Revolution Interview with Sunsara Taylor

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

From both coasts, and through the middle of the country

June 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



Revolution: has called for a summer of actions to fight for abortion on demand and without apology. Would you sketch out for us the developing plans around this call?
Calls for Summer 2013


Abortion on Demand
and Without Apology!

For Every Woman in Every State
The Reversal of Abortion &
Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!

Sunsara Taylor: First of all, to understand why we're doing this, we have to confront the fact that abortion rights in this country right now are in an absolute state of emergency. There is an all-sided, many-fronted assault on women's right to abortion and even birth control. There are the violence, terror, and threats against abortion providers. There is the avalanche of legal restrictions. The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country. Abortion has been marginalized and stigmatized within medicine, taken out of most primary care; it's not taught in medical schools unless students fight for it. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have an abortion provider. Eight doctors and employees of clinics have been murdered! Roe v. Wade is being aggressively undermined in the courts and in the court of public opinion. And abortion has become more stigmatized than ever before. One in three women has had an abortion, and you can hardly find a single woman in public life or, for most people, in their actual day-to-day life of people that they know that has admitted to them that they had an abortion. Most people go years and years—men especially, "I never knew anybody who had an abortion," and they just have no idea: it's their mother, their sister, their cousin, people that they're working with.

We are on track to a situation where women will lose this right. And let's be very clear up front: taking away this right, forcing women to have children they don't want, is a form of enslavement.

Stop Patriarchy Announces Launch of Fundraising Campaign for The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

Go to to donate to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

This summer, from July 24-August 25, after "send-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco, caravans will travel from both coasts, rallying and gathering support along the way, arriving in North Dakota before August 1 when new laws are set to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state. Then, down to Wichita where those who courageously re-opened the clinic of Dr. George Tiller following his assassination by an anti-abortion gunman are facing serious, and escalating threat. On to Jackson, Mississippi where a temporary court injunction is the only thing keeping the last remaining clinic in the state open. All along the way, we'll protest and confront the anti-abortion woman-haters, erect visual displays that tell the truth about abortion and birth control, collect and amplify women's abortion stories in order to break the silence, defend the clinics and providers most under attack, and meet with people to build lasting organization to DEFEAT the whole war on women."

For more information:

So, in this context, we are launching this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with kick-off rallies in San Francisco and New York on July 23, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to stand up and send off these Freedom Riders, who will caravan from both sides of the country, making stops and rallying support along the way, to converge at our first big stop in North Dakota in late July.

On August 1, several laws are set to go into effect in North Dakota. One is a fetal heartbeat law that will ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus through a vaginal ultrasound—at about six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. So it's a really extreme and outrageous law. There's a lot of expectation that the law will not stand—it's utterly unconstitutional. But it indicates the ferocity and the intentionality of the anti-abortion movement, the fact that it passed at all should be a wake-up call.

The more immediately dangerous law set to go into effect will require abortion providers in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. Now, North Dakota has only one clinic in the entire state, in Fargo, and the doctors there have to fly in from out of state, because abortion providers have to put their lives on the line and there's not that many who are willing to go through all that. So they will not be able to get those admitting privileges and this, if not overturned, would make North Dakota the first abortion-free state. So we will be standing with the clinic and others who have been fighting this—but also protesting the women-haters and legislature and churches behind it. We will hold a big ceremony and award some of these fascists the "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement" Award, which will take the form of a big bloody coat-hanger. (Wire coat-hangers are what many women used to try to induce their own abortions when it was illegal, and a great many women died from doing that.)


Through August, we'll then go down to South Dakota, which also has only one abortion clinic. We'll go through Nebraska where Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been viciously targeted; Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, and where for several years Julie Burkhart has fought very hard to reopen the clinic and recently has; and she's under death threats; she's under legal threat; she's under incredible pressure; and so we want to go there and support her and the clinic and also confront these fascists who are doing the kind of things that get people murdered. Then we'll cut through Arkansas, another state that recently passed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban and has only one abortion clinic. And we will end in Jackson, Mississippi, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement and has the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, a state that has incredible rates of impoverishment, especially among Black women who have almost no access to abortion in large parts of that state and the region.

