An Unprecedented Act:

Anti-Abortion March Brought to a Halt in DC

January 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


We received this correspondence from Mary Lou Greenberg, who was one of the protesters arrested at the January 22 counter-protest against the anti-abortionists in Washington, DC.


January 22, Washington, DC

Yesterday was really unprecedented—nothing like this has happened before. As people who read know, there have been fierce attacks on abortion, including from the Christian fascists and other religious fundamentalists, and the Catholic Church. Since the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973, they have had events in DC to counter Roe. They say it's a “march for life,” but really it's a march for female enslavement.

StopPatriarchy was determined to lead people in making a very powerful statement about what's at stake in this battle. It has to do with women's lives and future. And it has nothing to do with what the anti forces claim it is about, "saving babies." It's about whether there's women's liberation or women's enslavement! This statement was made in the face of this annual "march for life" that is always used to whip up the antis’ forces, to try to fill them with moral righteousness—which these forces have none of in reality.

They bused in thousands of people, including many young people from Catholic and other religious schools. At the speak-out we had shortly before our action, where different people spoke out, including the national president of NOW, there were several groups of school-age youths who would pass by on their way to where the anti-abortion march was gathering. And we would speak to them about the truth, about what abortion really is and what a horror banning abortion is to women. When their teachers saw that, they told the kids to hurry along—they did not want the youths to talk to us and be confronted with the truth. Hopefully what we said and the images we had of the women who died from illegal abortions made an impression on them.

January 22, Washington, DC

Washington, DC, January 22

StopPatriarchy called on people to come to the Supreme Court on January 22 and politically confront the anti-abortionists. There were people who work with StopPatriarchy, and there were others—people who had come to stand up for women, from Cleveland, Detroit, different parts of the East Coast. There were people from the NOW office in DC who were there with their signs, as well as individuals who came with home-made signs because they wanted to stand against the anti-abortion forces. There were students who had heard about this.

The DC police had a strong presence protecting the anti-abortion march. When the march turned a corner, onto the street that separates the Capitol grounds from the Supreme Court, we saw a whole phalanx of police lining the whole width of the street, in motorized sidecars and police cars. Behind them, stretching for blocks, was what the anti-abortionists claim was the largest "march for life" there has been.

Washington, DC, January 22
Photo: Special to

StopPatriarchy activists and others moved into the street and spread across it with a bright orange banner, "Abortion On Demand and Without Apology,” other signs, and huge portraits created by artists of women who had been killed by illegal abortions and abortion restrictions. The police vehicles moved towards us at a steady pace, until they were right in front of us. They got very close—one of the sidecars pushed into my leg—and then stopped, faced by determined women and men who refused to be intimidated and responded with chants: "No more 'nice girls,' we are fighting back!" and "Without this basic right, women can't be free, abortion on demand and without apology!" The anti-abortion, anti-woman march was prevented from proceeding for about 40 minutes and only got underway again when activists were arrested and forced from the street.

This was the first time that the anti-abortionists’ annual march has been brought to a halt, with an unmistakable message and delivery—a message that not only must these attacks on abortion—on women—be fought, but that we are fighting them. It was unprecedented both in the message itself and how it was said—in the streets, directly politically confronting these fascist forces that have claimed this day, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, for far too long. While there have been protests on this day each year in the past, including by Stop Patriarchy, and I personally have been part of those, it has needed to go far beyond chants and signs—although the chants and signs we did have this time were very powerful, like the huge pictures of women who died because of illegal abortions, making the point that this fight is about women's lives.

There were dozens in the street, about 75-100. It was not large in size relative to the antis’ march, but large in determination to make this political statement, and to summon other people forward, full of heart and courage. After about 30 minutes, the police moved in and began arresting people. Eight of us were arrested. They pulled us into a paddy wagon, were taken to the police station close to the Supreme Court, and were held for several hours. We were fingerprinted and charged with disorderly conduct, and we are going back there on February 11 for a hearing of our case.

In the police van, we chanted, "Every generation has an obligation to women's liberation." And there were people from different generations in that van. I'm from the generation that became active in the 1960s, and I’ve been a revolutionary communist for many years. I felt pride and great elation being there with young women who were taking up this battle—not just a battle that has to be fought generation after generation, but as part of making revolution in this country and bringing about a whole new world, with the liberation of women a key and critical part. This was a great experience for me and everyone there. Everybody felt a great elation in doing what's needed, and signaling to people all over that we are fighting to win this battle for women's lives.

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