From the Streets of Jackson, Mississippi:

Defending Abortion Rights, Taking Patriarchy By Storm

August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Stop Patriarchy is in Jackson, Mississippi, July 31 - August 9 to Take Patriarchy by Storm and fight for abortion on demand and without apology. The following is an interview with Stop Patriarchy initiator and Revolution correspondent Sunsara Taylor, who is in Jackson.


Revolution: What are you and Stop Patriarchy doing in Mississippi right now?

Sunsara Taylor: Right now in Mississippi, we’re in beastly heat! But we’re down here because across the country there is an emergency facing women’s right to abortion—whether women will be able to determine for themselves when and whether to have a child. There is a war on abortion rights all across the country, but concentrated in the Deep South. And down here in Mississippi there is only one abortion clinic left in the entire state. Stop Patriarchy has organized people to come here from all around the country, to stand up for abortion on demand and without apology, and to set an example for people around the country that we have to change the whole terms in this battle around abortion.

It’s never been about babies. It has always been about whether women will be enslaved by forced motherhood, whether they will be forced to have babies against their will, or be full human beings. And a lot of this is concentrated in the Deep South. So we’re down here. And we’re going out to the neighborhoods and communities.

Revolution: Tell us a little about what you’re encountering as you go out in the community.

Sunsara Taylor: It’s just our second day here, so we’re just getting started, but we fanned out into a bunch of areas in Jackson. Jackson is a predominantly African-American city, with a high rate of poverty and a lot of pretty desperate conditions. We’ve been making a point of going into these communities of the most left behind, the most cast out, those with the least access to healthcare, to decent jobs. Places that are literally falling apart, porches collapsing—you know, Deep South poverty. But we’ve been talking about only one abortion clinic left, and women need this access to abortion.

Overwhelmingly we are encountering people deeply conflicted about abortion. Most of them, their initial response is that abortion is wrong. It’s a sin. The Bible Belt is thick here. But as we talk to people, it’s very interesting. Most people know women who have either needed an abortion or had one. One woman told us about a woman she knows who self-induced an abortion with a coat hanger. Another woman told us about having to bear six children, even though she was unable to raise them in conditions of deep poverty, because she was so deeply convinced abortion is wrong.

We took out the Fetuses Are Not Babies brochure, a beautiful brochure. We walked through it with one woman. She pointed to a picture in the brochure and her face kind of lit up, and she said, “That’s what the baby looks like at first?” The person talking with her said, no—that’s what the embryo looks like. Then she pointed to a picture and said, “So that’s a baby at 10 weeks?” Our volunteer said no, that’s a fetus. Finally, we asked, pointing at a picture of a fetus, is this murdering a baby? She wasn’t so sure. She didn’t change her mind but she asked to keep the brochure and read it again.

People don’t have any scientific understanding of what a fetus is, what the process of pregnancy is. They’ve been told their whole lives this is murder, this is a sin. We’re encountering a lot of thinking fostered by the church. But also there is a lot of receptivity.

Another thing that’s interesting, there are volunteers down here with the Revolution Club taking out Revolution newspaper. The people taking out Revolution newspaper, as soon as they take it out, people recognize Sandra Bland’s face on the cover. And I have to say they all know who she is, in the Black community here. There is a seething anger, a real eagerness to talk about that. One woman told us about her son who was shot—though not killed—by police, and went into what her son went through. She’s still fighting to get compensation for that. People followed Walter Scott, what happened in Texas, what happened to Mike Brown. So even as we’re out there mainly talking about abortion, we’re making connections between what this system is doing to oppressed people in different ways. Even though that’s not the main thing we’re doing here, I have to comment on it—it is so palpable.

The other thing is, the more we’ve been talking to people, in the neighborhood—one woman said she didn’t know what she thought about abortion. As we were going through the pamphlet she said, “I’ve been a victim of the school I went to.” She didn’t have strong feelings about abortion either way. People think about abortion and never think about women—trapped in abusive relationships, or being forced to drop out of school, or having their lives foreclosed—there’s more and more clarity over what women face. But the more we talk about women, and what women face overall—this comes together.

Revolution: The science and reality that a fetus is not a baby comes together with the experience of women’s oppression in changing how people are even seeing what the question is.

Sunsara Taylor: Right, there is the science, but also bringing out the lives women face. The more those connections are made, I think, the more people start to think about women’s access to abortion rights as something that affects women. Both the science of why fetuses are not babies, but also the more they know about the conditions of women, the more it shifts how they think about abortion.

Another very interesting thing: Almost nobody has any idea that there’s only one abortion clinic in this state—they don’t know it’s under attack, they don’t know that it’s part of a national crisis. There’s a very active community around the clinic that knows about this and is following it closely, but when you get out more broadly in the community, people don’t know. Rights are being taken away. Women are being hounded and harassed, and those most affected don’t even know these rights are being taken away.

Yesterday, we were doing a summation from first day out—and one woman reported she told a guy: “We’re here for abortion on demand and without apology.” He kept saying, “What? Why?” So she told him three times, and finally, he said, “Wait you’re here to support the clinic? I’ve never heard of anyone coming here to support the clinic.” Everyone has heard of people who are against abortion but this was all new.

Revolution: For people reading this who want to assist in this critical work, how can people help?

Sunsara Taylor: One is—take this “A Fetus Is Not a Baby”—this pamphlet which is available online—print or order copies from Even if you print out copies on your own computer, read it yourself, and share with people. Especially now with these bullshit lies about Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts—it’s really important that people learn themselves, understand what a fetus is, why it is not a baby, and why a woman must have right to decide whether to have a baby or have an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. You need to learn the science yourself and spread it. Make copies, share with your family, with your friends, with your church group, leave it at the laundromat.

The second thing is, this Friday night, August 7, tune in live at, 7 pm CDT. Bring friends together and watch it.

Third, go to and make a donation to fund this work.

Revolution: And of course people can get with and join Stop Patriarchy.

Sunsara Taylor: Yes, get directly involved in Stop Patriarchy. Hook up with a chapter in your area, or get in touch and we’ll help you start one.

Revolution: Anything else you want to share?

Sunsara Taylor: Yeah, last night we went into Hooters and disrupted it.

Revolution: Really!

Sunsara Taylor: We’re here to stand up for abortion rights in the heart of this emergency but Stop Patriarchy takes on all enslavement and degradation of women, challenging patriarchy in lots of different ways. So on Saturday night people stormed into Hooters, with big signs “Women are NOT bitches, hos, punching bags, breeders, or sex objects―WOMEN ARE FULL HUMAN BEINGS!” and made a public service announcement that Hooters objectifies women. It wasn’t long before some very aggressive bouncers threw everybody out, but the point was made. It was a show stopper. People were in shock, they couldn’t believe it was happening. It was really uplifting.



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