Houston: Getting into it with people on abortion on demand and without apology and opposing slavery in every form

January 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From readers:

On Saturday, January 17, a small group of people came out to watch the Stop Patriarchy National Speakout webcast at an art space in the heart of a Black community. The space was offered by an activist/artist who felt that it’s time for different groups to come together, especially to resist the war on women. Having listened intently to the testimony of women describing the horror of pre-Roe v. Wade illegal abortions, one college student got so upset by hearing of this suffering that she said that she had to leave. As she left, she said that she is planning to be out in Austin confronting the woman haters next weekend. Several others who attended also made plans to go to Austin.

Later in the weekend, revolutionaries went out broadly into the community, and called on people to take on the war on women as part of opposing slavery in every form and to join the contingent going to Austin next Saturday to fight for women's right to abortion and confront the pro-“lifers” as they rally for forced motherhood. As we got out the sampler edition of the compendium Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution and the Revolution newspaper, a couple of wild debates broke out. Some of those we talked with not only supported the right to abortion, but also began arguing with their friends and family in its defense. 

We approached a group of people sitting outside watching a football game. As we ran down the need to confront the woman-hating “right to lifers,” an older man responded, “Wait a minute—I’m ‘right to life’! If a woman doesn’t want a baby she can give it up for adoption.” “What if she got raped?” replied a younger man. “Are you gonna make her carry that for 9 months?” The older man started to say, “I think…” when he was interrupted by the other, saying, “Really it doesn’t matter what you think. What about what the woman goes through?" Then a young woman said that “Women need to be in control of everything in their life.” Meanwhile a few feet away, the young woman’s mother kept repeating, “Nobody should tell a woman what she can do with her body, with her life. It’s her decision.” We got into how we need to resist, that the powers that be have made a lot of headway in restricting that right, and are determined to take it away, and then the old man came out with “Well I don’t think the government should tell women what to do.” 

Later on several others stopped by, who also supported women’s right to abortion and the conversation turned to where all this repression is coming from: why so many people of color are locked up, why the war on the people, why the war on women. A couple of people were thinking that it’s all about money and population control.

At a nearby housing project, we got into a heated debate with a young male college student and a young woman. When we first engaged them, she was adamantly against abortion—calling it murder, and he was sort of ambivalent, but said, “Well women can do whatever they wanna do.” They both agreed that if a woman gets raped then that is a different story: “She shouldn’t have to see that rapist every time she looks at her child,” so in that case, the woman said, abortion would be justified.

We posed that if it's okay in that case, why not in all cases? We went back and forth and got into, for example, how embryos, zygotes and fetuses are not children, so abortion is not murder. But when we posed to them the question, if these so-called right to lifers are so dedicated to preventing abortion because they claim it’s "baby-killing," why are they trying to outlaw birth control and sex education? The young woman said, “Oh no, I’m totally for birth control.”

But we insisted that she see the bigger picture and confront the contradiction: that if it were really about babies, then wouldn’t these “right to lifers” do everything possible to make sure to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, like by supporting contraception? And the fact that they do just the opposite is an exposure that this has nothing to do with babies and everything to do with keeping women enslaved. This made her really think, and she had no answer. While she left the discussion still not convinced, it was clear that she was agonizing over all this. Meanwhile, the young guy really got the point—and how all the ways that women are oppressed in this society is about being relegated to things, not people, and he didn’t go for that. He said that he was considering going to protest the woman-haters.  

Another woman, maybe in her 30s, stopped in her tracks to talk: “Men expect you to cook, clean, give them sex, but then when you need child support, well…” and she was tired of it. She described how she had lost her baby to a rare heart defect when he was 6 weeks old. She said that if she had known that he was not going to survive, she would’ve had an abortion, and saved herself and her child all the pain and heartache of watching him suffer, just to see him die. And on top of all that, he may have been saved by very expensive surgery, which she could not afford, but still probably never would have gotten, because his time would have run out as he was stuck on a waiting list. Which says something about how not only are women treated like things in this society, but how the lives of the people mean nothing to those who run this system. She said she couldn't go to the protest, but took a bunch of flyers for her and her sister to get out, and wanted to find out more about this movement.  

A neighborhood pastor asked to get a copy of the compendium. He said that he didn’t know that there is a war being waged on women. He said that he is a little different from most people in the neighborhood because he is not absolutely against women having abortions, but he is against the government forcing women to not have choices. He had read a copy of Revolution a few weeks ago, and he said that there were a lot of points that he thought were important. He said that he knows that something has to be done about the police getting away with murdering the youth, and the suffering that people go through. He said that BA’s quote about how you can’t break all the chains except one (BAsics 3:22) made sense to him, but at the same time, he said he wasn’t sure about revolution.


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