Posts Tagged prochoice

Walking4Choice in 60+Cities

Photos from Walk for Choice

New York City: I went on the very fast Walk that zoomed up Broadway from Foley Square, around Washington Square Park and back down in a little over an hour.  There were 101 people — I counted, with 2 older than me, and about 70% women under 25, a few younger guys.  They wanted to walk & scream with their home made signs.  They did really loud whoops under awnings that got attention, and generally favorable comments.  People wanted to talk to me about my sign, but we didn’t have time to stop and talk to anyone if we wanted to keep up.  The main chants they did were “We Have A Choice! We Have a Voice!”  and “What do you want? Choice! When do you want it? Now!”

Keep Your Boehner Away from My Body

Keep Your Boehner Away from My Body

Lots of spontaneous energy.  I would say the dominant sentiment was outrage — they can’t do this; we won’t let them.  A lot was attributed to Republicans being in power.  Those in the lead said they heard about it on tumblr.  I didn’t know anyone from that 100.

When we returned from the Walk, THE Planned Parenthood started. About 4,000 people came, mostly younger women.  Some of the union activists
and leftists from the “Save the American Dream” rally a few blocks away, which was also several thousand, joined in.  Most of the speakers were politicians, local, state and national.

The message was don’t cut funding for women’s health, Title X and PPFA.  Kathleen Turner spoke, but I missed her.  Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill talked about getting care at PP in Chicago in 1989.  Amanda Marcotte talked about her #thanksPPFA campaign on Twitter.

My sign (written by Richie M) was well received — probably 200 people took photos.  Memo to Congress, advertisers, and so-called pro “life”ers:

The most DANGEROUS place for a WOMAN is a country without ABORTION and BIRTH CONTROL.  worldcantwait.net

The most dangerous place...

Reports from other areas:

Chicago: I estimated 400 to 500 people, overwhelmingly under 30 years of age, very unapologetic. The weather was awful, snow and cold, and got worse as the afternoon went on. I know several of my older friends couldn’t come because of it. Lina can describe the one older woman who tried to tell them they shouldn’t say “abortion” – keep the rhetoric at “choice” – they weren’t buying it!

One woman, about 30 years old, made her sign, “Planned Parenthood saved my life.”  She said she was 20 years old; her Christian fundamentalist father drove her to the clinic, paid for her abortion, while her mother still hasn’t forgiven her.  She told me that one middle aged woman who was watching from the sidelines, came up to her, pointed to her sign, said “me too” and walked away.

Many creative signs, including one that said, “You screw us, we’ll multiply, and you’ll be in real trouble.”  Another young woman made this sign; it looked like a cartoon cell, with a woman in a bathing suit coming out of a body of water, with words, “I’m tired of swimming in a patriarchal sea.”  The two banners – Abortion Providers Save Women’s Lives and Abortion on Demand & Without Apology – brought by World Can’t Wait were the backdrop for the rally.

There were young women dressed for the occasion in bright orange, some with flowing skirts over their jeans, and this contributed to the mood of joyous determination.  Another woman had an outrageous huge wig of many colors, shaped like the hair of a pharoah — she said in honor of the Egyptian people.

A number of young women I spoke with thanked us veterans for continuing the battle for reproductive rights.

At the rally, one of the loudest cheers went up for the contingent from Medical Students for Choice from the medical school at U of I-Chicago.  One of the female medical students told the crowd of her abortion 3 weeks ago that was safe, with proper pain medication, and support from her pro-choice friends.  She pointed out that she became pregnant when she was using an IUD.

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

Chicago

[from another report] I was most struck by was the young people in the march. It was overwhelmingly young and they were not afraid to say exactly how they felt, whereas I felt some of the older people were too tempered or bothered by the frankness of the youth.

Seeing the youth among the crowd made me think of how hard we have worked to get youth to take the lead of a movement of resistance. I really saw the potential in this today…not just with standing up for Women’s Rights to abortion and birth control but, really taking the lead in demanding an end to wars/occupations and torture…so when I had the opportunity, I tied the oppression of women into the overall oppression of humanity in the wars/occupations and torture.  Many of the crowd were I think acutely aware of the need for consistent visible resistance and when Lina and I spoke of Egypt and Libya  and all the countries that are rising up against oppression they understood it…still though there was a tendency among some of the crowd to put the blame solely on the right wing fascist rather than looking at the fact that the Democrats don’t act in the interest of women either when they seek to find common ground with the antis…but we addressed this over and over and emphasized this why people had to take responsibility for fighting these viscous onslaughts and when we did most of the crowd got it and agreed. It was a really great day!

Champaign-Urbana, IL: We also had a Walk for Choice yesterday! Like the other walks, ours was also mostly all young women. On Monday, I met with the Gender Action Network (student organizers at the University of Illinois who have feminist student groups, such as NOW, Feminist Majority, etc.), and they said it was too late to get a Walk for Choice organized. However, I launched a Facebook invite on Tuesday and we did it!

Champaign Urbana Walk for Choice

Photo and report from Heather Ault (4000yearsforchoice.com)

On Friday evening, four young women (three who were sophomores from a sorority on campus) joined me in making banners and signs in the basement of the English Building on campus. The “sisters” shared that they didn’t talk politics in their sorority because it was too controversial, but they each
identified as liberal, had very progressive moms, and were concerned about Planned Parenthood.

The day of the walk, about 20 people came out – all women students (+two guys) plus two young non-students and one woman who was a counselor on campus who worked with students on sexuality issues. We met at Planned Parenthood on the sidewalk (which is located one block from campus). We read aloud summaries of each of the bills (HR358, HR3, HR217, South Dakota HB1171, and Georgia HB1). I thought this would be helpful to us in learning exactly what these bills said. We did a ceremonial “boooo” after each one. We also read a list of all the services PP provides and cheered.

