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Dear Sarah Palin: A Giffords Cousin Speaks Out

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Written by Lynn Paltrow for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

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Dear Sarah Palin:

I am writing today about how you are responding to and how you will respond to the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murders of six other people.

By way of introduction and background, I am a cousin of Congresswoman Giffords. I am also an ally of Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas doctor who provided abortion services and who was assassinated on May 31, 2009.

When the Congresswoman’s offices were vandalized after her vote on healthcare reform, I wrote to her. As I recall, I congratulated her on her strong spirit in the face of that attack and other threats. I told her that I was proud of her courage on behalf of health care reform and sorry that she had to show the same courage as those who provide health care to pregnant women who need abortions and other reproductive health care services. Both have been the subjects of hateful, vitriolic language. Both have been put in rifle crosshairs.

In the aftermath of the murder of Dr. Tiller and the attempted murder of Congresswoman Giffords, many have spoken out about the role that hateful language played or might have played in encouraging these acts of violence. Immediately after Congresswoman Giffords was shot, many people voiced concern about such things as your " Take Back the 20" map targeting congressional districts of those representatives, including Congresswoman Giffords, who voted for health care reform by placing their districts in the crosshairs of a gun sight. Commentators have also noted your advice to people disappointed in the outcome of the 2008 elections to “lock and load” and “don’t retreat, reload.”

As I am sure you are now aware, Congresswoman Giffords herself had expressed concern about your map in particular. She said: “We need to realize that the rhetoric, and the firing people up and ... for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, we're in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize that there are consequences to that action...”

Your response so far, has been to defend the images and language you use. Read more