From Stop Patriarchy

On the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas

August 31, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


August 7. A fellow freedom rider recently said “we did not choose to be here at this time, we had to be here at this time.” All my life I’ve heard why it is important, why it is crucial for abortion to remain safe, legal, and easily accessible. That’s important, “accessible.” We’re up against forces who give absolutely none of the fucks if abortion is legal as long as not a single woman is getting an abortion. A legal abortion, that is. Women will continue to get abortions—women always have and always will need to regulate their reproduction for different reasons.

Watch the Austin People's Hearing, August 6, 2014

The thing is, you come to the antis with different information, different facts. 47,000 women die in the world each year from illegal abortion, at least 5,000 women died in the United States each year from illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade in 1973, 1 in 3 women will get an abortion in the course of her life. You tell them a baby is not a consequence, that the only good reason to have a baby is because it is wanted, because it will be cared for and loved. You tell them embryos and fetuses are NOT babies. You ask them what society does, what “pro-life” organizations do for the babies who are born—the then children who go hungry, the ones who live in war-zones, who cannot access a good education, who cannot be free of the cycle of poverty they were born into.

You talk about a woman’s dreams, aspirations, hopes and goals. I tell them that if I were raped tomorrow and were to get pregnant from my rapist, putting my college education on hold to bring to life the child of my rapist, having to live every day with the knowledge that the thing growing inside me was the product of a violation, I would be miserable. I get the response that it is also half my baby. It’s half my embryo not baby, but regardless, so fucking what? But you know what? Even if it wasn’t my rapist. Even if it had been the product of great sex one night and something happened. Even if it had been a mistake. The truth is that if the State, if the church, if anybody at all mandates what we can or cannot do with our bodies, if we are forced by law or by circumstance to have our bodies borrowed, our lives put on pause as the world keeps spinning, we stay behind, watching, left in the dark, as we watch everything move forward without us. All for something we do not want, cannot care for or do not have the means to support.

Rationalizing is useless: “Abortion is murder!” “If a woman is having sex, even if she is using birth control, she should be prepared for the consequences.” And so far the one that succeeded in leaving me speechless for a moment, in response to the number of 47,000 women dying a year from illegal abortions: “well, those women shouldn’t get abortions.” That will to rule over somebody else’s body is completely preposterous, it is unacceptable, unjust, inexcusable—and it is what the courts are currently ruling on.

The thing is, though, that even keeping all of these things in mind, these statistics and numbers, last night’s People’s Hearing was incredibly moving (people’s hearing in Austin, TX, on August 6). Some of the stories told were terrible, strengthening and liberating. Women who were raped, frightened, shamed, or simply were not ready to have a child. It brought to life how necessary this movement is. But furthermore it made me realize how lucky I’ve been in the course of my life. I was brought up in a very liberal, even radical household. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have sex when I wanted to, or tried to determine what type of person that would eventually be. Abortion was never stigmatized as something bad, and in fact when I did have sex with a guy who was “pro-life” I made it very clear that if anything ever happened I was absolutely getting an abortion. There has never been any doubt in my mind that if I ever have kids it will be when I want to and can, not as a consequence of getting pregnant, that’s a terrible reason to have a child. However, this mentality shows how privileged I am, I don’t feel brave or courageous going out into the street and yelling “Without this basic right, women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology!” at the top of my lungs. My friends and family support the entire idea of the Freedom Ride and I see it as something imperative, something I will gladly put my life on the line for. Because if we do not act now, if we do not fight now at this pivotal moment in history, the blood and memory of these women will be on our hands—on all of our hands. The antis, the people fighting, the powerful people in the courts and the political institutions and on the people who pass by giving a thumbs up or a high five but not stopping. Here’s a challenge to listen to these women’s stories and act. Act now, spread word and spread it far, speak up and speak out loud, fight back and fight back like lives depend on it, because they do.

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