We walked around Champaign, through the restaurant and bar district, over to campus, and back to PP again and chanted from a list of rally chants I found online (there were about 20 good ones!) About half-way through, I gave the megaphone over to the president of NOW and this gal did an amazing job! This was also my first time with a bullhorn, so I was a bit nervous (but the old high school cheerleader in me kicked in!) We had lots of waves and supportive honks during the walk!

At the end, we stood in front of PP and formally introduced ourselves and described how we could keep in touch (names of student groups, organizations we work with, etc.) The overall feeling was – YES! Let’s keep doing this!!! If we weren’t standing out in the cold, we could have hung out a while and chatted. There was the feeling of, is it over already!? So, it was a lingering departure.

Also, Planned Parenthood of Champaign recently put up a banner on their building reading “Stand with Planned Parenthood” and a number to text a message. I thought this was pretty interesting! Good for them, it’s time to bring it local and I think they are changing their tune.

Honolulu

Honolulu

Honolulu: Two organizations called for protests on Saturday noon at the State Capitol.  One, a rally and march to support the protests in Wisconsin was called by MoveOn.  A second rally and march was called by Planned Parenthood as part of the national “Walk for Choice.”

World Can’t Wait responded to the call made by Planned Parenthood and came to the Capitol with lots of Pro-Choice signs and banners  It was a good thing we did, because many Pro-Choice supporters hadn’t made their own signs, and picked up one of ours.  We have often brought banners and signs saying “Abortion on Demand, and Without Apology” to events, and people have generally backed off from carrying them – and have often expressed their disagreement with the slogan.  This time the slogan was welcomed.   The Planned Parenthood CEO gave us a thumbs-up as soon as she saw it. Two youth who had never met us before picked up another.

More than 150 people came to support the unions; about 50 to support a women’s right to choose.  The two groups merged the rallies, first one person from one group taking the mic, and then someone from the other group.   Liz Rees, spokesperson for World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i, gave one of the three talks supporting reproductive rights and received repeated applause.  She was the only one to boldly speak out for abortion, and to link the “Walk for Choice” with national events to defend the right to abortion.  Her call to be bold, and to refuse to compromise on a women’s right to choose was met with resounding approval.   For those who had come to support the unions, this may have been the first time they’d heard such a talk, and many people approached Liz after the rally to thank her.

The march was even more confusing than the rally, with pro-choice signs mixed in with a variety of signs reading everying from “Defend the American Dream” to “Defend Unions” and “Kill the Bill”.  A passer-by along the way obviously understood the pro-choice signs, but then asked why we were marching for civil unions, when the governor had signed the bill granting civil unions last week.    While the merging of the two groups was confusing to some, others linked the tea party attacks against both organized labor and choice.

In spite of the confusion, getting out more than 200 people on the Honolulu streets with less than 3 days notice was remarkable, and there seemed to be a renewed sense that the need for resistance is more urgent now than ever.

Seattle: Good day in Seattle! About 600 people, mostly young women, college students, came out.  We held a speakout on-stage. Some of the chants were “abortion on demand and without apology, without this basic right, women can’t be free!” and “a woman should decide her fate, not the church and not state!”

The speakout was very powerful.  We called on women to share their stories of having an abortion. Some other people said that we shouldn’t talk about abortion and that we should just stick to talking about “choice”. One older woman was saying that she was so happy she was able to have had an abortion, that she felt relieved because she didn’t have to take care of child she wasn’t ready for. There was another women who said that people shouldn’t feel shame about taking care of their bodies.

A woman talked about how on the march she had started to cry once she saw all the women on the sidelines who were clapping their hands and cheering, and when she saw their faces light up when they saw us coming down the street. People traveled from all parts of the state to come and the feeling of empowerment was really electric.

After the older woman started to speak about their experience, girls as young as 17 told their stories. One young girl said that she had a really cruel boyfriend, she got pregnant and was able to have an abortion. If she didn’t have the ability to do that, she would be in a really bad situation and she was glad that she has the life she has today. Some women were crying in hearing these stories.

It was very heartening to people who have been continuously fighting for abortion rights and the liberation of women to see women in the streets after years of being afraid, put on the defensive and kept out of the streets. Older people were also inspired by the young women that came out to show that they are not ashamed to talk about reproductive issues, birth control or abortion.

Philadelphia: About 200 walked, joined in with a rally for union rights.

Greensboro, NC: Between 70 and 80 people from various parts of North Carolina participated in protests today in Greensboro in support of abortion rights, and against the attacks against women’s rights in Congress and in state governments.Initiated by a blogger in Chicago and coordinated by a spontaneous network of volunteers on sites like tumblr and facebook, the walk for Choice took place in more than 50 cities in the US, with others occurring in Canada and the UK.

Abortion Providers are Heroes!

Greensboro, NC

Women, mostly 25 and under, made up the majority of participants in Greensboro, which also had significant participation of women who were brought into activism in the days before Roe v. Wade. Several men also participated, coming in with friends from Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem. Drummers from the Cakalak Thunder Radical Drum Corps provided the beats along the march, which took place up the main downtown strip. All the placards were handwritten, with messages like “May the baby you save be gay,” “Abortion on demand without apology,” “I’m a woman, not a womb”, and a bright orange banner painted with the words, “Abortion providers are heroes: A fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators!”

On returning to the park where the march began, several marchers took part in an open mic and reflected on the serious situation we’re now confronting. A 60-year old marcher who had broad experience with women seeking abortion in the days before Roe told several stories of the horrors women faced and warned of the very real danger of going back to those days if we don’t oppose the rash of laws being put forward. A young woman told the crowd that she was going to be moving to Kansas soon, in spite of (or really because of) the fact that Kansas has been the site of massive anti-abortion activity, and that she is going to commit herself fully to the pro-choice movement there.

