Day 4 In DC:

Fighting for Abortion On Demand And Confronting People with the Real Truth On All This

By Sunsara Taylor | January 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


We've been out on the street as much as the weather will allow—fingers and toes become painful and then numb within half an hour in this subfreezing weather, even with those amazing toe and hand warmers.

Day 4 in DC, out defending Planned Parenthood and counter protesting the lunatic anti-abortion Christian fascists

Day 4 in DC, out defending Planned Parenthood and counter protesting the lunatic anti-abortion Christian fascists

Yesterday, after our crew had counter-protested the anti-abortion fanatics at the local Planned Parenthood (shamefully, Planned Parenthood staff came out and insisted that our side stay away—a request we ignored because of how unconscionable it is to allow the Christian fascists to stand unopposed!), we went out to a college campus. We were decked out in bright stickers and signs sticking out of our backpacks which read, “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!”

The response from the students was mixed but overall very positive. A handful of students were vehemently anti-abortion and refused to stop. But a good number of those who began by saying they were against abortion were quick to add that they understood there are sometimes circumstances that makes it necessary. We never found this satisfactory and we never left things at this. “Do you realize that right now it is very difficult for millions of women to get an abortion? 97% of rural counties in this country do not have an abortion provider. Doctors have been killed and women are being shamed. The truth is women who cannot decide for themselves when and whether to have a child have no more freedom than slaves.” This would usually get people really tuned in—most people don't know any of this. People have the misconception that abortion is somehow widely available and over-used.

After jolting people as to what the reality is, we would go further still. “Fetuses are not babies. They are a subordinate part of a woman's body. Because of this, abortion is not murder and there is nothing wrong with it. It is a perfectly moral and responsible decision to get an abortion if a woman wants one.” This would open up discussion in a very deep way. No one we have talked to has yet heard anything like this. People asked a lot of questions and we would provide answers. The truth is, not everyone who began inclined against abortion got won over in the course of these conversations, but a lot did! Especially among young people, young men as well as young women.

There were also a great number of people who were incredibly supportive and happy to see us out. They thanked us as they walked by, saying things like, “I am with you!” The notion that is being widely promoted by the anti-abortion forces this week, the notion that this new generation is the “Pro-Life Generation” is a fucking lie. This is one thing we are seeing face to face and close up in every outing we have. But, it is also the case that the anti-abortion elements of this generation are far more mobilized and energized than the greater portion that supports the right to abortion. And, it is clearly the case that—owing not only to the vigorous fight that has been waged by Christian fascists to demonize and restrict abortion over decades, but also to the craven capitulation to this fight and its terms by the official “pro-choice” movement—most people who support the right to abortion still think of it as something that ought to be avoided because on some level it is wrong.

High school students on civics tour at Supreme Court join in
At the Supreme Court on January 22 some high school students from a bus on a civics tour joined in.

This is why we would spend so much time arguing with people—even those who agreed in the main. And then there was the ongoing challenge of fighting for people to see the need to ACT. To join in a movement that is fighting to end all forms of enslavement and degradation of women. It really is not enough to support the right to abortion, in a society where that right is being taken away if you are not fighting to defend and expand access and to destigmatize abortion and to defend providers, you are allowing this right to disappear.

Many people were very curious as to what we thought was needed and this opened up a lot of debate over whether it does anything to “vote pro-choice” or whether we need to be resisting. In these debates, for many of us, it often opened up into a bigger (and very controversial) discussion of just how criminal the whole program and impact of Obama's presidency (and the Democrats more broadly) is—from the killer drones to the continuation of torture at Guantanamo to the blaming of Black youth for their oppressed conditions as prisons and police continue to steal the lives of millions to record numbers of deportations and a whole program of capitulation and “common ground” with the attacks on abortion. I and a few others with this crew have been promoting the need for an actual revolution—the way that it has been reenvisioned and is being led by Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party. We've been getting out Revolution Newspaper to folks who really hear us when we challenge them in this way.

One of our volunteers has continually made the point to us, in our informal discussions and time spent with each other, that up until just a few weeks ago she herself was “pro-life.” She had never heard what people like us are saying. She has actually stressed this in relation to the revolution as a whole—the real history of this system and the real meaning of slavery (nothing like the half a page and half a day spent on it in high school!), the real role of the police in enforcing an unjust and exploitative order, the role of the US around the world in waging unjust wars, and the possibility of a whole different world. She keeps repeating, “I know I am only twenty-one, but I should have known about this a long time ago. All this has been kept from me.” She is so right—and this has been one of our big reminders of why it is so essential for us to keep going out very, very broadly to the masses of people with the message that this world is intolerable and we do not have to live this way and what kind of struggle is needed to turn this tide and ultimately bring about a whole different and far better world.