It's a month-long tour with two major elements: we're both confronting the Christian fascists and exposing them for the woman-haters they are. And we're rallying support and drawing forward our side—the people who want to preserve this right but who have been atomized and put on the moral and political defensive, who have not seen either the need or the possibility to stand up as a collective force, in mass resistance to defeat this war on women. So we're going to come from both coasts and travel down the heart of the country. And then call on people to converge with us along the way, especially in Mississippi.

Revolution: So the caravans from the two coasts would be starting...

Taylor: July 24. The send-off rallies will be on the 23rd and then the next day they hit the road.

Revolution: There was an inspiring letter from a prisoner recently in Revolution and on ("Defending the Right to Abortion, and Transforming the People for Revolution") in which the brother recounted struggling hard with a fellow prisoner who opposed abortion. What's the importance of everyone—in particular men, but all kinds of people—taking up the fight for the right to abortion?

Taylor: To put it very simply, if women, half of humanity, are not free, then no one is free. That's just a reality. But to get into it a little more deeply, this attack on abortion is not incidental. It's very bound up with the way women have been treated for millennia—ever since the very first emergence of class divisions and of exploitation and oppression, of private property and the state, ever since human beings thousands of years ago went from living in more or less egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. It's very important to note that the oppression of women by men is NOT owing to "human nature." In fact, for tens of thousands of years, human beings lived without organized forms of oppression and divisions, including without the oppression of women by men. But when private property and the state and class divisions emerged, women's role got fundamentally transformed. Women became the property of men and breeders of children, breeders of new lines of inheritance of either the haves or the have-nots, the ruling class or the exploited. Controlling women's virginity before marriage and their sexuality from then on, making sure they only had sex with their husbands, was essential not only to the particular men who wanted to hand their property down to their children and not someone else's—but actually this control over women became very essential to maintaining and organizing class societies as a whole. This is as true, even if different in its forms and appearance, today in this capitalist- imperialist-dominated world as it was in feudal or slave societies.

If you drill down to the root of what gives rise to any form of oppression—whether it is the gruesome history of oppression of Black people in this country and the way that continues today with one very sharp concentration of this being the literal mass incarceration that amounts to a slow genocide, you know, with one out of every eight Black males in their 20s in jail or prison; whether it be the wars of domination and plunder that are driven by the engine of imperialist conquest; whether it be the destruction of the environment on a massive scale—you'll see that it comes from a common root and a common system. And that this system also requires and gives rise to the oppression of women. You cannot shatter that system, you cannot overthrow that system, you can't make revolution to get rid of that system, without taking up the fight for the liberation of women. A big part of what Bob Avakian has fought for in one of the dimensions of the new synthesis of communism that he has forged over decades is that if you understand this deeply and scientifically, you actually grasp that unleashing the fury of women, unleashing the pent-up fury at thousands of years of being treated as chattel, abused, degraded, violated, raped, ridiculed, demeaned and diminished in a million ways—unleashing the fury against that is not only a powerful and potent and necessary force for the liberation of women, but it is a driving force in making revolution as a whole.

This is why something BA has emphasized—both now in the struggle to prepare for and, with the emergence of a revolutionary crisis, to seize state power, and in the context of the new revolutionary society that is working to dig up the remnants of oppression and exploitation and advance towards genuine communism, that is, human emancipation—is extremely important. And in some inspiring ways, this was given expression in that letter from a prisoner you referenced. BA says:

In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question, and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe "just a little bit" of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between "wanting in" and really "wanting out": between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very divisions of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this.

That's the heart of the matter, and it's a challenge to men—and it's a challenge to all people who dream of and yearn for and want to fight for an end to exploitation and oppression in any form, that you have to make this your fight. It's also spoken to very powerfully in BA's new talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! where he makes very clear the only people who should fear the unleashed fury of women and who should not be out there fighting to help foster this and joining in with it are people who want to preserve this oppressive and destructive order.

