Every Year Droves of Anti-Abortion Fanatics Mobilize on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade...


by Sunsara Taylor | December 5, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Clara Duvall

Savita Halappanavar

Becky Bell

Rosie Jimenez

Pauline Shirley

Gerri Santoro

Some of the hundreds of thousands of women around the world who have died because they were denied access to safe and legal abortion.

Each year on the anniversary of the legalization of abortion in this country, tens—perhaps hundreds—of thousands of people descend on Washington, DC and San Francisco to stand in public opposition to women's right to abortion. They call themselves the March for “Life,” but what do these marches really stand for? What is the view of women they are promoting? What role are they playing in the larger political and legal landscape of escalating assault on women's right to abortion? And how must those of us who care about abortion rights and women's lives respond?

First, the March for “Life” opposes all abortions in all circumstances for all women. They make no exception for women who are raped. No exception for the health—or even the life—of the woman. No exception when the fetus has a severe anomaly or doesn't stand a chance of surviving. For them, from a fertilized egg has the same value as the woman or girl whose body it is in. Their principles clearly state: “the life of a preborn child shall be preserved and protected to the same extent as the life of, e.g., an infant, a young adult or a middle-aged prominent national figure... There can be no exceptions.” In other words, the idea that pregnancy from rape is a “gift from god” is not a “fringe” position within the “pro-life” movement. It is the mainstream. This year the March's theme is, “Every Life Is a Gift.”

Second, this March is a rallying point for the entire anti-abortion movement. It is the largest anti-abortion gathering in the world. Sitting members of Congress and Senate, sitting presidents, the Pope, and the whole spectrum of religious fanatics have taken part. Some put on a compassionate tone and claim that “abortion harms women.” Others openly express the truly fascist core of the March's politics. Nelly Gray, the March's now-deceased founder, often called for holding “feminist abortionists” accountable for their “crimes,” invoking the Nuremberg Trials whose penalty was death.

In recent years, this March has transformed into a year-round political force. The week surrounding the March is filled with trainings for students, religious leaders, bloggers, and others. Tens of thousands of Catholic school kids and youth ministries are bussed in, indoctrinated, and charged with the life-mission to be the generation that ends abortion. This has helped fuel the unrelenting nationwide assault on abortion which has risen to unprecedented levels in the last few years. Since 2011, more than 200 restrictions have been passed against abortion at the state level and dozens of clinics have been forced to close. Six states have only one abortion clinic left. With the landslide Republican victories in the recent elections, all this will surely continue.

Third, this anti-abortion mobilization has had a profound impact on public opinion. Especially among young people and even among those who support abortion rights, abortion is increasingly thought of along the spectrum that starts with “tragic” and ends with “genocidal.” More and more shame is cast on the women who seek abortions. Fewer and fewer people feel unapologetic about abortion rights while those who oppose it feel completely emboldened. This is partly because young people do not remember the days before legal abortion, with the shotgun weddings, girls being “sent away,” and thousands dying from botched abortions. But it is also because the anti-abortion movement systematically indoctrinates and mobilizes their youth as foot-soldiers while the “pro-choice” side teaches people to defensively avoid the word “abortion” altogether in favor of things like “privacy” and “healthcare.”

All this is extremely dangerous. Fetuses are not babies, abortion is not murder, and women are not incubators. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting an abortion for whatever reason a woman chooses. What is wrong is forcing women to have children against their will.

Yet, this is precisely what is happening already in huge swaths of this country and many parts of the world. Especially rural and very poor areas, women face extreme difficulty terminating unwanted pregnancies. Many are unable to come up with the money, childcare and time off work for significant travel and an overnight stay to comply with mandatory waiting periods. Immigrant women who lack papers can't travel through fascist check-points near the U.S./Mexico border. Young women and girls in 38 states can't get abortions without parental involvement. Already, a great many either resign to having a child they did not want or risk their lives—and prison time—to self-induce abortions.

Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. It means that women have to foreclose their other aspirations and dreams, scramble or remain in abusive situations, and bear and raise a child they did not want. They have to endure the weight of thousands of years of shame and judgment that comes down on women. And all women and girls live in a society where they know that their lives do not matter as much as a clump of unformed tissue.

It is long past time for that this massive anti-woman March be publicly and massively opposed! It must no longer be the case that a fascist anti-abortion message is the only one heard loud and clear on Roe v. Wade, shaping public opinion. It must no longer be the case that the anti-abortion fanatics are the only ones rallying the new generation to take the future of abortion rights—and of women—on as a primary life mission.

Those of us who do not want to see women forced to have children against their will must step out in defiant counter-protest this year. We must change the terms of this fight, declaring loudly “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology” and give millions more the confidence to say this too. We must hold up the pictures of the women who have died from illegal abortions and wake people up to the fact that this fight is over women's liberation or women's enslavement. We must model—through die-ins and other defiant acts—the courage and political clarity that can inspire and call forward many others.

In early January (date to be announced very soon), Stop Patriarchy will hold a major Abortion Rights Speak Out in New York City which will be webcast nationally. People across the country should organize viewing parties in their homes and public places that bring people together to learn the truth about this emergency, what is at stake for women, and how to take meaningful action to join with or support the Roe v. Wade protests. Then, on January 22 in DC and January 24 in San Francisco, people need to bus and caravan and converge at the national mobilizations counter-protesting the Marches for “Life.” It is time for students, artists, grandparents, professionals, religious folks as well as atheists, musicians and many more to come together and stand up. It is time to show our strength, courage and determination not to allow women to be forced backwards any further and to win a whole better future for women everywhere.

This Roe v. Wade anniversary, we fight back!

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

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