Vigils and Protests Respond to Attack on Planned Parenthood

Updated December 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


San Francisco

From a reader

Responding to Sunsara Taylor's call to respond to the mass shooting and hostage situation at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs by STANDING UP against the whole assault against women's right to abortion—about two dozen people hit the streets in San Francisco to challenge others to oppose this tragic and unnecessary crime, and stand unapologetically for women's liberation.

A handful of people responded to the call from Stop Patriarchy. One mother-and-daughter pair came from Saratoga, and another from Fremont; they were outraged at the situation, and couldn't restrain their outrage. They wanted to talk about abortion in positive ways, and stand firmly on the right side, be part of something disruptive that sounds the alarm, and against a violent and woman-hating anti-abortion movement. They held two bright banners that read: FORCED MOTHERHOOD IS FEMALE ENSLAVEMENT and ABORTION PROVIDERS ARE HEROES.

Several news channels were there, and they interviewed organizers and others. There was compelling agitation and dynamic interactions between people based on their sense of justice. The local evening news portrayed a determined force that was outraged about the Colorado Springs shooting, and was determined to change the terms of the abortion debate.

Among the people who came out were people from the movement for revolution. We agitated long and hard against fascism, all the ways the American fascist forces are lashing out in reaction, encouraged by ruling class bigots like Donald Trump, against Black people (the shooting of protesters in Minnesota, Confederate flag rallies), against immigrants, against science and reason, against the people of the "Middle East," against preserving the planet's resources... and against abortion. These fascists are not comical or "irrelevant" - that part of the ruling class is unleashing nasty archaic lunatic fundamentalist terrorists with all that hot wind. They hate abortion because they hate the idea of women stepping out of the ancient role of property of men and forced breeders of children. People of conscience have got to fight back now, to change how millions of people think and act. And everyone who wants to see a world free from fascism, capitalism, exploitation, police brutality, and the oppression of women, needs to get with the movement for revolution, and dig into what Bob Avakian in particular has uncovered: the method, strategy, vision and plan for a new stage of communist revolution.

A few young people who got with Stop Patriarchy over the summer were proud to be part of this protest. They spread materials that bring the kind of analysis people need to understand what is at stake, march through the shopping crowds the day after Black Friday, and invite others in.

One young woman on the bullhorn walked through what it means for women to be forced into motherhood against their wills in the real world, and to live in fear every day. How women with unwanted pregnancies have to pay to travel, have to suffer shame, have to become more dependent on family (if they can) or much worse, and have their very lives threatened by people "on a mission from God" willing to gun them down out of deep hatred—just because they are women! This is worth fighting.

We took off on short marches and got out the call to action to counterprotest the massive anti-abortion Walk for "Life" at that same spot on January 23. Every time we agitated we drew a crowd and every time we left, new people (though sometimes 1 or 2) marched with us. Some of us got out hundreds of copies of Break ALL the Chains and connected people up with the program for women's liberation represented in Bob Avakian's new synthesis.

A strong minority of the thousands of people that saw us that day expressed deep appreciation and gratitude that this was going down, and in particular that we gave them "something to do" in response to this horrible tragedy in Colorado Springs. Stop Patriarchy was on a mission to bring out the objective of the anti-abortion agenda as slamming women back in time, into subhuman status, and this was very clarifying for some people. We challenged people: It's not enough to be right! It's not enough to have an opinion. The anti-abortion movement is winning. Which side are you on?

Two young women from Texas stopped to tell their stories and were happily recruited into Stop Patriarchy. The last year has made them sick—dozens of abortion clinics were forced to close in Texas. They were ready to act, and could quickly see how fighting to change the terms of this debate ("choice" / "life" v. women as human / women as incubators) is an urgent need.

A clear line was drawn. Several people who joined in got connected, and some who had responded to the call had not been active recently, but took materials and left on a mission to hit their campus or tell their friends to get into this fight.

In summation, one woman who had traveled from another county said she was shocked that there were not hundreds of people in the streets in response to the Colorado shooting. So we got into what is standing in the way of people's fighting spirit when it comes to abortion? What do people need to understand? There was agreement that what is at stake here, and what the anti-abortion movement represents, is not widely known. It's our responsibility to change that.