Countering Christian fascist anti-abortion marchers in San Francisco, January 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

Revolution: You emphasized the urgent need for people to take action around the question of abortion, people from different viewpoints who see the importance of acting. At the same time, as a revolutionary communist, you're putting forward an analysis of where women's oppression comes from, and the need for revolution, nothing less, to actually get at the root of it. So talk about how these things interrelate.

Taylor: Well, I think for a whole host of reasons the conditions women face are increasingly violent and degrading and horrific all around the world. And then there are all the other oppressive things I spoke about earlier like the destruction of the environment, the mass incarceration of oppressed people here, unjust wars and even things like the really gross and revolting culture that has everyone so alienated and degraded and really unhappy—all of this, and many more things that would take us a long time to talk about. It really is a reality that this world is a horror—and it doesn't have to be this way. It is not because of human nature, it is because of the nature of the system. And we need a revolution. We need a revolution as urgently as possible. To get rid of this, and to bring about a whole different world. That's possible, and that's needed. People need to be getting into that and fighting for it, very firmly. And putting BA out there—this is the BA Everywhere Campaign, raising a lot of money to promote BA Everywhere—letting people know that there's a viable, radical alternative to this world, a real new synthesis of revolution and communism, that there's a leadership for this revolution and a strategy. All this needs to be going on. And as people step forward to fight around these different faultlines, around mass incarceration and around the degradation and enslavement of women, around all of these things, that's going to be favorable for hastening the transformation of people in a revolutionary direction and the repolarization in society in a revolutionary direction. So it's very important for those of us who are coming from recognizing the need for revolution to really appreciate that this is a moment when a lot needs to be put on the line to bring people forward in mass struggle against these outrages, in combination with the all-around work that we're doing as revolutionaries, including around BA around this newspaper, Revolution, and, getting them out everywhere.

But at the same time, you don't have to be coming from that perspective to recognize that there is a state of emergency facing women. Each and every one one of us who refuses to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to be in this fight right now. And you should support this Freedom Ride: donate, send a message of support to the clinics for us to deliver, join us for a leg of the tour, spread it on social media. There is no good reason not to stand up and fight against this. What is at stake is literally the future and the lives of the half of humanity that is born female. This is what we are all responsible for.

How to Get Involved

To learn more about and connect up with the Summer 2013 Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Freedom Ride, go online to

Keep up with the news and analysis around this struggle at

And as we're doing this, as we're standing shoulder to shoulder, we should be debating. People should want to be debating and getting into and trying to understand it. And actually people will be more open to it, the more they fight back, the more the big questions do open up to people. Why does this keep happening? Why are we in 2013 fighting a battle over birth control, over abortion? Why are these fights being refought? Where is this coming from? How can it be ended? And we want to be in there putting forward very clearly where this is coming from, and what it will ultimately take, what kind of revolution is ultimately needed. But also learning from other people, where they're coming from, and standing shoulder to shoulder with them. And as people get into this—BA has put it very powerfully in the "Invitation" that he put out, where he says, act on what you know to be an outrage, continue to fight against those things which drove you into political struggle at the beginning. As you do this, there's a responsibility of people to really come to understand how to really end this and to explore and to learn what different people are saying and what's actually true about that. And if you as you investigate this, as you're standing up and fighting with us, you come to understand the source of the problem is the system and the solution we need is communist revolution, don't turn away from that because it challenges your assumptions or takes you out of your comfort zone, follow that wherever because the fate and future of humanity is what's at stake, and fighting our way out of this. And understanding that, you should pursue it. There's a back and forth between standing up and fighting and getting into those bigger questions. And we are eager to lead and to learn in that whole process and both parts of that process.

