An Initial Report on

Take Patriarchy By Storm, Mississippi 2015 – Abortion On Demand and Without Apology

by Stop Patriarchy | August 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


For ten days, from July 31 until August 9, Stop Patriarchy brought more than 20 volunteers from across the country to stand up for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology and to Take Patriarchy By Storm in Jackson, Mississippi. 


This project took place at a time when LIES about abortion – the mischaracterization of abortion as the “murder of babies” – were at an all time high.  Cable news was constantly replaying dishonest videos which accused Planned Parenthood of “trafficking baby parts.”  Moves were afoot at both the state and national level to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood.  Mike Huckabee, a serious contender for the Republican presidential ticket, suggested that federal troops be called out to shut down abortion clinics in open defiance of the Supreme Court.  Other presidential candidates joined him in insisting that abortion be banned even in the case of rape or when the life of the woman is at risk.  In “opposition,” major Democrats joined in chastising the representatives of Planned Parenthood before meekly expressing support for abortion rights.  All this was coming on top of and intensifying decades of attack.  More than 330 laws restricting abortion rights had been introduced already this year, with more than 50 passed into law.


Our mission was to step to the front lines of the fight to defend and expand women's right to abortion, to model a radically new approach that takes back the high moral ground, and to link this up with the fight against all forms of the enslavement and degradation of women.

By bringing volunteers from around the country, Stop Patriarchy aimed to shine a national spotlight on Mississippi, making clear that what happens in any one place is part of the national fight over abortion and women's role in society.  We aimed to unite with and popularize the defiance and courage of those who own, work at, and defend this last clinic in the state.  And we aimed to model a new and radically different approach to taking on and defeating the war on women and on abortion rights in particular.


We chose Mississippi this summer because it is not only one of six states with only one abortion clinic left, it is a place where laws currently on the books nearly guarantee that there will never be a second abortion clinic in the state. It is also in the heart of both the Bible Belt, where the weight of fundamentalist, anti-abortion religion is the heaviest, and the Lynching Belt, where Black people have faced some of the most concentrated oppression, segregation, terror, state violence, criminalization, and intense poverty for hundreds of years.  For this reason, Black women and poor women are hardest hit by the lack of access to reproductive healthcare.


Outreach in Oppressed Communities



Pink House


We fanned out into many of the impoverished Black communities that make up much of Jackson, Mississippi.  Every day, we knocked on doors and sat in people's living rooms, breaking down the science in our incredible new brochure of why "A Fetus is NOT a Baby."  People who supported abortion rights already were emboldened in their stance.  Many, many people who told us initially that they were "against abortion" had their minds deeply changed through this, and began telling us their own stories of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade, of relatives who worked in the fields and still had 22 babies, of women being viciously harassed on their way into the last abortion clinic in the state.  Others, who still disagreed, thanked us for talking with them and acknowledged that they had new things that they'd never heard before to think about.  Quite a few people took stacks of the pamphlets to get to their friends and female relatives.

Pop-up Protests Against ALL Forms of Female Enslavement

Throughout the city, we held "pop-up protests."  Twice we demonstrated at a busy intersection, handing out flyers to cars at the stoplight and holding up the huge "Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!" banner.  Twice we "popped up" in Walmart parking lots, drawing a crowd, stirring controversy, and getting out stickers and brochures.  Once we disrupted the dinner rush at Hooters restaurant, making a statement that women are NOT sex objects.  We did the same at Twin Peaks, a similarly objectifying restaurant.  By the end of the week, we were running into people all over the city who asked, “Was that you I saw at Hooters... Was that you on the street for abortion rights?... Was that you who knocked on my friend's door?”

Escorting Women and Defending the Clinic

During the days that the last abortion clinic was seeing patients while we were down there, we joined with the Pink House Defenders to escort patients into the clinic.  As we lent our support to the women and the defenders, we learned first hand the harassment and shame that is heaped upon women in Mississippi.  Each day, with the cooperation and support of the clinic, Sunsara Taylor interviewed patients who wanted to share their stories, from which we all learned a great deal and which she wrote about here.  On Wednesday, August 5, we were honored to join the owner, staff, and defenders of the Pink House at a spirited celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Jackson Women's Health Organization (aka: The Pink House, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi).

Fondren's First Thursday (Major Street Party)

On Thursday night, August 6, we made a huge scene in the midst of the big downtown outdoor monthly party (Fondren's First Thursday), getting out hundreds of stickers, signs, brochures, and signing people up to get involved.  One team joined the Pink House Defenders in setting up a table on the Jackson Women's Health Organization's property and doing outreach to the droves of people passing by.  This included countering anti-abortion fanatics who held threatening signs which named the doctors at the clinic and pushed dishonest and woman-hating literature on the crowds.  Other teams draped themselves in stickers and went out into the throngs of the street party, drawing knots of people eager to get stickers and literature.  By the end of the night, the fluorescent messages of the StopPatriarchy stickers could be seen on hundreds of people throughout the crowd and many had signed up to get involved. 

