 locations in Connecticut.