Anybody and everybody who really does not want to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to stand up and fight right now. And you need to join with this Freedom Ride. Donate towards it. Send a message of support with us to the clinics that we'll be traveling to. Join us for a leg of the tour—in North Dakota, or Wichita, or Mississippi. Sign the statement I mentioned at and send it to everyone you know, asking them to do the same. Get that to authors, musicians, and other prominent people for their signatures. Raise money for this effort. Reach out to people you know in the places we are traveling through—Fargo, Bismarck, Minneapolis, Jackson, Little Rock, Nebraska, Cleveland... check for the full list—to help with housing and reaching out locally. There are many different ways to help and there's no excuse for not standing up and fighting with this. It does not have to be that these Christian fascists and patriarchs and these women-haters slam women backwards. But it will happen if we don't fight. So everybody has to join this fight. We all must take responsibility for STOPPING THIS—that is the measure we are all responsible to.

Revolution: What would it mean if this assault on abortion is allowed to win—so that abortion is not just increasingly difficult or even impossible for growing numbers of women, but actually outlawed altogether?

Taylor: It has to be understood deeply that being forced to have children you don't want—it means you have to give up everything you're planning. You have to foreclose your dreams and ambitions. That's your life. If you choose to have a child and are in a position to raise it in a way that you feel is right, that can be a beautiful thing. But to be forced to have a child is to essentially be told that all you are is a breeder. And to live in a society that denies that right, means that mostly young girls will be coming up not even having those larger dreams and ambitions. Because in the eyes of society, it will be very clear that they are not regarded as full human beings. Bob Avakian [BA], in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, put this very powerfully. He said, and I'm paraphrasing: Denying women the right to abortion is like rape. It is the forcible control of women, of their bodies, of their lives, of everything about them, by a male supremacist, male-dominated society.

It's worth it to look at El Salvador, which is a vision of where we are headed if we don't stop this. Abortion there is illegal in all circumstances and women are jailed for having abortions or even miscarriages deemed "suspicious" by the state, and doctors and nurses are required to turn in women who are suspected of aborting fetuses, and if they don't those doctors and nurses will be sent to prison.

Young people don't remember when abortion was illegal. And it's very important that people who do remember help young people understand what it was like, but also all of us must understand that if this right is taken away again, it's going to be even worse than that, because of the ideological assault, because of the level of surveillance and criminalization... it's going to be worse than before Roe v. Wade.

The other thing that's very important is: people who've had abortions more recently also need to tell those stories. On the tour we'll be collecting and amplifying these stories as part of destigmatizing abortion.

Revolution: You've sketched a picture of this very dangerous emergency situation threatening the right to abortion. Yet there's not a commensurate movement of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions of people taking to the streets to stop this. Can you speak to this?

Taylor: Well, I think there's three major things involved.

First, there's just tremendous ignorance. Even most people who sense that things are getting bad, who maybe are sending extra donations to Planned Parenthood or whatever because they see it is losing its funding (which must be opposed!), don't really understand how bad it is. And this ignorance of the actual situation is owing fundamentally to the next two factors.

The second thing is that we've been living through several decades of reactionary assault overall and revenge against the advances made by women in the 60s and 70s in particular.

Let's not forget that the idea that women are full human beings is very new, historically speaking. Millions of people fought heroically for this—millions did so in the context of the great revolutionary struggles of the last century in the Soviet Union and China, even as they had shortcomings in how they went at this they brought about radical and liberating changes for women as well as people as a whole. In the 1960s and '70s in this country there were very powerful revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s overall and the women's liberation movement was a very important element of that. But the revolutions in the Soviet Union and later in China were defeated and reversed. And revolution in this country was never made. So, the advances that were won could not be sustained and this system set about—both through its spontaneous functioning as well as through its conscious policy—to take revenge against the people for daring to have risen up. This has included a very conscious and extremely vicious revenge against women for having dared to challenge thousands of years of traditions chains.

This is not a "backlash" because people "went too far." This is revenge, precisely because people didn't go far enough and the capitalist-imperialist system that has patriarchy and male-domination woven into its fabric and its functioning remained intact.