The organizer of the march, for whom this was the first protest that she had ever organized, talked about the attcks on Planned Parenthood, and emphasized the importance of taking action, even if you have no experience organizing or mobilizing people. Se added that social networking sites have become a very powerful tool in the hands of activists.

Another activist who supports the Revolutionary Communist Party emphasized the importance of fighting the lies of anti-choice forces with scientific understanding, adding that it’s crucial not to be afraid of using the word “abortion”, nor to apologize for being in support of full equality for women. Oranigzers with World Can’t Wait distributed the leaflet, “Stand up for women’s Right to Abortion and Birth Control in 2011!” and made the connection between the attacks on women and the fascist trajectory in the US, which includes the demonization of Muslims and immigrants, as well as the ongoing wars.

Los Angeles: 250-300 people gathered at Pershing Square in Downtown L.A.  Men and Women, students, families; splattering of orange. I spoke to students who came from over an hour’s drive to participate. Many of them representing community colleges, universities. People took the World Can’t Wait Abortion Statement readily and Abortion on Demand, without Apology. Of the 30+ people I spoke with, only one had heard of Dr. Sue Wicklund and loved the book. All said they would check out the website, the book and the DVD with Sunsara and Sue.

No Woman Can Call Herself Free

Los Angeles

No one had heard of World Can’t Wait and when I said WCW wears orange to stand against torture and to rally people to stand against Crimes of this Government; there was lots of agreement.  Asked people to join in the streets on March 19th Against the War. The majority were unaware of the march.

New Chant:
1 2 3 4 Open up the Clinic Door
5 6 7 8 You can’t make us Procreate!

and the standard:
When Women’s Rights
Are Under Attack,
What do we Do?
Stand Up Fight Back!

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In Front of 2 Abortion Clinics, Making Choice Real

For a year, I attended a Protestant university where the “girls” dorm had a midnight curfew; the men, 2:00 am.  Condoms were stored behind the counter at the town drugstore, so you had to ask the creepy pharmacist to allow you to buy them.  I doubt anyone had ever dared ask the college health service to prescribe the Pill, but the answer would have been “no.”   It was 100 times easier to buy any illegal drug on that conservative campus than to buy something to protect your fragile young life.  We were really stuck in the Dark Ages, though it was 1969.

We'll never go back

San Francisco

I was 18, a few months into college.  My friend’s roommate’s girlfriend went home at Thanksgiving to see the family doctor, and found out she was 6 weeks pregnant.  She was  a senior, planning law school, much more sophisticated than I, and still, in a complete panic.   Though I was still too scared to have sex — precisely because I wanted to avoid just such a pregnancy — I was the designated brave one delegated to find her an abortion.  I knew people in Chicago in the anti-war movement who put me in touch with JANE abortion service.  I remember it as a huge relief.  She avoided the back-alley experience, and we learned that there was this amazing network of women who took care of other women with unplanned pregnancies, selflessly and safely.

Only 4 months later, women could get to New York City, camp out overnight in front of newly opened clinics — as they did in happy bunches — and get a safe, legal abortion because New York state had broken the ban.  With the Roe v. Wade decision in three years later, we thought the years of agonizing deaths from septic abortions were over; we thought women, at least in the U.S., would not be forced to bear children against their will anymore.

The women who died from unsafe abortions are hardly remembered now, certainly not by what Dr. LeRoy Carhart calls the “Right to Lie” movement against abortion.  Their story goes that if women were not forced to have abortions by the “abortion industry,” they, the good Christians, could intervene and convince every pregnant woman that God planned this pregnancy for her, and she ought to go along with His plan for her life and, no matter how hard it is, accept this blessing [overheard verbatim this weekend outside Dr. Carhart's clinic in Maryland].

But Dr. Carhart, who trained at Hahneman Hospital in Philadelphia, said the women he treated with septic abortion injuries made such a lasting impression in his surgical training, that he set out to make sure women would have the best care possible after 1973.  In spite of the intense anti-abortion harassment — including a Nebraska state law passed in 2010 to stop his provision of abortion past 20 weeks — he’s expanding services at his Bellevue, Nebraska clinic.  And he’s now doing advanced gestation abortions for maternal and fetal indications at his clinic in Germantown, Maryland.

Germantown, Maryland – January 23

Dr. Carhart is a Hero

Dr. Carhart is a Hero

About 150 anti-abortion protesters (link provided for reference, not endorsement) were outside that clinic Sunday, though it’s not open on weekends. On short notice, 45 pro-choice activists came, from 6 states, to celebrate abortion rights and defend Dr. Carhart and courageous abortion providers who make choice possible.  We were filmed and interviewed by most local news, and some national outlets.

Those of us defending the clinic were on site two hours before the anti’s but of course the police told us we had to move.  The sergeant said,”it will be fine.  Separate, but equal!” (well, he didn’t actually say that).

Local NBC coverage (video)

Germantown Patch (article)

South Bronx, NYC – January 22

Saturday, on the anniversary of Roe, the staff of Dr. Emily’s Women’s Health in the South Bronx, with the New York Coalition for Abortion Clinic Defense, welcomed 70 supporters for a street rally in front of the clinic.  The monks who usually prey on women there were fairly quiet, but we weren’t.   It was moving to hear from a first-year law student (especially given the experience above) whom I’d met earlier this fall working on prosecution of Bush era war crimes. Chloe described the decision to terminate a pregnancy just as she started school as uncomplicated, since she had access to good care.  But, even if abortion was illegal, she said,

“I would have walked to the ends of the earth to terminate that pregnancy.  Because my life already means something!  I am not just a vessel waiting to be filled!”

