Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Hits the Road!

August 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is on the road! After kickoff rallies in New York and San Francisco on July 23, the Freedom Riders set out for a month to take their message across the country: "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!"

The Freedom Ride is caravanning from both coasts to North Dakota, Wichita, Kansas, and Jackson, Mississippi—some of the states where the attack against abortion is sharpest, threatening the last remaining clinics in these states.

The original Freedom Rides in this country challenged the brutal regime of the Jim Crow South. This Freedom Ride is going up against forced motherhood, which is female enslavement.

Abortion rights are facing a STATE OF EMERGENCY!

  • In whole areas of the country, women, especially poor, oppressed, and young women, do not have access to abortion or in many cases even birth control. And this means women trapped in abusive relationships, forced to drop out of school, and who give up their hopes and dreams, taking desperate and dangerous measures to try to end their pregnancies.
  • Courageous providers of abortions are being threatened, terrorized, and stalked. They face the danger of being killed by anti-woman fascists every day. Four doctors and four employees of clinics have already been murdered!
  • On top of this already dire situation, now new laws are being proposed and enacted nearly every week in states around the country, putting restrictions on abortion providers that in many cases mean clinics will have to be shut down and that thousands more women will not have access to abortion. Already this year more than 275 new laws proposing restrictions on abortion have been introduced around the country. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have an abortion provider. Just in the month of June, more than a half-dozen states enacted provisions in their budget bills or other measures to restrict access to abortion.

Things are quickly heading to a situation where women could lose the right to abortion altogether and be forced back into a situation where they will take desperate measures to end unwanted pregnancies. And we have to be absolutely clear about what this would mean: Forcing women to have children they don't want is a form of enslavement. And women's lives are at stake.

This IS a state of emergency that the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is acting to CHALLENGE and CHANGE.

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is driving from both coasts—going right down the middle of the country for a full month on the road, building a national counteroffensive to the attacks on abortion rights. After the kickoff rallies in New York and San Francisco, it is making stops in Cleveland and Chicago, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, Jackson, Wyoming, and Bozeman, Montana. People will then converge in North Dakota, right as the laws are scheduled to go into effect that would close the only clinic there. People will then caravan south to Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated four years ago. For four years a very courageous woman, Julie Burkhardt, has fought to reopen the clinic; she has finally done so and is receiving death threats. The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will then culminate August 17 with a major rally in Jackson, Mississippi, where the one clinic left in the state is only open because of a court injunction against a law that would actually have closed it.

Sunsara Taylor and David Gunn Jr., whose father, Dr. David Gunn, was murdered in 1993 by a Christian fascist anti-abortionist, recently co-wrote an article in which they outlined the important objectives of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

  • One, we must move beyond localized fights and launch a national counteroffensive;
  • Two, we must radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women's liberation or women's enslavement;
  • Lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.

Crimes Against Women by a Criminal System

This fight for abortion rights is about the status and role of women in society. It is 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.

Fetuses are not people and don't have rights. But women are human beings and they do have rights—especially the right to thrive and be equal members of society.

The issue of abortion concentrates how women are viewed and what role they will play in society. Are women fundamentally incubators and breeders of children, or are women full human beings able to participate in every aspect of social and political life? If they're full human beings, they have the right to decide for themselves when and whether they have children.

But ever since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in this country, there has been a systematic and multidimensional counterattack against women's right to abortion. And there is a system behind all this—a CRIMINAL SYSTEM.

This system's attack on abortion—on a woman's right to NOT be a slave—is just one more example of how this system is totally illegitimate and immoral. Just one more reason why we need revolution, nothing less!

As Sunsara Taylor said in a recent interview with Revolution ("Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: From both coasts, and through the middle of the country," June 16, 2013):

"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."

Repolarizing Society

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is taking place at a time when many people are being jolted, both in their thinking and in their actions, by the criminal acts of this system. People around the country were shocked and outraged when Edward Snowden revealed how the U.S. government is spying on everyone's phone and email communications. In Texas, hundreds of people flooded the statehouse and demonstrated outside against a senate bill that, if signed into law, would close almost every abortion clinic in the state. Thousands angrily took to the streets in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.

In the midst of all this, we have to be "Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, For Revolution."

And as Sunsara Taylor said:

"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 revcom.us, getting them out everywhere....

"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."

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