And in the face of the ebbing of the radical upsurges and a vicious wave of counter-revolution, the most radical and even revolutionary streams of the women's liberation movement got isolated and also ran up against big challenges they weren't able to fully navigate. At the same time, the streams which had always been more bourgeois in their orientation (that is, more aimed at fighting for women to be equally included at every level—including the top levels of politics, finance, and military—of this system of exploitation and oppression) were absorbed pretty wholesale into the Democratic Party. And through all this, the Democratic Party (or the various forces whose leadership has been closely wedded to the Democratic Party like NARAL or Planned Parenthood) came to be seen as the only "real" outlet for those concerned about women's oppressed status. This is a deadly illusion and a deadly trap—and this has had a tremendously demobilizing and disorienting effect on several generations now.

I mean, the Christian fascist assault that's been unleashed really got going under Reagan, and it went to new levels under Bush the Second, and a lot of the new attacks have been driven by these totally outlandish lunatic Republican fascists. But this, fundamentally, has never been simply a "Republican war on women." It is the system's war on women—and the Democrats, while having real differences with it, and real opposition to some elements of it—have continuously conceded more and more ground to this assault. I mean, who would have thought even 10 years ago we would be fighting over birth control! And the Democratic Party leadership has really led in demobilizing the people who support abortion, putting them on the political and moral defensive. Hillary Clinton called abortion "tragic." Bill Clinton said it should be "safe, legal, and rare," implying that there's something wrong with it. And then you have Obama, who has over and over sought "common ground" with fascists and religious fanatics. Plus, he seems to have a real personal jones against Plan B contraception (often called the morning-after pill). The FDA approved it for over-the-counter distribution, but then Obama's head of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled that. That over-ruling was challenged in court, but then the Obama administration challenged it back. So, people have lost the sense of the need—and the possibility—of relying on ourselves and waging fierce mass political struggle to defeat this war on women—which is the ONLY way it can be defeated.

Third, and this flows from what I was just describing, there have been major setbacks in terms of the political and ideological and moral and scientific understanding of people around abortion. It is positive and liberating for women to be able to choose abortion. It is utterly immoral, illegitimate, and vicious and cruel and women-hating to force women to have children that they don't want. But, there's a lot of defensiveness around this and a big tendency for pro-choice people to focus on things like "Oh, what about a woman who's raped?" or "What about a woman whose life is in danger? Shouldn't we have an exception for her?" Of course women like that should be able to get abortions, and the fact that a lot of the restrictions don't make exceptions for rape or for incest or for the life of the woman—this just exposes how vicious and hate-filled the anti-abortion movement is. But at the core, the truth has to be told: this fight is about the status and role of women in society. It's NOT about babies. Fetuses have the potential to become people, but they are a subordinate part of a woman's body and they don't have a separate biological existence or a separate social existence. But that woman is a human being. Fetuses don't have rights. Fetuses are not people. Women are human beings.

That's why our lead slogan on our statement and this Freedom Ride is: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. A number of people have told us, "You can't say that in North Dakota. I personally agree with you. But it won't get over in North Dakota. (Or in South Dakota, or Midwest, Mississippi, whatever.)" But we've seen that there's a section of people, and I believe that there's many thousands, probably many tens of thousands of people, for whom right now, when they hear this, they're like, "Yes, that's right."

The idea is not that you're going to move millions of people overnight on this. You're going to speak to millions of people. But we're going to mobilize those people who have the most anger and the most clarity, and we're going to give them the ideological and moral certitude, and the scientific grounding. And also we're going to fight in a way that models refusing to accept any of this degradation, shame, enslavement, or oppression of women in any form. And we are going to lead those thousands of people to step forward and fight around this with us. And that's going to have a huge effect on them, as well as a huge effect on changing how millions more are seeing this.

So, I think these three things come together.

But what's not so visible to people is that if there is political leadership and clarity and a force that is daring to fight against it and put something on the line to stop this; there's millions and millions of people who can, and who really must, be brought forward to defeat this war on women. Those of us doing this Freedom Ride are prepared and determined to be that force and bring forward and lead those millions.