NY1 (video)

WBAI Radio: a Celebration of Roe v. Wade – January 22

1 in 3 Women

Supporting Dr. Carhart in Germantown, MD

For an hour Saturday, I was on the radio show Equal Time for Free Thought.  Sunsara Taylor hosted The Morality of Abortion and the Immorality of Those Who Would Force Women to Bear Children Against Their Will (audio).

Guests were Dr. Leroy Carhart; Merle Hoffman, Founder of Choices Womens’ Medical Center in Queens NY (going strong since 1971); Carole Joffe, author of Dispatches From the Abortion Wars: The Cost of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us, as well as, Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe V. Wade and myself.

We jumped into the discussion of the morality of abortion, four of us with several decades of history doing so, from two sides. Depriving women of control over our bodies — even birth control access is being limited by state laws now — is profoundly diminishing to women, and immoral.  When backed up by theocratic ideas like the Biblical submission of women to men, and violence to abortion providers, it’s intolerable to a people who care about the humanity of women.

Arguing for the morality of abortion, I can’t say it better than this:

The morality that should be supported and fought for is one that values the rights of women to lead full social lives. It supports social and intimate relations where people respect each other’s humanity and flourish together—and not where women are supposedly commanded by “God” to “submit themselves” to men. This morality sees children as a joy to society, and as ultimately the responsibility of all society, while not compelling anyone in any way to have children against their will. It does NOT, as these theocrats do, sanctimoniously shout hosannas to a clump of cells that might someday become a child—while feverishly upholding the murder of real live children in the war being waged by the U.S. in Afghanistan, and self-righteously dooming literally millions of other real live children, right in the U.S., to lives of deprivation and punishment—in the name of those same traditional values.

from The Morality of the Right to Abortion… And the Immorality of Those Who Oppose It

San Francisco, CA – January 22

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology

San Francisco

There was a very large statewide anti-abortion protest in San Francisco, with many more children and teenagers than in past years.  The pro-choice presence was smaller than previous years, though some young ones got a banner stretched across the anti-abortion group, before being pushed off.

There really is a battle for the minds of the next generation on this.  Will their heads be filled with the lie that “abortion is murder?” World Can’t Wait activists with a bullhorn directed questions to the children brought to the march, which apparently infuriated some of their parents.  “For all you who were afraid to tell your mom and dad you didn’t want to come here today — for all you all who are afraid to tell your pastor you believe abortion should be legal — you’re right!”

ABC Local (video)

IndyBay (photos)

More photos from all the above Roe celebrations on Facebook.

Sunday morning, the New York Times reported on an abortion provider who is bearing the brunt of society’s under-appreciation for the caring service he provides:

“I’m just a punching bag,” he added. “I don’t do well with that. Sometimes they [patients] won’t even look at me the day of the procedure; they won’t speak to me. That I despise. I really hate that.

“They were referred to me because I do it safely and expeditiously,” the doctor continued. “To be treated like garbage — and my staff — is really very upsetting.”

Please, send Dr. Berg a thank-you card and let him know just how vitally important his work is to women’s lives, and how much we appreciate him.

Robert E. Berg, MD
148 Madison Ave., Ste. 200
New York, NY 10016

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Abortion Empowers You!

Abortion Changes You anti-abortion messages

Anti-abortion messages from Abortionchangesyou.com

Currently anti-abortion ads are running on NYC subways.  Abortionchangesyou.com perpetrates confusion, shame, guilt, and disinformation to discourage women from having abortions.

Here are some things we’re doing to challenge these ads:

1) A new campaign, hatched moments ago at the “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice; Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom”  is AbortionEmpowersyou.com.  What is your abortion story?  How did abortion change your life?  How would you do a creative alteration of the AbortionChangesYou ads?

We’re collecting responses right now at the conference — look for the site to be updated tonight!  Collaborators are Heather Ault of 4000yearsforchoice.org and Jennifer Klozik DeCapua of 45millionvoices.org and Debra Sweet of WorldCantWait.net

2) From organizers for “From The Burkha to the Thong, Everything Must, and Can, Change– WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!” A national campus tour by Sunsara Taylor:

Saturday April 17th, 2010

Protest “abortionchangesyou.com
& its anti-abortion, anti-woman message
in the New York City subways

Speak out for Abortion Rights
and Women’s Liberation!

Abortionchangesyou.com promotes an aura of shame and guilt around abortion and contributes to the lie that to have an abortion is to murder a baby.  This comes in the guise of concern for women and providing emotional support for them. The anti-abortion agenda of these ads has been exposed in a New York Times article, which points out that the site directs people to pro-life groups with the Catholic Church and the site’s founder has collaborated with Feminists for Life.

Our response:
“forced childbearing changes you”
Abortion on demand and without apology!

Join us April 17th to break the silence and shame and declare that women are human beings, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion!

A fetus is NOT a baby!
Women are NOT Incubators!
Abortion is NOT Murder!

Meet at 2pm near the subway entrance – SW corner of Union Sq. Make your own pro-abortion/pro-choice ad and we’ll spread our message through the subway, stopping at Columbia University, in Harlem and Williamsburg

From organizers for “From the Burkha to the Thong, Everything Must, and Can, Change– WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!” — a national campus speaking tour by Sunsara Taylor

Contact– Sunsara_tour@yahoo.com 347-721-8980

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Anti-Abortion Movement Aims to Control Black Women

In my decades of escorting women through anti-abortion protesters and into abortion clinics, I’ve  observed that there are a variety of culturally different responses to the bullying, whining, pushing and threats.  I’ve seen Latinas dissolve into tears and confusion when confronted at the clinic entrance by a priest saying the rosary over them, when they are told they’ll go to hell for “killing their babies.”  Russian women tend to breeze by the antis as if they’re invisible, while white American women, more than any others,  feel they have to answer for their personal actions to obnoxious and complete strangers.

