Voices from Union Square, July 1


July 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Revolution/revcom.us interviewed people taking part in the July 1 rally for abortion rights at Union Square in New York City. Here are some excerpts.

Young Puerto Rican woman who recently hooked up with Stop Patriarchy:

New York City, Union Square, July 1 Union Square, July 1. Photo: revcom.us

Woman: I had an abortion when I was 12 years old. My mom knows about it but the rest of my family doesn't know. Because the society that we live in says it's wrong, and the way I was raised says it's wrong. And when I had my abortion I cried for days. I was told I killed my baby. And now this reality that I'm seeing here, it's teaching me that it's perfectly fine. All the suffering that I did, there's no need for that. Because it's my right. It's teaching me a lot. I'm actually learning about the Revolution Club, and I wanna get involved, because the system is really fucked up. I left my house when I was 16 years old. I've been living by myself since then. I'm 20. I try to get help but everywhere they tell me, go live with your moms. But they don't really know what's going on. The United States is supposed to be the "American Dream," but there's no dream here at all. Like I said, I've worked since I was 16, I clean house and all that. And when you get home there's no one to help you. Still struggling, still working, I have three jobs.

Revolution: What's your background?

Woman: My family's Puerto Rican. I grew up Catholic, participating in the church, six days a week, with my grandmother. It's really fucked up that they're teaching you since you're a baby...my first toy was a doll, the first toy I had was a baby. So they're teaching you since you're a girl that you need to have babies and take care of them, that's what you have to do. If I would have kept my baby, my baby would've been eight, no house, nowhere to live, nowhere to go...

Revolution: So you were at last night's meeting for #RiseUpOctober against murder and brutality by police, and you're here now. How do you see the connection between the two?

Woman: It's the same thing. We're fighting for women's rights, and for everybody's rights, so we could have a better society. So we don't have to starve while others have enough...

Revolution: Before you met up with Stop Patriarchy, were you aware of how much danger abortion rights were in?

Woman: No. I just thought it was fine because we live in New York and I got my abortion in New York, it was fine. I had no idea it was closing down or anything. That's why I'm with Stop Patriarchy. I want everybody to have the right that I had. I don't think it's fair that you have to have a baby when you become pregnant. There's a lot of reasons that a woman gets pregnant. And she should be able to choose whether to have a baby or not. That's what I think.


Young Black woman:

Woman: It's very liberating to be in an environment where there are a lot of women who have dealt with abortion or are speaking up about it. I've had an abortion before. I was 17, homeless, in college. I knew for a fact that I wouldn't be able to take care of a kid. And just having that option, it meant life to me at that moment. Because I didn't think that without parents...I was a ward of the state at that time...so without parents, without a stable boyfriend, I just knew that if I had a child at that moment, I probably would've continued the cycle that my mom brought me, my brother and my sister into. She wasn't able to take care of us and had to put us in foster care. So yeah, I don't regret having had an abortion either. And I think women definitely should have the option, a choice to be able to make a decision whether or not they want to have a child, to bring children into an environment where they're not wanted or they can't be taken care of. Because another thing that's important to realize is that there are a lot of people with mental issues because they grew up in households where they weren't wanted or grew up in environments where they weren't able to be taken care of. So I just think it's very important if we're gonna stop the cycle of people with mental illness, homelessness, all of that stuff, to have an option and not taking that away from people. Because I think we will have more people that will be on the streets, or taking their lives—like some of the stories that we heard today—so having a choice is very important, for sure.

Revolution: You were also at the launch meeting for #RiseUpOctober yesterday. How do you see the connection between the fight against murder by police and the fight for the right to abortion?

Woman: Yeah, just people being free to live their lives. Police feel like they have the right to take lives just because of their authority. And that's the same with this— I feel like the government or whoever else decides that women should not be able to have abortions, you're putting people's lives in the hands of other people and not your own. So I guess that's a connection in a way.


