Doctors, nurses, clinic owners, workers and escorts--people on the frontlines in the battle to defend abortion rights. Every day, they face vicious threats and harassment. Forced to wear bullet-proof vests. Subjected to death threats. Vilified and isolated by a reactionary climate.
They don't get the appreciation they deserve. They don't get the support they need. It's a situation that's intolerable. It's a situation that must change.
On October 26, people around the country will honor the courageous fighters who give women choice.
The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers is a day that is so urgently needed--but it's never been done before. It concentrates a lot about the struggle for women's reproductive rights--bridging the gap between providers and activists, helping to unify providers, and rallying people from all walks of life to stand in solidarity with those who are literally putting their lives on the line every day so that women have the right to choose.
A salute to those on the frontlines. We pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with you. We will defend you against attack. We will put an end to your isolation. You are much appreciated and much needed in the continuing struggle.
What keeps abortion providers doing what they do? After six murders, five other shootings, countless death threats and daily harassment?
Some of them remember what it was like for women when abortion was illegal. Desperate and alone, women ended up at the mercy of back-alley butchers. Many ended up maimed. Many ended up dead. A woman, clutching herself, bleeding to death--the image keeps the commitment strong: "Never again."
They must summon courage just to go to work each day. But they know that without the right to choose, many women's lives are ruined. They know enforced motherhood is a recipe for crushed dreams.
When a young woman takes a six-hour bus ride to see them, they know they are needed. When a desperate teenager comes through their doors, they know their work is important. When a woman with nowhere else to turn asks them for help, they know they must continue.
Like KKK night-riders, armies of anti-abortionists descend on clinics and issue death threats. Like the racists who burn Black churches, they have put clinics under a state of siege. And these Christian fascists are familiar to other sections of the people who have been under attack. The shocktroops mobilized to attack abortion clinics are also a hard-core base of support for a whole program of repressive measures which includes racist campaigns to criminalize Black and Latino youth, attacks on immigrants; and the massive expansion of police brutality and murder in poor communities. It is all one attack.
These depraved forces who preach traditional anti-women rhetoric are supported from the highest offices in the land. And they are protected and allowed to run amok by police and courts. Only the strength of the masses has been able to beat them back at the clinic doors. Only the power of the people can stop them from their vicious assault on abortion providers.
October 26 is a day to begin to turn the tide.
Standing in solidarity with abortion providers is a key part of beating back the attacks. Building unity and support among abortion providers is an important part of preventing more shootings and deaths. A day to put forward the spirit of "Abortion without apology!" is necessary to counter the unscientific lie that "fetuses are babies"--and free women from the chains of ignorance, superstition and confusion.
This struggle around abortion will impact on the struggle of the people as a whole. Without reproductive rights women will not be free to equally and fully participate in society. And from a revolutionary standpoint, this is a very serious and important matter. We know it will take a struggle of millions to battle and defeat this system and build a new society. But this isn't going to happen if half the people are enslaved by tradition's chains.
A woman must be free to participate fully in society--and in the struggle to bring about a new world. No woman should feel guilty about terminating an unwanted pregnancy --for whatever reasons.
A woman forced to bear a child against her will is assaulted and degraded in both body and spirit. Forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy is cruel and sadistic. Like rape, banning abortion is a violent assertion of male domination and male supremacist society over women. It is the forceful and violent control of women's bodies, in the most personal dimensions. When the state takes away the right to choose, it is suppressing women by force of law and the state. This is nothing less than institutionalized violence against women.
Debating whether women should have the right to abortion is like debating whether Black people should have the right not to be slaves. That's how fundamental this question is.
A woman who can decide whether and when to have children will be stronger, more independent and better able to deal with the world and contribute to society. She will be better able to lift up her head, better able to dream and visualize the way the world could be. And she will be better able to act to realize these dreams. Stronger women make stronger fighters, for themselves, for their children, for all the women, men, and children everywhere who want to end oppression.