Antis' billboard

The billboard that Georgia Right to Life has been putting up all over Atlanta

Black women (African American and West Indian) are the most likely, in my experience, to challenge the antis to “stay the f— out of my way!”  Their anger at being interfered with comes out righteously.  They don’t need anyone to tell them about their business.  The anti-abortion movement has historically had a very difficult time getting support in the Black community, for this and other reasons (their own racism, for one).

As part of the overall society-wide assault on abortion rights with includes murdering doctors, devising ever more state laws to restrict access, and the work of Democrats both overtly anti-choice and those who just seek common ground, the anti-abortion movement has recently put a lot of money and PR talent into blaming Black women for having abortions.

Of course, they don’t say that directly.  Several anti-abortion groups are  funding a campaign to cast Black children as an “endangered species” because Black women have abortions.  And more than that, they assert there is a concerted campaign of “Black genocide” fostered by an “abortion industry” that targets Black women who abort unintended pregnancies.

There is so much incorrect, dangerous, and outrageous about every one of their contentions and methods, that I can only begin here a sketch.

(Parenthetically, what if we suggest to the antis that they focus on a group who is really “endangering” their fetuses? Catholic women, as identified on medical admission forms, who use abortion more than any other religious group, perhaps?  I know most Catholics say they don’t listen to the Vatican on sexual matters — and why would they, given the revelations of the Pope’s protection of pedophiles?  But it’s likely that the 12th century teaching that birth control is a sin is at least a major factor in the higher number of unplanned pregnancies among Catholics, and the various miseries they lead to.  Let’s tell the Right to Life movement to do some truth in advertising on that!)

At the heart of the campaign to shame and control Black women is a film called Maafa 21.  See the trailer at blackgenocide.com (striking footage and dramatic music: high production values and serious funding behind this effort). It starts from the assumption that slavery of Black people in the United States was followed by an attempt by “America’s wealthy elite” to make Black people disappear.

Well, that’s true.  An unemployment rate of 50% for African American men in NYC.  2.4 million people incarcerated, a huge proportion of them Black.  The lowest life expectancy among any group in the US, and a higher infant morality rate.  Higher rates of deadly diseases, and lower levels of health insurance.  Higher rates of combat death in every war from the Civil War on.  This is systematic oppression of Black people!

But those behind Maafa 21 don’t care about any of that, least of all actual living Black people.  The film weaves aspects of true facts — including the scientifically wrong eugenicist views of Margaret Sanger who fought in the early 20th century to bring birth control to poor women and founded Planned Parenthood — into a conspiracy by abortion providers today to “sell” abortions to Black women in order to reduce their birth rate.

This is all wrong, backwards, and very dangerous.

And we need to answer it.  There is a professional promotion effort of this film especially to to HCBU’s (historically Black colleges and universities) with cuts of it on YouTube and comments indicating people are being taken in by the argument.  See Abortion and Black Genocide (Barack Obama and the Negro Project),

I would challenge anyone giving this film any credence to look at who made it, and how it’s being used.  Credit goes to “Life Dynamics,” a group in Texas run by one Mark Crutcher.  After a career in “promotion of automotive products” (used car salesman), Crutcher branched out to targeting abortion doctors over the last two decades, and sending a threatening pamphlet to medical students in the 1980′s.  He specializes in “intelligence” against abortion providers.  He has no history or connections with any movement endeavoring to protest, nor better, the lives of Black people in this country.

billboard

Black children are BEAUTIFUL - the billboard is corrected.

This aggressive disinformation campaign goes beyond a film.  Georgia Right to Life put $20,000 into 80 billboards in Atlanta in January calling black children an “endangered species.”  Some of the billboards are still up, and there are plans to spread them to other cities with large Black population.  I see one got a welcome alteration last week (Black children are beautiful members of the HUMAN species!).

Cindy Cooper writes in Anti-Choicers, the Media, and Race, on another aspect of the assault on women in Georgia:

the billboards are propaganda for an anti-abortion legislative assault, a bill in Georgia titled the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, and called “PreNDA” by its anti-choice sponsors. The bill would create a new felony of “criminal solicitation of abortion.” Under it, a person commits a crime punishable by five years in prison if the individual “solicits or coerces” another person to have an abortion ‘based in any way on account of the race, color, or sex of the unborn child or the race or color of either parent of that child.’ Under the bill, a doctor commits “criminal abortion,” punishable by 10 years in prison, for performing an abortion based on those factors or ‘with knowledge that the pregnant woman’ based it on them. In addition, abortion is defined as ‘the homicide of an unborn child,’ and civil actions are extended for damages.”

For more on the actual restrictions this will place on women who need abortions, see Black Abortion: Battleground Georgia on RH Reality Check. We must and will answer the lies in this “Black genocide” argument.  Leaders in the fight for reproductive justice are already doing so.

Loretta Ross, of Sistersong, says:

“They tell African American women that we are now responsible for the genocide of our own people … We are now accused of ‘lynching’ our children in our wombs and practicing white supremacy on ourselves… This is what lies on steroids look like.

…The sexism in their viewpoints is mind-boggling. To them, Black women are the poor dupes of the abortion rights movement, lacking agency and decision-making of our own. In fact, this is a reassertion of Black male supremacy over the self-determination of women…. It is about re-enslaving Black women by making us breeders for someone else’s cause.”

Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton professor, looks at Black women’s situation in this society in A Right to Life for the Living:

A recent study by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development revealed that single black women have on average only $100 in personal wealth, compared with $41,500 for single white women. With less disposable income, many black women are shut out of the booming reproductive technologies market available to their white peers. In this twisted sense even college education could be argued to constitute racial genocide.