Revolution: As you have been out there building for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, what kinds of responses have you been getting?

Taylor: We've just begun. And we've gotten a very positive response from a number of people who have spent decades on the front lines of this fight around abortion rights and providing services. We've been in touch with a number of very courageous abortion providers who have been giving us quite a bit of insight and helping make connections in the areas we'll be traveling through. Also, David Gunn, Jr., the son of David Gunn who was the first abortion doctor to be assassinated, recently wrote a very powerful piece about why, from his own experience and perspective, he is supporting this freedom ride called "I Won't Back Down."

Then, the day we put it up online, Sikivu Hutchinson who does two Black free-thinking, feminist blogs, signed and posted the statement we put out ("Abortion on Demand & Without Apology for Every Woman in Every State: The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!"), as did PZ Myers who has the most popular science blog in the world.

Within 24 hours, over 350 more people signed. And a very significant thing is that many left comments that picked up on the most uncompromising parts of the statement like, "Women are not incubators," and "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," or "Abortion on demand and without apology." Some said straight up, "Thank you for finally putting this out so clearly and sharply!" This is a very powerful, if still beginning, indication that there are people out there who want to see this fascist shit called out, and who have been waiting for something like this. We want to publish this statement in North Dakota when we're there.

The statement calls out the state of emergency. It also clarifies the moral high ground on this question. It says very bluntly that yes, the country is divided over the question of abortion. And that makes sense, because abortion really concentrates how you view women. Are women fundamentally incubators and breeders of children, or are women full human beings? If they're full human beings, they have the right to decide for themselves when and whether they have children. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. So the statement cuts through that.

The fight around abortion has never been about babies. The whole anti-abortion movement is set on restoring a whole view of women that has been around for thousands of years, with the cult of virginity up until marriage that then gets morphed into the cult of motherhood and obedience to the husband. If you need proof of this, just look at the fact that they all [anti-abortion movement] oppose birth control.

The leaders of this movement are rooted in the Bible where woman (Eve) is blamed for the so-called "original sin" of tempting Adam out of the Garden of Eden. According to this myth of the Bible, everything bad that has ever happened to human beings since then is because of this—it is all Eve's (woman's) fault. And the only way women can redeem themselves for this supposedly "great crime" is to obey their husbands and to bear children. It says it right in the Bible, in Timothy 2:13-15. So this is why they are so opposed to women having access to abortion, and it's also why they all oppose birth control. Their real goal is to slam women back into a Dark Ages role.

Revolution: The war on women involves other aspects, in particular the whole culture of pornography, which keeps on getting more cruel, violent, and degrading toward women. So how do these different elements relate?

Taylor: We have identified a real state of emergency around abortion rights, and that is the leading edge of what StopPatriarchy is initiating this summer, and uniting people very broadly to fight against that. At the same time, it's important to pull back the lens and look at what this is part of. Anywhere you look on the globe, the question of the role and status of women is assuming ever more acute expression. Women are straining to enter into realms that have been for centuries and millennia closed off to women, in the workforce, education, public life. politics, and the media. At the same time, everywhere on the globe there's an intensifying of violence and degradation against women that's being unleashed. Look at the epidemic of gang rape in India and Brazil and really all over the world; or the Islamic fundamentalism that is growing in huge parts of the world, with the shrouding of women, the imprisoning of women in the homes, the raping, the honor killings of women; or look at the way that women's advance fought for in the '60s and '70s has been turned back. The sexual revolution, for instance, in this country had a very positive overall thrust to it—women casting off the shame around their sexuality, asserting for the first time in thousands of years that their sexuality was not something to be owned by men but to be experienced by women themselves on their terms and in ways that were mutually pleasurable and mutually respectful, whether with men or women or whatever. But then it and the whole movement of the times didn't go as far as it needed to go. We didn't have a revolution and this system remained intact. And so those movements ebbed, and the system really did set to work, consciously as well as spontaneously through its workings, to turn that sexual freedom into further commodification of women's bodies and the more open and vicious and mainstreaming of sexualized degradation and patriarchal male-dominated terms. So you have the mainstreaming of very cruel and violent and humiliating and degrading pornography. And this goes along with the trade in women as chattel, as sex slaves in the sex industry all over the world in the millions and millions.