People were coming from different perspectives throughout the day. And within that, there is a revolutionary perspective that is being projected here! That's a good thing, because there is a solution to all this systemic oppression, and people need to know it. You may think of yourself as feminist, or humanist, or anything you'd like; it really, really matters that you came out to fight. You seized the moment, and when it's not only controversial but demonized and almost criminalized, you stood up for abortion and women everywhere. This and much more is what it will take to change how people think so they can fight to stop the attacks on abortion rights and the lives of women and the doctors who help them.

And among us we need to continue to discuss and debate the big questions. Is it true that the anti-abortion movement is the American Taliban? That they are about enslaving women? That capitalism can't fully liberate women? Get into it. Hear what Bob Avakian has to say about why the world is this way right now and what can be done about it, and decide whether or not it is true. Because this moment truly does demand we cast off illusions, look reality in face, and act on that.

Honolulu, Hawaii, November 28

Honolulu, Hawaii

From a reader:

In spite of very short notice, more than a dozen people responded to Sunsara Taylor's call for an emergency action for abortion rights and women's lives on Saturday, November 28 and held signs at a busy street corner outside of Honolulu's largest shopping center. Many drivers honked their horns; pedestrians stopped to thank us. One woman initially walked by, but then came back to tell us that she was a devout Christian and strongly agreed with us. Another man went into the nearby Walgreen's and brought out bottles of water, thanking us for taking a stand. While there were a few who clearly hated our signs, they were in the minority. 

Los Angeles

From a reader:

Sunsara Taylor and Stop Patriarchy called for an emergency demonstration in response to the attacks and shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs that happened on Friday, November 27. The emergency actions around the country happened in New York, Seattle, the Bay Area, Honolulu, and Los Angeles. In LA, about eight people gathered on a corner on Hollywood and Highland, which is a location where many national protests have happened: the acquittal of the murderers of Eric Garner who was strangled to death by the police, the murder of a young man dressed in a “Scream” mask by the police for holding a fake knife, and the gathering of protesters against police terror and murder organized by Stop Mass Incarceration Network featuring Janelle Monae and the Wondaland artists. The busy intersection brings people from all over the world.

Volunteers from Stop Patriarchy and the Revolution Club assembled and brought out posters of the women who died from illegal abortions and the heroic abortion providers who were murdered by rabid Christian fanatics. Volunteers held up an orange banner that exclaimed “ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY” and another banner that stated “STAND UP FOR ABORTION RIGHTS. COUNTERPROTEST THE MARCH ON ‘LIFE’ JANUARY 23: San Francisco, JANUARY 22: Washington DC. FETUSES ARE NOT BABIES, ABORTION IS NOT MURDER, WOMEN ARE NOT INCUBATORS.” Some tourists snapped photos as they passed by on their cell phones. A few people would put up their fists and say, “I’m with you!” A woman claimed, “I already support Planned Parenthood.” We struggled with people to understand the severity of the attacks on Planned Parenthood and the armed attack by this Christian fascist who opened fire on the center, as well as struggling to cohere those with their fists up and thumbs up and support to join and get into more about why this happened and how they and others can become activated and involved.

A woman in pink walked up and said over and over, “RIGHT ON! RIGHT ON! RIGHT ON!” She walked up to the banner “ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY!” and yelled, “RIGHT ON!” She walked up to the poster of Dr. David Gunn, who was an abortion doctor who was murdered, and said, “RIGHT ON!!” When asked to say something on the bullhorn, she took the mic and explained that she worked in an abortion clinic, and when Dr. David Gunn was murdered, she helped the operations of the clinic continue to provide the services that women needed.

Another woman was a pro-choice activist since the ’60s. She said she could tell you stories and stories of women who died from botched and illegal abortions before abortion was legal. She supported and cheered that we came together to respond to these recent attacks on Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics. She was visiting a friend in LA from Seattle and had just walked past us and felt compelled to talk to us. We handed her the pamphlet “A FETUS IS NOT A BABY” and pointed her toward and joining us to go to San Francisco on January 23 to counter-protest the March for “Life.”