This past Saturday I sat around a table in Harlem with an abortion provider and a dozen people who escort at an abortion clinic in the Bronx.  I asked how people thought we should answer this “Black genocide” campaign.  Francesca was really outraged at the idea of the anti-abortion movement talking to Black women about “life” for unborn fetuses.  She asked, “what about the epidemic of Hep(atitis) C? Black women are out here struggling with life and death!  They don’t need to tell us anything.”

A student said “we have to make an unapologetic case for abortion rights!” We talked about the antis’ so-called “science” and how it’s used to confuse and lie to people about our bodies.  Others said the “genocide” argument is used, and has historically been used, to manipulate people against abortion.  Sharon, who provides abortions, said that we have to explain the actual reality for women of color.  “We have more unintended pregnancies, for economic reasons.”

Everyone agreed that women — including women of color — can determine what they need to do for each pregnancy.  And no government, husband, father, religion, Pope, or group of lunatic murderers with a budget should force motherhood on any woman.

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Angie’s Abortion: An Unapologetic, Unshamed Youtube

Angie

Angie the Anti-Theist

Angie the Anti-Theist stirred up a lot of controversy by live-tweeting as she had a medical abortion last week, as a public service.  Thank you Angie!

Angie the Anti-Theist Live Tweets her Abortion

Angie says, “I found out about a week ago Saturday that I was pregnant.  For a variety of reasons, including  very high health risks for me, I’m having an abortion.  Right now.  They have abortion by pill now, RU 486.  I went to the doctor, Planned Parenthood, had blood tests and everything else done.  They did a sonogram to check the state of my pregnancy. I was at only four weeks one day when I went into the office on Thursday.

They sent me home with medicines, and I’ve taken those. It takes awhile to set in, and I ended up getting a second dose. I’m having an abortion right now. It’s not that bad, it’s not that scary.  It’s basically like a miscarriage.  I’m live tweeing my abortion on Twitter.  Not for some publicity stunt, or attention, or to justify this to myself.  I am at peace with my decision. I’m doing this to de-mystify abortion.  I’m doing this so that other women know, hey, it’s not nearly as terrifying as I had myself worked up thinking it was.  It’s just not that bad.  This is nothing compared to childbirth, compared to labor, compared to for me, and my risks, late stage pregnancy.  This is the best choice.  It’s not that bad. And I want people to know that it’s out there. If you need this, there are non-surgical oprtions available, especially in the earliest stage of pregnancy.

Obviously, everbody use protection. Sometimes that doesn’t work.  When it doesn’t, there’s the morning after pill (Plan B) and if you’re not in time for that, there’s RU-486.  So, I just want to let everybody know that you too can have an abortion if you want one.  It’s OK. It’s not shamefull, not secret, it’s not killing a child.  I have a little boy.  You guys have seen him on my video channel.  He is my world.   I want to stay alive and be his mom a lot longer, so I’m having an abortion.  I hope everyone on Youtube has a great and godless day. Peace. ”

Postscript: Kathryn Joyce posted a fascinating piece on Angie’s history today on Salon:

Jackson, whose special-needs son was born after a grueling 98-hour delivery, says her motivation is to counter the stories of regret the anti-abortion movement has cultivated in recent years. As the controversy continues, one of the most interesting—and motivating—parts of her narrative has been largely overlooked: her intimate connection with a religious movement—one she now calls a cult—that glorified fertility and childbirth and demonized medical intervention even when mothers’ labors were going very wrong.

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NE Abortion Opponents Trying to Stop Dr. Carhart: “Abortion Pain Prevention Act”

One thing we can be absolutely clear about: abortion opponents do not care about the pain of women.  Proof of that is the fact that they orchestrate a parade of women to take the stage, sometimes literally, and tell wrenching stories of how sad, guilty, or devastated they are because they had an abortion years ago.

Dr. Carhart is a Hero

The great majority of those women would have dealt with their feelings about abortion and done fine if they hadn’t run into the “abortion is murder” cabal.  They would have felt the main emotion most women feel after ending an unplanned pregnancy: relief, sometimes accompanied by regret that they couldn’t bear a child at that time.  But now they’ve become symbols of how women, allegedly, are not responsible enough to run our own lives, and make our own decisions.

The main mission of the anti-abortion movement is to cause women pain, keep us subservient and unable to control the one most basic aspect of our lives: when and if we will bear children, and under what terms.

Now that Scott Roeder has admitted he fantasized and planned for almost 20 years to kill George Tiller before he actually did it on May 31, and he’s become a martyr to their movement, it looks like he will do some long prison time.  But the anti-abortion movement is quickly moving on to another target, Dr. Leroy Carhart, who announced last month that he’s doing later term abortions in his Nebraska office.

Dr. Carhart’s clinic is picketed daily by up to several dozen protesters.  Troy Newman, who succeeded in creating a climate in Wichita in which Dr. Tiller was killed, then complained to the Nebraska Attorney General over non-existent violations in Dr. Carhart’s office.  World Can’t Wait and other pro-choice groups sent thousands of messages of protest to Jon Bruning, the Attorney General, telling him to protect Dr. Carhart, not harass him. Omaha.com reports that 5,000 participated in this year’s Walk for “Life” in Omaha.

Now comes the Abortion Pain Prevention Act introduced by Nebraska Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood on Jan. 21.

Jill Stanek, writing on WorldNetDaily.com — where life is great as long as you’re not actually born, or don’t live in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine — or you don’t have the view that American life is more important than other lives:

“The Abortion Pain Prevention Act takes us into a whole new world of abortion law, banning all abortions after 20 gestational weeks on the basis of a preborn baby’s capacity to feel the pain of it all. At this age a baby anatomically “has the physical structures necessary to experience pain,” states the bill, based on scientific evidence.

