Abortion violence’s deadly toll spans clinics, kitchen and church

Violence against doctors or clinics providing abortion services has claimed the lives of at least 11 people in the United States since 1993. Most were shot, though one was killed by a bomb. Four were doctors.

The most recent deaths came Friday, when a police officer, Garrett Swasey, and two civilians were gunned down in an attack on a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Police have not officially announced a motive for the attack, but the suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly said after his arrest: “No more baby parts” -- an apparent reference to a series of antiabortion videos released this summer that accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal body parts for profit. (Planned Parenthood denies the contention and six state investigations have exonerated the group, but at least 11 other states are investigating, as are congressional committees.)

The Colorado Springs incident was quickly condemned by groups on both sides of the abortion debate.

“While we don't know all the details of this horrific event, we know that it was an evil act, one condemned by pro-life Americans nationwide,” Charmaine Yoest, president of the antiabortion group Americans United for Life, said in a statement.

Here’s a look at those killed in attacks on clinics or abortion providers.

Dr. David Gunn

Killed: March 10, 1993

Pensacola, Fla.

Gunn, 47, became the first doctor in the U.S. killed during an antiabortion demonstration when he was shot three times in the back while outside a women’s clinic in Pensacola. Gunn was based in Eufaula, Ala., but traveled to clinics in Georgia, Florida and other parts of Alabama to perform abortions. Michael Griffin was convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence.

Dr. John Britton (Associated Press)

Dr. John Britton

Killed: July 29, 1994

Pensacola, Fla.

Britton, 69, and his volunteer driver and escort were shot in the head with a shotgun outside a Pensacola abortion clinic. Paul Hill, a former Christian minister convicted of the killings, once told a television audience, “I'm advocating the consistent theology of the Bible, and that is that we must protect innocent life.”

James Barrett was slain outside a Pensacola, Fla., abortion clinic in July 1994. (Associated Press)

James Barrett

Killed: July 29, 1994

Pensacola, Fla.

Barrett, 74, was gunned down along with Dr. John Britton by Paul Hill when they arrived at an abortion clinic in Pensacola. Barrett's wife, June, was injured but survived. Hill was executed by lethal injection on Sept. 3, 2003, becoming the first person put to death in the U.S. for killing an abortion provider.

Shannon Lowney was killed inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Mass., in 1994. (Associated Press)

Shannon Lowney

Killed: Dec. 30, 1994

Brookline, Mass.

Lowney, 25, a receptionist at the Boston Planned Parenthood Clinic, was one of two people fatally shot by John C. Salvi III during a rampage that targeted two clinics in Brookline, Mass. Five others were wounded. A judge rejected his lawyers’ arguments that he was insane and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Lee Ann Nichols (Associated Press)

Lee Ann Nichols

Killed: Dec. 30, 1994

Brookline, Mass.

Like Lowney, the 38-year-old Nichols was a clinic receptionist. As he opened fire on her and others, Salvi shouted, “This is what you get! You should pray the rosary!” He committed suicide in prison in 1996.

Felicia Sanderson, widow of Robert Sanderson, speaks at a courthouse in July 2005.(Charles Nesbitt / Associated Press)

Robert Sanderson

Killed: Jan. 29, 1998

Birmingham, Ala.

Sanderson, an off-duty police officer serving as a security guard at a Birmingham clinic, was killed and a nurse critically injured in the first fatal bombing of a U.S. abortion clinic. Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty to that incident and the bombings of an Atlanta abortion clinic, a lesbian nightclub and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Sanderson’s widow, Felicia, told a court she would “never forget the look on my son's face” when she told him his father was dead.

Dr. Barnett Slepian leaves Amherst town court in this 1989 photo. (James P. McCoy / Associated Press)

Dr. Barnett Slepian

Killed: Oct. 23, 1998

Amherst, N.Y.

James Kopp, armed with a high-powered rifle, shot Slepian, 52, while the doctor was sitting in his kitchen in upstate New York. Slepian, who had once said of critics, “The more that they come after me, the more I will dig in,” was killed only days after authorities had warned clinics of possible attacks. James Kopp was sentenced to 25 years to life. At sentencing he said, “I wish I could do 10 life sentences or 10 death penalties” to save the unborn.

Dr. George Tiller speaks at a rally at Tillers clinic in 2002. (Larry Smith / Associated Press)

Dr. George Tiller

Killed: May 31, 2009

Wichita, Kan.

Tiller, who performed late-term abortions, had received many threats over the years. His Wichita clinic was bombed in 1986; he was shot in both arms while outside the building in 1993. Tiller, 67, was fatally shot while standing in the foyer of his church. His killer, Scott Roeder, was sentenced to life in prison.

Officer Garrett Swasey was killed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. (Associated Press)

Garrett Swasey

Killed: Nov. 27, 2015

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Swasey, 44, a six-year veteran with the police department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, died Friday after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood office. Swasey was married and the father of two.

Jennifer Markovsky

Killed: Nov. 27, 2015

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Markovsky, 35, had accompanied a friend to the clinic, her father told the Denver Post. John Ah-King described his daughter as the mother of two and a kind and lovable person.

Ke'Arre Marcell Stewart

Killed: Nov. 27, 2015

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Stewart, 29, also was accompanying a friend to the clinic, family spokeswoman Amburh Butler told the Associated Press. Stewart was a military veteran who had served in Iraq and was the father of two daughters, Butler said. She last spoke to him on Thursday, when he sounded upbeat about spending Thanksgiving with friends, Butler said. “He was just a stand-up guy, he would take a bullet for you,” Butler said. “He was the most sincere person I'd ever met.”


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4:22 p.m.: This story has been updated with the name of the second civilian killed in the Colorado Springs attack.

This article was originally published at 2:40 p.m.