Abortion Rights People's Hearing: Spotlight Mississippi

The efforts of the week culminated in a powerful Abortion Rights People's Hearing: Spotlight Mississippi on Friday, August 7.  This featured a dramatic reading of the patient interviews, reports from the volunteers, a powerful video featuring testimony from people in the neighborhoods speaking out about abortion, a beautiful video-message from Merle Hoffman (CEO of Choices Medical Center in New York), a gripping speech from Diane Derzis (owner of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi), a rousing talk by Sunsara Taylor, and comments from the Pink House Defenders.  This event put women back in the center of the fight over abortion, telling their stories and bringing alive the tremendous importance of the fight for abortion rights as integral to the full liberation of women.  It also challenged and mobilized people to get involved in this fight. This event took place at the Soul Wired Cafe in Jackson, Mississippi and was livestreamed to gatherings in Honolulu, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Cleveland and beyond.

A New Culture and Morality

Throughout it all, we lived together and took up the morality and culture of real liberation. People put the collective mission first while valuing and caring for every individual in that context. Political differences and ideas and questions were raised openly, and everyone worked to set aside ego to grapple together over what was really true and what was in the best interests of the people.  Differences of gender, sexual orientation, race and nationality were respected and learned from.  And particular attention was paid to learning deeply from the Black people who generously took us into their homes and shared their insights, questions, lives and struggles with us.

And to Cap it All Off

On our final day, we woke early so that we could pack and ship all our remaining materials and still have time to sum up our experience together, strategize about future plans, visit the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center to learn more about the history of Black Mississippians, eat barbeque, and cap it all off with live music and dancing.


We are proud to say that we accomplished a great deal.  While there is a tremendous amount more that must be done, we are in a stronger position to rise to the next challenges because of advances we made in three key areas.

First, we brought to light more fully the scope of the emergency facing women's right to abortion and the lives and conditions of those hardest hit. This is essential because most people today are not aware of the either how far the attack on abortion has advanced, or what it really means when abortion access dries up. Through the work we did in the community and through telling these stories in the People's Hearing and in the work we will continue to publish and speak about, we are putting women back in the center of the fight over abortion and waking people up to the stakes of this emergency. People cannot be won to fight something if they don't even recognize the problem.

Second, building upon the work we have undertaken in the last several years of Abortion Rights Freedom Rides and beyond, we modeled a radically new winning approach to this fight: daring to change minds, to take on anti-scientific beliefs and tradition, to put women back in the center of this fight, and to challenge new people to join this struggle. We did not attempt to “reframe” the question of abortion as “healthcare” or simply a matter of “privacy” in order to “appeal to where people are at.”  In reality, that just means appealing to how people's opinions have been shaped by decades of assault on abortion rights by Christian fascists and thousands of years of patriarchal traditions about “women's place.”  Instead, we boldly told the truth: that fetuses are NOT babies, abortion is NOT murder, and women are NOT incubators. Our confidence that everyone can understand the science behind these statements and that everyone can be won to grasp the importance of standing up for women was confirmed and deepened. Right in the heart of the Bible Belt, where the weight of fundamentalist religious tradition is heaviest, we changed people's minds and won people who had opposed abortion to support Abortion On Demand and Without Apology.  If this can be done in the Bible Belt, it can – and needs to – be done nationwide and beyond!

Third, we trained an experienced core of new leaders who can take this fight back across the country with new confidence and this new and radical winning approach.  This happened on the theoretical level; through grappling with this daily amongst each other and out amongst the masses, we learned more deeply the science of reproduction and the centrality of abortion rights to women's full liberation. This happened through the deep exchanges with the masses of people.  We will never forget the harassment we witnessed, or the women we got to know, while escorting at the clinic.  We will never forget sitting in people's living rooms and hearing stories of dangerous illegal abortions, of back-breaking labor in the fields with child after child, of terrible violence at the hands of the police as well as from men who have been trained by this patriarchal system, and more that was shared with us.  We feel a solemn responsibility to act on what was learned and to fight with renewed determination for a world where these horrors never happen again.  And this training/forging happened in the ways that we learned to work together, to solve problems together, and to involve and organize new people to take this fight forward.


There is a tremendous amount more that needs to be shared from this experience, stories that still need to be told and deeper lessons drawn out.  At the same time, the assault on abortion rights and the all around war on women has only further intensified.  We are actively working to strategize with each other and with many other broader forces to develop a strategic plan and vision for stepping up the fight and defeating this war on women.  Expect to hear more from us soon!  If you would like to be part of this process or if you have insights or ideas, please write to us at:



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