White woman in her 20s with National Women's Liberation, a feminist group:

I'm from South Dakota, one of the first states to violently, really violently, push back on allowing women abortions, so this feels especially visceral and close to home, literally, for me. So that's part of why I'm here. Because I always thought in high school if I got pregnant I wouldn't be able to get an abortion in South Dakota. And now that's actually a reality for a lot of people. So that's the main reason why I'm here... I'm a preschool teacher and I see the way that having a child, it just... I don't want to say ruins your life, I mean I'm a preschool teacher and I don't want to say that. But your life is totally different. It's not inconvenience, not a lifestyle change. It's your whole life gone. So it's really important for women to be able to do what they want to do.


White guy, about 30, who was part of the rally, wearing bloody pants:

I came for the rally, because I've been involved for about a week and a half, two weeks. I saw them [Stop Patriarchy] at Brooklyn Pride. It's a strong women's movement, and it's a strong issue. Because it's not just limited to women, not limited to gays, limited to Black people, limited to everything. People need to wake up and realize that. It IS a human rights issue, not just Black or white or gay or straight, whatever it may be.


Latina in her 20s who was passing by and stopped for the rally:

Woman: The Supreme Court has already ruled that getting an abortion is legal. And just the state of Texas right now, it's atrocious... illegalizing abortion. It leads to more deaths, that's why you guys are here. And again, it's our bodies, our choice. It's between us and our healthcare providers. No one should tell me how to plan my future. I'll do it when I'm ready, on my own terms. Keep religion out of it. Also, very politicized. Look at it from an actual medical standpoint. It's absolutely upsetting and disgusting that right wing states are looking to basically close abortion clinics.

Revolution: What do you think of the "without apology" part of it?

Woman: Why would you have to apologize to anyone? You're in control of your own body, your own future. You should be able to plan your own future on your own terms. Why would you have to apologize?... And women who seek abortions, the majority are low income. They need access to this. And now the right-wing is saying "save Black babies." But why don't you try to save them once they're born? And why don't you try to provide more welfare programs for these single mothers, these children?


Savita HalappanavarSavita Halappanavar's picture was among the photos of women who died from lack of abortion care being held up at the rally.

Older woman from Switzerland, who had lived in Ireland for a while:

I was walking by and recognized the woman who died in Ireland and it made me cry. Ireland has the right to gay marriage, but not to abortion. This woman begged for an abortion and they wouldn't give it to her. This was horrible. I didn't know they were taking this right away. I have my own story about this—I had to pay a lot of money for it in Switzerland. And while it was legal, all the time afterwards whenever I was having trouble with money or other problems and I felt sad, people would tell me I was sad or depressed because I had an abortion. Whenever something is bad in your life and you feel bad, they said it was because of my abortion.


Latina high school student who joined the rally on the spot:

Revolution: How much were you aware of the attacks on abortion rights?

Student: I wasn't really aware. I always knew it was a problem, but I never knew just how severe people felt about this. Because I feel like it's an individual right, I think every woman should be able to have it, and every woman should not have to apologize for doing it. It's a health issue. It's something you do to take care of yourself. It's nothing to be ashamed of. And I really do appreciate this kind of stuff [the demo]. Bringing out awareness. A message like this really needs to be put out there.

Revolution: What about with your friends and family--what do they think about abortion?

Student: My mother, she is very strict. But she never put me down. If I ever talked to her about abortion, she always told me that if I ever felt like it was something that I wanted to do, then I should do it, and nobody else should tell me otherwise. Because it's my body. And especially if the child was placed inside of me through a violent act, then I have every right to have an abortion, or anybody has a right to an abortion. And it's not something you should be ashamed of. It's something that you just should have a right to do it. No questions asked. You go into a clinic and ask for one, and you wouldn't get a stare, you won't get, I don't know, some sort of attitude about it. It should be something that's just given to you.

Revolution: What about among your high school friends?

Student: I'm not gonna lie, there's a lot of people who are pregnant in my high school. But I do know a few who've had an abortion. And I've talked to them about it, and they've said that they don't regret it. Of course they felt bad, felt like they were killing something. But I told them, you should never feel like some sort of "murderer," like it's your fault. Because it's not your fault. If you wanted to do it, you should do it. It's not something that you should be put down on, not something you should be bashed about. It's just something that everyone should have a right to have.


To learn more about the fight to break the chains and unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution:

Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity


To get involved in the summer effort to Take Patriarchy By Storm:

End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women section of this website




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