ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The national head of Planned Parenthood both mourned with and rallied supporters in Colorado on Saturday before meeting quietly with workers credited for saving lives in last week's shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, read the names of the three people killed in the Nov. 27 shooting and thanked the Colorado Springs workers, who were seated in the front of the audience in a suburban Denver church.
"What happened in Colorado broke our hearts and steeled our spines," Richards told a crowd of about 400, most of them women wearing bright pink like herself.
It was one of many events planned by the organization across the country, including one in Washington, D.C., to honor the shooting victims and also speak out against threats and violence against the work it does.
Richards drew loud applause when she said it was time to end violence against women and the doctors and other health care workers who care for them.
"Enough is enough," she said.
The Colorado Springs clinic is still closed, but Richards praised the regional chapter of Planned Parenthood for reopening all of its other locations the day after the shooting and inspiring other chapters across the country. She also read messages of support from people offering to volunteer and work at the organization because they were so upset by the shooting and read a statement of support from President Obama, which noted that no woman or American should fear violence when seeking health care.
Before meeting privately with the Colorado Springs workers, Richards said she did not have a particular message for them other than just being there to support them.
"This is a just a moment that has rocked all of our worlds in a way that it's important for us to spend time together and to heal," she said.
Last week, Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the receptionist at the Colorado Springs clinic heard shots being fired outside the building and warned those inside to get away from the entrance. Some spent the attack hiding inside the clinic but many details, including a timeline of the attack, have not been released by police.
What is known is that none of the clinic workers or patients were hurt.
Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer, was shot after rushing to the campus to help. The other two victims — Ke'Arre Stewart, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, and Jennifer Markovsky, 36, a mother of two originally from Hawaii — were both accompanying friends to the clinic and it's not clear where they were when they were killed.
Cowart said Saturday that the clinic is still a crime scene, but she vowed to reopen it as soon as staffers are allowed back inside and repairs are made.
She also told the crowd that some anti-abortion protesters taunted staffers in Denver about the shooting when they went to work the following day.
"We will not accept this as normal," she said to applause.