For two hours we chanted “Without this basic right, women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology!” and “Fetuses are not babies, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators!” and put out that “Stop Patriarchy has called for this emergency response to the attacks on Planned Parenthood and the attacks on abortion clinics around the country and calling on people to join us to go to San Francisco to counter-protest the March for ‘Life.” We linked the shooting in Colorado Springs to the shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, and linked the fight against women’s enslavement and degradation to the fight against police murder and terror. I was interviewed by CBS and talked about the emergency call by Sunsara Taylor for people to take to the streets and response to the attacks on Planned Parenthood and urgency to stop the war on women. On the bullhorn, I read a quote by Bob Avakian:

Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.


From a member of Stop Patriarchy in Seattle:

We responded to Sunsara Taylor’s call for emergency protests against the Colorado Springs shooting attack on Planned Parenthood by quickly rearranging plans and hitting the streets in the middle of the busiest holiday shopping district in downtown Seattle. There were only two of us at first but it was well worth it. We reached many more by agitating, holding the orange Abortion on Demand and Without Apology signs, getting out stickers, and passing out flyers.

The response was somewhat contradictory; one person walked by us and yelled “murderers!” A man approached one of us in an intimidating manner as she was agitating, and another member intervened, calling him over and taking on his argument, which was that Dark Ages notion that women shouldn’t have sex if they aren’t ready for the “consequences.” He left quickly after we asserted that a baby is not a punishment for having sex. On the other hand, some people in line for the Christmas carousel clapped, raised their fists, and asked us for stickers. Two women who signed up with us are interested in going to San Francisco or Washington, DC. to stand up for abortion rights on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and join us in counter-protesting the March for “Life.” Other people seemed taken aback that we were so vocal, and I’m sure many of them were there to shop.

A few who stopped to talk hadn’t heard anything about the shooting, and most everyone that we talked to who had heard about it were not connecting it up to the war on women, and how that’s intensifying, in particular around abortion rights. One young man from Canada who I talked to as we were wrapping up asked me what people’s responses are like when we go out, and said, “It’s Seattle, things are OK here, right?” His eyes got wide with shock when I told him about being called murderers earlier in the day, and I laid out some of the scope and depth of the abortion rights emergency happening now.

A longtime supporter and donor to Stop Patriarchy who has a deep understanding of and outrage at Christian fascism ran into us and expressed how good it was to see us out there. He joined in on the spot. A family of six stopped to talk about how wrong this violent attack was and proudly posed with signs and stickers, the mother telling us: “I taught my kids that fetuses are not babies.”

Some press showed up and did a short interview that got printed online and shown on the local Fox News that night. From the article: “Some residents in Seattle felt the gunman’s actions were part of a growing assault on women’s rights. ‘What we do know is there has been an escalating war on women and escalating attacks on abortion rights, both legally and then in situations like this, extralegal violence. And all of this creates an atmosphere in which women are being forced into motherhood through denial of this basic and essential thing, abortion rights. If women can’t control their own reproduction they can’t control the course of their lives,’ said rally participant Andrea Strong.”


Cleveland, in solidarity with Planned Parenthood
Cleveland. Photo: Special to

From a reader:

To be part of the day of solidarity with Planned Parenthood after the violent attack in Colorado Springs, a dozen people rallied near the Planned Parenthood office. We had Cleveland Revolution Club members out, Black activists, a man who works for Planned Parenthood in New York, Revolution paper sellers, and others who joined in. We were at a busy corner, some cars honked, people stopped, many saw the signs. We passed out the “Statement on the Violent Attack on Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood” from A young woman came up from Columbus and said, “I am against violence, I am pro-choice, it is about what Planned Parenthood provides.” The man who works for Planned Parenthood in New York City said, “No one is free until we are all free. I support allies of Planned Parenthood in a time of need, we need to reach across groups and get greater justice for all. It is ridiculous that Planned Parenthood has to be defended. Abortion is healthcare."



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