The only exception would be if a mother “has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” states the bill.”

Stanek presents some photos of tiny babies, possibly alive, but with no indication of what they illustrate, with the comment that “if born, particularly at 23 weeks or older, wanted babies often live and thrive.”  True.  The operative word here is wanted and the woman in whom they reside will be the judge of that, not Stanek, Flood, Roeder, Newman or Randall Terry.

At least Flood is honest.  “I feel strongly that what Dr. Carhart wants to do is unacceptable,” Flood said. “I am introducing this to stop Dr. Carhart from performing late-term abortions.”

Dr. Carhart, for his part, said on KETV News in Omaha that he’s ready for the battle.  I have no doubt that he is, in that he’s weathered two Supreme Court cases, the total destruction of his home and barn in 1991, along with his horses, the loss of his best friend in Dr. Tiller, and he’s continuing to push forward even more strongly to care for women when they need abortion.

So, let’s back him up!

Many of you stood on the streets of Bellevue, NE this past summer with us, standing between “Operation Rescue” and his clinic, or signed a petition last month against the complaints filed by OR and their associates.

Dr. Carhart’s office has issued a request to all supporters, for a “flood” of messages against this harmful abortion ban to be sent to the legislator who introduced it. If you send a message, please cc Dr. Carhart’s office at info@abortionclinics.org so that he at least can keep track of the support, even if the Nebraska Legislature doesn’t.

Sen. Mike Flood
Speaker of the Legislature
Room #2103
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2929
Email: mflood@leg.ne.gov

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Youth for “Life” Argue “Women ARE Incubators!”

In front of the Supreme Court on January 22, 2010, I waded into the crowds of anti-abortion kids (followed by photographers and video, including the clip below featured in the Washington Post coverage) on a mission. I wanted to know what and how they think; how they are being told to think, and challenge them.   In every group, there was that one or two who listened, and looked me in the eye, and communicated that they had never heard anyone say what I said, and were intrigued and thinking.

I’ve met enough people who were once Christian fundamentalists, and even people who participated in these fascist social movements, to know some can be peeled away if we struggle with them over what reality is, and don’t give up on them and their capacity to understand the world and transform themselves and change, even dramatically.

Washington Post Video of the March for Life

Gagged by "Life"

Gagged for "Life"

Across the country, the symbolic protest of youth wearing red tape over their mouths with the word LIFE is said to unify the message, and show silent protest.  A pro-choice friend watching this in Houston outside Planned Parenthood earlier in the week, seeing them for the first time, wrote

We are a hell of a lot more interesting than they are.  We have facts and we can speak.   They have no facts and they are gagged. If they do this again, I’m making a sign that says, WOMEN WILL NOT BE GAGGED!

Until I was in this huge crowd of people, all with tape over their mouths, I did not realize how goofy that was.  It was hard to imagine.  Once we were in this crowd, watching them act like a bunch of people who were hypnotized, it reminded me of Jim Jones.  Several times I got a really creepy feeling.  I wish I had taken a picture of that horrible guy with the doll impaled on the pitchfork.

I took my own sign into the anti’s gathering around us.  “Abortion is NOT Murder…Fetuses are NOT Children…Women are NOT Incubators!”  I asked what they thought.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Women ARE incubators, they argues.  No irony there.

Here are some of the claims I heard repeatedly in the crowd, some from dozens of youth:

“Thousands (or millions) of women die each year in the U.S. from abortions.

Ah no, the death rate from abortion is less than one per million abortions in the U.S.  The serious complication rate is .03 percent.

“You don’t know, because you don’t do your research.  Ambulances leave abortion clinics every day with dead women, and it’s all covered up because you all have the money and control the media.”

Where did you learn that?

“It’s true.  Just look on the internet.”

Oops.  I did.  Look for comprehensive research on the incident of abortion and its safety at the Guttmacher Institute. Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.

Of course, you can read the claims of the anti-abortion movement all over the internet on sites such as Circle of Prayer, which gives no numbers, but claims that women receiving abortions are “raped, sexually assaulted, mutilated and killed.”  That would scare you if you thought the stories were true.  They are not.

“Women regret their abortions.” Thousands of kids carried signs saying that.

Most women feel relief over ending an unwanted pregnancy.  They might be sad or joyful, or wish their lives were different.  The ones who feel regret have had to live through decades of propaganda from the anti-abortion movement calling abortion murder, telling women what to feel.

“You are killing babies.” These kids are told they are “survivors of the abortion holocaust” which has “killed 50,000,000 babies since 1973.”

A fetus is not a baby.  It has no capacity to live independently of a woman’s body.  When it’s born, it becomes a baby, with a separate respiratory, nervous, circulatory and digestive system.”  A fetus is “living” only because it’s inside a woman, and has no independent social existence until it’s born.  Women — who are alive — must have control over their own bodies, and be able to determine whether they will carry each pregnancy.

See  “The Facts of the Matter: Fetuses Are NOT Babies, Abortion Is NOT Murder, and There Is No Such Thing as “Partial-Birth Abortion”

If you didn’t want to get pregnant, you shouldn’t have had sex.” and the variant:

“If you get pregnant, it’s your fault.”

Outside the abstinence-only classes a lot of these kids are forced to take, and probably right after those classes for a lot of kids, this idiocy flies in the face of reality.  People have sex the world over for many reasons other than conception; admittedly, in a male-dominated world, women don’t always of even often get to set the terms for sexual relations. Birth control fails, often, especially when you’re young and you’ve been lied to about how bodies work, and many young women are bullied into not using it to keep the affection of boyfriends.

Why does this have anything to do with “fault?”  Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.  But pregnancy only happens to the woman, even if she does have a supportive partner, and it becomes her responsibility, primarily to raise children.   This is why the woman must have the ability to decide, for each pregnancy, whether or not to bear a child.

