Why I’m a Freedom Rider for Women’s Lives...

August 2, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider

Because: Women’s lives MATTER. Women are HALF of HUMANITY, and deserve to be treated as full human beings in every sphere of society. When abortion, birth control, and scientific sex education are out of women’s reach, all of society is held down and slammed backward.

Because: There is a national assault on the right to abortion, and people have forgotten, or have never before heard, the truth about what happens to women’s bodies and lives when abortion is illegal. Women in Texas and other parts of the U.S. are already employing dangerous methods to induce abortion: black market drugs, sticking sharp objects like coat hangers and knitting needles into their vaginal canals, purposely getting into a fight or having someone beat them in the stomach, falling down stairs, all to avoid the shame and stigma of abortion or because they cannot access safe and legal abortion care. Without abortion, women will be forced to bear children EVERY single time they get pregnant, their lives foreclosed and shackled to the breeding and raising of children, their dreams crushed, their hopes betrayed. Young girls will all grow up in a society that teaches them that this is their future, and they won’t even BEGIN to dream of what they want to be, or what kind of world they want to live in when they grow up.

Because: LOOK, just look at all this stigma and shame, all this ignorance of women’s bodies and basic biology, all this SHAME that’s spewed at women just for having sex, and all this ignorance about the FACT that abortion is not shameful or tragic, that it's a safe, common, positive and liberating medical procedure… look at all these fucked-up laws, ideas, and culture that keeps women locked into these desperate measures! These life and death measures!

Because: What is happening with abortion rights is a fucking emergency. We are RAPIDLY LOSING the right to abortion; and the anti-abortion movement, which wants to see women enslaved through forced motherhood and traditional patriarchal relations, is WINNING. But this does NOT have to continue to be the case, we can fight against these assaults, and fight to actually WIN, instead of becoming numb and sinking deeper into denial about how MUCH of a national emergency this really is.

Because: The Democrats and the courts are not able or willing to tell the TRUTH about what it means for women and for society when abortion is illegal. But we can, and we WILL tell the truth, and unleash others to tell the truth. And we will deliver the verdicts of the People’s Hearings to the individuals and institutions that are worthy of indictment for the way they are attacking abortion rights. Criminalizing abortion MURDERS women.

Because: This system is not just stripping this right from women, they are criminalizing abortion. Which means that heroic abortion providers could be faced with criminal charges, women who induce abortion or turn to back-alley abortions would be imprisoned, and women who miscarry due to addiction issues would be charged with murder. THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING.

Because: At the same time that the system is brutally stripping women of the right to abortion and birth control, the rulers of this system proclaim all the time that “Equality for women has been won. There are no limits to what girls can achieve.”

But this is BULLSHIT.

If women have achieved equality, than why is it that every fifteen seconds a woman is beaten? Why is it that EVERY DAY 3-4 women are killed by their partners? Why is it that one out of four female college students is raped or sexually assaulted?

We need to raise our sights to a righteous and just vision of what it would mean if women were free. We need to think about women being able to walk around without the fear and shame of street harassment, assault, and rape! Where women are seen as full human beings, capable of participation in every sphere of society.

Because: We need a world where women have the ability to get an abortion, EASILY without traveling hundreds of miles, having to endure waiting periods and parental consent laws, having to brave woman-hating anti-abortion groups and the horrific things that they tell women going to the clinic. And without providers being mandated by the state to tell unscientific LIES to the women seeking abortion, being called a murderer and targeted for murder by antis that have been unleashed in a whole atmosphere of hatred toward providers, where they have been harassed, physically assaulted, shot, and yes, KILLED.

Because: Abortion providers are HEROES who every day face unrelenting bullshit, threat to their lives, and even their families’ lives, in order to give women this liberating service. They too need a mass movement that recognizes and appreciates the risks they take, and the work that they do. They need a movement that is unashamedly fighting for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. We need providers to be able to provide abortion care…and on this trajectory many of them will close their clinic(s), will be criminalized and maybe even imprisoned. How long will providers be able to keep going on ever (and alarmingly) shrinking ground?

Because: On a more personal note, I am sick to death of hearing heart-breaking stories of women being raped, being treated like children and property, being systematically denied and stripped of their humanity, dignity, and ability to determine the direction and content of their lives.

Last year at the beginning of the ride, a close friend called me, told me that she had just found out that her classmate from high school had committed suicide. This was a woman who had been raped, struggled with addiction and eating disorders, and tried to be perfect. My friend knew immediately, and told me through her tears, that the ongoing effects of patriarchy are what really destroyed her friend. While on the ride, I visited my mom and she told me of a relative’s suicide attempt. I know this woman was in an emotionally and possibly physically abusive marriage, and was still dealing with the divorce. She had tried several times to seek professional help, and no one listened, until she attempted suicide. The details devastated me. At the same time I learned of this woman’s suicide attempt, I was learning about what teenage women do to get rid of unwanted pregnancy: they get into fist fights, to have someone beat them in the stomach so they might miscarry, they “fall” down stairs. These young women saw potential self-destruction as preferable to getting an abortion…

When I was 17, I felt trapped, and at that time I couldn’t have told you why. I felt wrong, awkward, ashamed, and petulant. I felt the world would be better off if I had not been born at all, I fantasized about suicide, I tried very hard to be invisible, it felt like the only way to survive. I think I was right about that…at the same time my silence was also slowly killing me. I thought about the suicides of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, what their lives were like. I learned to write poetry…it eased the pain and isolation of living.

When I was a teenager, I watched horrible things happen to my female friends. One friend went to live with her uncle…. he took her out of school, held her hostage, trafficked her across the country, and raped her repeatedly. It wasn’t until other relatives came with a gun to his door that she was able to get out of his clutches. I’m sure this has scarred her very deeply, she was institutionalized for an entire year after this happened. Two other friends got pregnant when they were 17, and I watched them be forced into having those children… they never talked about getting an abortion, and I don’t think that they really thought they had a choice about whether or not they would be mothers. One of them was in an extremely abusive relationship and didn’t/couldn’t leave for herself, she left because she realized he could kill her daughter. She fled across several states to get away…and even after that his parents found her and tried to kidnap her daughter. They had to move again.

This is the oppression of women…. It has happened to me, to my friends, to women in my family, to every woman that I know, and every woman in the world, and it's because of the system that we live under. That feeling of being trapped is often times real, and the self-hatred that women feel, and the wanting to not exist, this is because of the world we live in, because of how women are hated, NOT because women are worthy of hatred. We have to turn these internalized feelings inside out. We have to shatter the isolation, and the silence that we’ve been conditioned to, because women are dying. Because women are blaming themselves for the crimes committed against them, and their lives are being destroyed, and because this is so cruel, and so unnecessary!

Without legal abortion and access to abortion care, that feeling of isolation, silence, and terror will be even more the daily landscape that women inhabit. Suicide and death will look to many women, as it did to me when I was 17, as possibly the only way out. And women will die in greater numbers than they already are. Women will be conditioned or forced into lives not of their choosing, through the imposition of forced motherhood, every single time they get pregnant. Falling in love will again become dangerous and potentially deadly. This is unacceptable. This is intolerable. Anyone with a shred of conscience should be horrified, anyone with a shred of morality will see that this is wrong. We need to get together, we need to reverse this abortion rights emergency, and fight like hell for women to be free. We are not alone, and we can, we MUST do this together!


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