And these are not just surface phenomena; these things are driven by very profound shifts taking place in the world: mass migrations caused by imperialist penetration ever more deeply into the Third World, the growth of huge slums, the ravages of war, technological developments, as well as the struggles of people in many different ways. All these very huge changes have both undermined many traditional forms of life and many traditional forms of patriarchy, while at the same time produced immense suffering and insecurity which, in turn, has contributed significantly towards what really can only be called a revenge—a hate-filled, violent, and dehumanizing revenge—against women.

So StopPatriarchy is addressing the way this is sharpening up in this country and makes the sharp point: there really is no fundamental difference between reducing women to breeders, to objects just for turning out babies, and reducing women to sex objects to be plundered and humiliated and used and abused for the sexual titillation of men. That's all part of a package of a real revenge against women. We're fighting all of that. And precisely because of how profound these shifts are and how many people are being profoundly affected by them, we see the basis for millions and millions of people to be led to stand up and fight against all this. So, that is where StopPatriarchy is coming from, even as right now we are taking responsibility for bringing together broad forces, including some who maybe don't fully agree with us on pornography, for example, to stand up right now against these growing assaults on abortion rights.

Revolution: I wonder if you could speak specifically to the claim that is made that abortion clinics target women of color—Black and Latino women, in particular—and that abortion among Black and Latino women is a form of genocide?

Taylor: So, yeah, in the anti-abortion movement there has been a campaign over several decades, but really intensifying over the last couple of years, to equate abortion among Black people and Latinos as a form of self-genocide. There have been billboards put up all over the country that say, "The most dangerous place for a Black youth is in its mother's womb." They are seizing on the fact that Black and Latino women have higher rates of abortion than white women to accuse Black and Latino women of carrying out genocide against their babies. This is one of the most vicious and hateful campaigns.

First of all it's a lie. A Black woman, a Latino woman, any woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy is not killing a baby. That's just a fact: fetuses are NOT babies. Fetuses of Black women are NOT Black babies. Fetuses of Latino women are not Latino babies. All those fetuses are subordinate parts of the woman's body. And when a woman voluntarily undergoes an abortion, that is just her making a decision over her own reproduction and her life as a whole. Her right to do this is a positive thing. And the anti-abortion movement is against sex education and against birth control, so they don't really get any right to fucking speak about this. Even more fundamentally, I don't care how many abortions a woman gets or how often it goes on among any particular section of women, if women don't have the right to determine for themselves when and whether they will have children, they are not free. And if women are not free, then no one is free—and this applies to oppressed peoples as well, if Black women are enslaved to their reproduction, if they are reduced to breeders and forced to have children against their wills, then there is no way that Black people as a whole can get free. So I reject the whole notion that there is something negative about women getting abortions—at whatever rate—when they feel they need them. If there are social conditions of life that compel a woman to terminate a pregnancy when she would have wanted to bring it to full term, those conditions and the source of them need to be fought, but that is very different than forcing them to reproduce! Women's role is not to "make babies"—it is to "hold up half the sky" (as they used to say in revolutionary China) to join together with men to rise up against all the many forms of oppression and exploitation, to be just as involved in learning about and fighting to change the whole world, and to be treated with respect and equality by men in this whole process and in every realm.

