Revolution #172, August 9, 2009
From a reader:
Cheers for "Abortion on Demand" Speakers at Bughouse Square!
On Saturday July 25, World Can’t Wait’s Lina Thorne and spoken word artist Mars won the day’s 1st prize for their presentation “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” in the midst of a wild scene at the legendary Bughouse Square in Chicago. A 3rd woman, Coco, played the role of a Christian fascist defender of the “Holey Buy-BULL”, which is the literal word of Sky-Daddy (god).
For over a century, artists, radicals, revolutionaries, poets and other “soapbox orators” have spoken out at Bughouse Square. On Saturday afternoons now, arguments can be made for or against issues, with hecklers free to interject as they want. Judges decide at the end of the day who did the best job presenting their cases and not getting pulled off their game by hecklers.
The abortion on demand speeches were heckled almost from the moment they started by real-life Christian fascists. The reactionaries tried to drown out the speeches, constantly claiming that fetuses are human beings and that abortion is murder, and trumpeting the life of cells or a fetus over the life of the woman of which it is part.
The right of women to fully participate in society was the heart of Lina’s and Mars’ arguments. (The point, "This is about birth control, sex, and whether women are human beings or just walking, talking incubators" got very strong applause.)
Lina and Mars also brought science to the debate. They argued that “abortion is not murder because fetuses are not babies! They exist within, are dependent on, and biologically integrated into the woman’s body—a fetus is still a fetus, not a socially distinct ‘person’ and not a human being whose rights trump the woman’s.”
The crowd was both very polarized and mixed ideologically, with many women and some men strongly defending Lina and Mars. The most outspoken Christian fascists were white men, one of whom claimed that white men are now the oppressed in American society. Some South Asian men in the audience sharply criticized claim that white men were the most oppressed, but then argued strongly against abortion on demand.
An older woman walked directly in front of the heckler who was arguing that a fetus is a human, looked him straight in the eye and put her palm up, about 12 inches from his mouth, in a non-violent gesture telling him to be quiet. He grabbed her outstretched hand and yanked it aside. An abortion on demand supporter told him to take his hands off her.
Another anti-abortion heckler kept yelling “when does human life begin???” even after the speakers addressed that subject. A revolutionary yelled back, “the life of a fetus is not a human life, it becomes a human when it’s born”. The anti- couldn’t understand this, and kept yelling, “what’s the difference between a minute before it’s born and a minute after?!?” “The difference is that it’s born! It becomes an independent human being!” All this while the speeches continued from the “soapbox.”
These women and several other women and men in Chicago were galvanized and became active (or more active) around the defense of women’s and abortion rights after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita on May 31. Two of them went to Dr. Tiller’s funeral. Since then, this group has also counter-demonstrated against the reactionary “Pro-Life Action League.” a vicious anti-abortion and anti-woman group that has been taking huge, misleading photos of fetuses to major intersections in the greater Chicago area for months, as part of a long-standing ideological offensive against women, abortion, science and critical thinking.
The issue of Revolution, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have” sold well in the immediate aftermath of this debate. Three packets and a number of individual copies were sold to a very wide variety of people. A college student looking for a radically better world (who didn’t already know of Revolution or the RCP) bought a packet, as did a “no Olympics in Chicago” activist. A student from Germany, here for the summer, speakers from other topics, a poetry slam duo of young women who also presented at Bughouse Square, and others also bought the paper. This issue of Revolution seemed so widely displayed after this debate that we wondered if one of the people who bought a packet immediately distributed his/her packet’s copies to the crowd.
We’re following up with the college student, and publicizing the abortion on demand speeches, which can be seen at
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