Last night a bunch of us listened to the most recent installment of Michael Slate's interview with Bob Avakian and got into a very deep discussion about a lot of this—about how an actual revolution could come about, whether that is really necessary, what is the truth about the first wave of communist revolution, why this was defeated and what should be learned from that, the impact it would have on society to spread BA Everywhere especially in terms of lifting people's sights and inspiring them with the possibility of a different world and the desire to fight for it, and many other big questions. All of this wrangling is pulsing through our time here—with different people bringing in their own understandings, but engaging with an open mind and deepening our common commitment to go out and fight for others to take up this struggle for the liberation of women.

We have, of course, run into people who argue ferociously against abortion in all circumstances and one of the most noteworthy things about these people is how extremely crude their negative views of women are. We have heard so much derision against women for “spreading their legs” and so much cruelty and straight up bigotry from people who insist that the woman's life really doesn't matter, that it is her duty to bring to term every pregnancy and raise children. That to not raise children as her main desire in life is “selfish.” That “feminists made up the desire for abortion because they were selfish and wanted the same rights as men.” We have heard so much backwardness—and the truth is this is all the backwardness and judgment that piles on the heads of women every day, women who have sex, women who have abortions, women who are raped, women who try to walk down the street and cannot without being treated like a piece of meat or a piece of garbage.

Even if you don't acknowledge it, even if you are one of those people who can sometimes avoid interacting with this most crude shit, it is out there and it is pervasive and it is unabashed and it is crushing the lives of so many women and it is part of the weight sitting on all women.

One woman we encountered who was filled with a lot of this backwardness on this campus yesterday was insisting that women bring their pregnancies to term and give the baby up for adoption. The volunteer who had been arguing with her for a while up till then finally just lost her temper, “Do you realize what that does to a woman or a girl, to her body, to how much suffering she has to go through, through how much judgment and stigma that is put on her, and then to have to make a baby and give it away? Do you know how cruel that is? And besides, how is that good for a baby. Get real. I know what happens in the foster system—those babies go into families where they are raped and molested, abused and neglected, and no one cares about them and they suffer all this shit and the whole time they are thinking they deserved it because even their own parents don't want them. Then they end up running away and they end up getting pimped out as prostitutes or pimped out into porn—all of this destroying their own lives and making more of this shit culture that destroys the lives of other women. This is so wrong I cannot even talk to you!”

I, of course, am paraphrasing—but I am capturing the basic content and spirit. But I regret you cannot hear her say it herself. She is usually pretty quiet, but each day out here she—like all the volunteers—has been getting sharper in her arguments and bolder in her convictions. It seems to me she probably knows people who have had experiences like she described—and certainly this is true to what goes on. I am so proud of the crew who is here, and so deeply impressed by them. And they are getting more impressive by the day!

Another young woman spoke to me for a while out on this campus. She asked a bunch of questions and listened to my description of why this battle is so essential and why she should get involved. After a while she got quieter and said, “Can I ask you something... I feel like I can talk to you.” I said, “Go ahead,” and she then confided in me that she is pregnant and really scared. She hasn't told anyone yet—myself as a stranger on the street was the first person she felt she could talk to about this. That tells you something so damning right there about this culture and the reality for women, even while abortion is still legal. She explained how she really couldn't have a baby right now, she had just transferred to this better school and wanted to play soccer and finish school, but she can't tell her family and doesn't know many people up here yet. She asked if I would go with her to get an abortion. I explained that I would if I could but I won't be in town after two more days, but I would be happy to talk with her about it and assist her in finding a good clinic and helping her figure out how to talk to someone else.

I told her, and it seemed she really, really needed to hear this from someone, that she had no obligation to have a baby. Being pregnant is NOT a good reason to have a child. Having birth control fail or getting carried away and not using birth control or any set of circumstances is NOT a good reason to have a baby. The ONLY good reason to have a child is because you really want one and are ready to care for one. NOT because you are pregnant. I also told her that having an abortion IS taking responsibility. It is fine and moral and she knows what is right for her. She took a bunch of deep breaths and smiled at me. I will be calling her. But, again, listen up all you people out there—there are women out there right now who desperately need us to defend, expand and de-stigmatize this right!

We have more big things we are under way with and I have to, once again, get running. I do want to note that we have been wrestling with and promoting among people the need to see the fight for abortion rights as one essential part of a larger fight—for the full liberation of women. This is connected to the global epidemic of rape, of violence against women, of pornography and objectification of women, and much more. As one woman told us, “I never thought of myself as enslaved, but I am beginning to see what you mean.” Reporting more fully on this—both its impact out on the street and the wrangling and transformation of our crew here around our deepening understanding of this—will have to wait.

Off to do great things today. With a core of people about whom, as one of them put it last night after an in depth discussion preparing for our emergency summit on Saturday, “It is really amazing how much knowledge and passion and direction and understanding we have in this small group of us.” A group like this, when acting on a faultline as deep as the oppression of women, really can break open struggle on a scale unlike any we've seen in decades. Can't wait—off to make it happen!


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