Having said that, we do have to come back to the fact that this is America. There is not only a whole history of the most horrific and brutal oppression of Black people and Latinos and Native Americans and other oppressed peoples right here within these borders (and this goes along with the subjugation of whole nations and peoples by the U.S. around the world), this oppression continues and is intensifying today. One of the forms this has taken is the coercive sterilization of oppressed women. There is a whole history of Puerto Rican women, Black women, Native American women, and other oppressed-nationality women within this country being coerced or outright forced into undergoing sterilization. Sometimes a woman would be in labor without insurance and the hospital would only deliver her baby if she signed papers agreeing to be sterilized. Sometimes women were told they would lose their welfare benefits if they didn't undergo sterilization. A lot of times women weren't even told anything. At one point, not all that long ago, something like 20-30 percent of all women of child-bearing age among these oppressed groupings had been sterilized. Now, that is a form of the system preventing a whole section of people from being able to reproduce. That is racist; frankly it's genocidal. But that is very, very different—it is a world apart—from women among the oppressed deciding for themselves which pregnancies to carry to term and which ones they do not want to continue.

And today one of the main forms this oppression is taking—speaking of genocide—is the actual genocide of mass incarceration, criminalization, caste-like segregation of the formerly incarcerated, and rampant police terror, brutality and murder. In response to the lie that has been blasted on that billboard I just mentioned, you want to know where the most dangerous place for a Black youth is? For Ramarley Graham, it was walking into his own home when police decided to chase after him and shoot him dead in front of his grandmother and his little brother. For Trayvon Martin, it was walking home from the corner store while wearing a hoodie. For Aiyana Stanley-Jones, it was sleeping on the couch with her grandmother when the police shot through the door and killed her at seven years old. Every 40 hours the police murder a Black person in this country. And then there are the gang-injunctions and stop-and-frisk and the whole cradle-to-prison pipeline—that is what is stealing the future of our Black and brown youth.

These fascists who put up these billboards and make these claims, they never talk about any of this—and because they don't, they are actually covering for the real genocide that is going on, directing oppressed people's attention away from the system and towards further blaming and shaming the very women hit hardest in many ways by this system. And then all this blame and shame against Black and Latino women is used as a bludgeon to further strip all women of the right to abortion.

So, this kind of shit really must not be tolerated—and the influence of this ideological poison (especially its influence among sections of Black and Latino masses of people) has to be fought and turned around.

Revolution: Are there any final words you want to leave people with, coming back to what is immediately posed as you and others get ready for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride?

Taylor: Returning to the whole, it really is a very urgent situation that women are facing and it is not going to just go away on its own. Bob Avakian put it very scientifically a number of years ago when he said that the question and role of the oppression of women is posing itself more and more acutely and it is inconceivable that it will be resolved on anything other than very radical terms. What is yet to be determined is whether that will be a radically reactionary resolution—and we can see the dimensions of that being hammered into place around us—or in radical revolutionary terms, which is also very possible but will require tremendous courage and conviction and scientific leadership and struggle and sacrifice to bring into being. And how this gets resolved has very high stakes for—and will interpenetrate with—the struggle to put an end to all other forms of oppression and exploitation. What happens around this, which way this gets resolved, is not scripted. In a very real way, how this unfolds, what resolution we get—really, what kind of future generations of women and young girls are going to come up into—depends on what we do.

So what is posed for us very acutely right now is the need to step out there and take on and beat back this fascist assault on women with the aim of changing how millions in this country are viewing this critical issue. We need to unite with and lead many, many others coming from many different perspectives to do this—from getting out there in the streets with us, to telling their abortion story, to going down to the local clinic to escort, to sending money to support those who are going on the Freedom Ride, to offering legal support, to many, many other ways. And any and all of us who understand the pressing need to fight for the full equality and liberation of women need in the course of this to build up the organization and influence of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women as it takes on the entire war on women, including with its focus on pornography and the sale of women's bodies as well. And, at the same time as all of this—and fundamentally this will strengthen the basis to do what I was just speaking about and it is the only way any of this will ultimately contribute to the emancipation of humanity as a whole—getting into it with people and revealing how all these horrors flow from this system of capitalism-imperialism and the kind of revolution we need, and the leadership we have, to put an end to this system and all the nightmares it brings for humanity once and for all.


Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.