Report from the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride's Culminating Rally at the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi

September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider and college student:

Outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi, August 17, 2013. Photo:

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, along with Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi NOW, Wake Up Mississippi! and the Hell No Campaign culminated together to hold a rally on August 17 outside Mississippi's lone abortion clinic, JWHO, for abortion on demand and without apology! This rally brought light to the only abortion clinic left in the whole state of Mississippi, which is open due to a federal judge temporarily blocking a law that would eventually force the clinic to shut down. The law requires every abortion provider to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. This is totally medically unnecessary! The clinic's abortion providers have previously been rejected by local hospitals, so they will not be able to meet this requirement. The judge's block on the enforcement of this law is a TEMPORARY block, which means this threat looming over the clinic's fate and the fate of women in Mississippi is still present. The Freedom Riders emphasized that this is not only a local fight within Mississippi. There is a never-ending assault on abortion rights across this country and there are four other states that have only one abortion clinic left. Members from each group spoke on these laws and restrictions after months of fighting against Mississippi's legislature on abortion access. Laurie Roberts, president of Mississippi NOW, encouraged everyone to keep fighting against these laws before "women will die and we will lose a constitutional right. In Mississippi, guns are more protected than your uterus."

Rally at Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi, August 17, 2013.

Along with the unapologetic groups of Mississippi supporters, there were clinic defenders and supporters that traveled from Louisville, Kentucky and Houston, Texas for this rally. [Freedom Rider] Alex read statements from Sikivu Hutchinson, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, actor Mark Ruffalo, and others. Mark Ruffalo's statement revealed that his own mother had an illegal abortion at a time when women were viewed as "second rate citizens" and "where a transaction of $600 cash becomes the worth of a young woman's life." Sunsara and Alex, both Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, spoke of the nationwide restrictions on reproductive rights and how this is rooted in a patriarchal system that views women as property and, ultimately, whose reproductive systems and social roles should be controlled and determined for them. This is bigger than just limited reproductive rights. This is a system that oppresses and exploits those this system deems as inferior. We see this every day from Black and Hispanic youth being wrongly arrested or killed, women constantly being objectified in every aspect of this society, and the simultaneous crimes of harassment and rape that women face every day in society, which women are then blamed for by "bringing it on to themselves" by the clothes they wear or what time of night or day they walk in public. There will be no law or new politician elected into office that will bring these attacks on reproductive rights, human rights, or women's rights to a complete halt. We MUST rely on ourselves to bring change and educate others on the constant assaults on our rights as human beings.

With all of that being said and with the courageous words from our supporters' statements, the rally moved to the front of the cheery, bright pink clinic, where clinic defenders, community supporters, clinic staff, and the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders all chanted: "Without this basic right, women can't be free. Abortion on demand and without apology," and "Break the chains, break, break the chains, if women don't have rights, we are nothing but slaves," and "No more lives of women broken, THIS clinic stays open!... Get off the couch and into motion. This clinic stays open!"


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