There is a lot more here to mine, and much work to be done on answering the enforced idiocy these kids are being fed.  The future of humanity, including more than half of it, depends on this.

What do you think?  Let’s have a conversation about how to answer these students.

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Standing up for Women’s Lives in a Hostile Anti-Abortion Crowd

On Friday January 22, about 100 people, mostly women, had a pro-choice event in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.  There were also tens of thousands — perhaps 75,000 – people in the annual “March for Life” protesting that abortion was made legal 37 years ago.

Our side in the great debate got quickly surrounded by the other side, for about 6 hours.  They wanted to “save” us, tell us “god loves you,” scream in our faces, menace and threaten (that would be the old guys), pray over us, and/or kill us.  I heard that Randall Terry (founder of Operation Rescue in 1987) and Pat Mahoney, both of whom justified the May 2009 murder of George Tiller were in the crowd.

One of the points the mainstream media made on the March for “Life” is absolutely true: there were thousands of kids there.  Yes, the Catholic dioceses all up and down the East Coast and deep into the Midwest close school that day and herd them onto buses annually.  Many were compelled to come by friends, rules, tradition and authority.  But many also wanted to be there, and were completely convinced that they could “save babies” by marching.  I wanted to know why they think this, and hear their arguments.

High School Activists for Women's Choice

High School Activists for Women's Choice

But first, let me introduce you to the pro-choice supporters who were there mainly to counter the woman-hating message of the anti-abortionists.  They were mainly young also.  Student leaders of pro-choice organizations from Georgetown, George Washington, Catholic, and American Universities, and from two Maryland high schools brought other students.  The DC chapter of the National Organization for Women brought others, and their national leadership with out there all afternoon.  The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and the Fund for the Feminist Majority sent staff members.  The predominant sign was “Keep Abortion Legal.”  But lots of people brought their own signs.  World Can’t Wait had a simple bright orange banner with the message “Abortion & Birth Control for Women Everywhere!”

Women Are Not Incubators!

Outside the Supreme Court Jan 22 2010

I interviewed and met as many as I could.  Priscilla came because she remembers when abortion was illegal, and brought her friend in a sharp looking suit.  A nanny brought her two toddler charges, with the support of their parents.  A Chilean student dropped her research in the Library of Congress to join us, because “in Chile abortion is illegal”.  A man from El Salvador talked about the women who die everyday there because abortion is illegal, and a crime with which women are charged.  A energetic Brazilian student said “this is a problem all over Latin America that women have no control over our bodies.”   Hayley, a high school student, tried to get friends from her club to come, but they all flaked out, so she came alone with a beautiful “Trust Women” sign which reversed to “Women Are Not Incubators.”

Many of them had never been to an anti-abortion protest; others said they were sick of all the anti-abortion kids at their schools.  Some were determined to come even if no one had organized the pro-choice side. (Thanks to Robby from Peace of the Action/World Can’t Wait and to DC NOW for doing so!) while others came from a sense of responsibility to keep fighting, even as they see the Congress about to pass a sweeping ban on women getting abortion in the Stupak health care “reform” package.

See Rachel Larris’ blog on what choice means to people who were there.

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Supporting Dr. LeRoy Carhart v. Anti-Abortion Threats

In August, 150 of us gathered in Bellevue Nebraska when Operation Rescue called Dr. Leroy Carhart it’s “Target #1.  Their turnout on the weekend was small, but they’re well-funded, and serious about ending abortion access in the U.S.  They did everything possible — an ultimately, incited murder — against Dr. George Tiller in Wichita.  Dr. Carhart had worked in Dr. Tiller’s clinic for more than a decade.

In early December, Dr. Carhart announced that he’s set up his Bellevue clinic to provide abortions to women in later second term, and, in the case of medical necessity, the third trimester of pregnancy.  This means that women who’ve had to place to go since Dr. Tiller was killed, now have an able, caring physician.

And it means Operation Rescue is renewing their targeting of him…not based on any concern for women, but on ruthless, unprincipled crusade to stop all abortion and birth control access.

We sent a petition to Jon Bruning, the Attorney General of Nebraska, last week, demanding that he not cater to Operation Rescue’s phony complaints.  Here are a few of the comments 1500 supporters posted:

I find it quite ironic that the same people who want “government out of their lives” are also those who are proposing to have the government stick its nose into a woman’s belly!  Ilse Hadda, CA
Thank you Dr. Carhart for continuing the work that our Doctor once did. Kansas misses Dr. Tiller. Kansas appreciates YOU. Keep fighting! Kari Ann Rinker, KS
Dr. Carhart is clearly doing what he does out of deep concern for women’s health, and respect for the difficult choices some women have to make. I think the state of Nebraska should support the ethical and lawful work that he does, and make sure he isn’t continually harassed by baseless legal challenges. Emily Hines

I am heartened to see more than a few men have signed this petition. Thank you, Dr. Carhart, for your courage and concern for women’s lives. For every one person writing here, there are thousands who support you. Mary Truchelut, FL

We’ve got to remind people that it’s always got to be up to a woman whether or not she ends her pregnancy. The government has no place in that decision. Women should be in control of their bodies, not the government. El Salvador outlawed ending pregnancy and they have actually had government agents serve search warrants to inspect women’s uteruses for scars indicating surgery! Keep the government out of women’s bodies! Grady Kallenbach

And, the novelist and poet Marge Piercy wrote:

women have the constitutional right to control our bodies, but this right is being eroded. I grew up when this right was denied and lost my best friend who bled to death from a botched backstreet abortion. Women will decide whether it is permitted by the state or not. We always have.

You can still sign the petition, which we’re sending to Dr. Carhart.

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