Report from April 25 National Campus Day of Action for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology

April 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From someone in

High school students in Brooklyn, NY, April 25, 2013

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A crew of us from in New York City—including students from Hunter College & Brooklyn College—were out at both Hunter & Brooklyn College on Thursday for the National Campus Day of Action for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. With our supercool "Abortion on Demand & Without Apology" signs & stickers—we were beautiful! We passed out flyers at a fast clip—and held out stickers, "Make a donation, get a sticker, wear it all day & take a stand for abortion on demand & without apology!" It was great.

A lot of people—both young women & guys, and especially some older women (who remember when abortion was illegal and often have a keener understanding of the stakes) loved this, and enthusiastically plastered a sticker on themselves. "Yes—I'll wear that!" "I am so glad you're doing this." About 60 people signed up, some eager to participate in further struggle for abortion rights this summer.

And of course we got just the opposite: "That's disgusting." Along with a lot of uneasiness and ambivalence. "I think a woman should be able to decide... but really, women shouldn't use abortion as 'birth control.'" "Shoulda thought of that when you spread your legs." "Women should have deal with the consequences of unprotected sex." To such confusion, we would point out that not a single "pro-life" organization isn't also against contraception!

We also found—even on college campuses—a huge amount of ignorance about basic biology. Which is why it was great that we also had a big enlargement of a centerfold from Revolution #166, "A FETUS IS NOT A BABY" (May 31, 2009), which illustrates the biological truth of that. There was lots of conversation and debate and buzz.

Here's what's also very disturbing when you think about it: We actually had a number of people (at both campuses) come upon us and ask, "Are you against abortion... or for abortion?" At first, I was like, "What's not clear about this?" I'm thinking, "How can anyone not get where we stand?" And we realized here's why: Because almost the only time most people encounter anyone making a bold, unapologetic stand about abortion—hell, even saying the word "abortion"—it's the fucking bible-thumping bigots & the so-called "pro-life" movement!

The media, the political "debate," the movies... frankly even on college campuses across this country: Almost nowhere does anyone get to hear the clear, unequivocal truth about abortion: That abortion is one of the most common medical procedures for women in this society (about 1 in 3 women will have an abortion); that fetuses are not babies, abortion is not murder, and women are not incubators. Almost no one gets to engage the actual moral question at the heart of the "abortion debate," i.e., that you are either for women being able to decide, for themselves, when and whether to have a child OR you are for women being forced to bear children against their will. Forced motherhood is female enslavement.

The situation facing women's most fundamental rights to abortion is dangerously imperiled. And people don't even know it. Of course, the antis know it and are on the offensive. Especially a place like NYC, where I live, most people do not know that 97% of rural counties have no abortion provider. They do not know that 2011 and 2012 saw a record number of restrictions on abortion across the country, and already there are 278 bills introduced to further restrict abortion. That several states have only ONE abortion provider, and starting August 1 in North Dakota (for example), abortion will be illegal at around 6 weeks (that's before most women know they are pregnant!).

We also got a report from Revolution Books in Berkeley about a lively speak-out to mark the Day of Action outside UC Berkeley. "Abortion on Demand" stickers flew out of people's hands, eagerly taken up by many, including a medical student who proudly announced she was training to become an abortion provider. Another young woman said she was right in the midst of working on a paper about the enormous hurdles facing poor women in South Dakota who want an abortion. When this scene drew forward a couple of Christian fundamentalists on a soapbox preaching against "sinful students," the Day of Action forces sharply agitated about these Christian bigots' reactionary outlook and program. A crowd of 80+ people gathered around to check out the scene and listen to the back and forth. "This is what Berkeley should look like," someone said. After some initial hesitation, a couple of UC students took the bullhorn to weigh in. "If women can't decide what to do with their bodies it takes away a piece of their humanity," one student said. Another said afterward that she'd had no idea an hour earlier that she'd be speaking to a crowd about abortion rights!

Aside from NYC & Berkeley, people around were out at DePaul University, Columbia College & Roosevelt University in Chicago, at Cleveland State University, at University of Washington, at Occidental College near L.A. and more.

There needs to be much, much more, on-the-ground, mass resistance to take on these attacks on abortion rights and to change people's thinking about abortion. Our experience in NYC and elsewhere on April 25 definitely brought this to the surface. ABORTION ON DEMAND & WITHOUT APOLOGY needs to become the slogan for the battle around abortion rights, and this summer needs to become a summer of resistance for abortion rights & women's lives.


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