Talk by Sunsara Taylor:
Confronting the Abortion Rights Emergency — Fighting for Complete Liberation

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 15, a program at Revolution Books in Harlem, New York City—The Abortion Rights Emergency—STOP the War on Women!—featured a panel with Merle Hoffman (CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, which began doing abortions in 1971, and author of Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room); Sunsara Taylor (writer for Revolution/ and initiator of; and Sikivu Hutchinson (feminist atheist activist and author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels and Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Values Wars). The following is the transcript of Sunsara Taylor’s remarks.


Unbelievable as it might seem...

Last Wednesday [December 9], a woman from Tennessee, Anna Yocca, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder. This, after she was rushed to the hospital, bleeding profusely, her life in danger. The state alleges that she had attempted to use a coat hanger to self-abort her pregnancy. According to the news, Yocca was 24 weeks pregnant and her alleged self-abortion did not work. The fetus was still alive. But when she got to the hospital, instead of recognizing the fundamental right of every woman to decide for herself when and whether to have a child and assisting her in an abortion, which should have been available to her safely in the first place, the hospital removed the fetus and put it on life support—forcing her to become a mother against her will. Then, instead of prioritizing the safety and privacy of this patient, the hospital turned her over to the criminal justice system.

Finally, instead of recognizing that the severe restrictions and shame heaped on abortion in Tennessee and around this country have created a situation where women are once again resorting to the coat hanger—a method that claimed the lives of thousands of women before abortion was made legal (and rightly, and in large part due to the clarity and moral courage of Merle Hoffman, the coat hanger has become a symbol, an infamous symbol, of those horrendous days when abortion was illegal)—instead of looking at this situation and seeing that the crime was attempted murder by the state of Anna Yocca for putting her in this situation, the state instead charged her with murder!

As we speak, she sits in jail, and this is a precedent, a legal precedent, that can be used against many, many women.

Now we could spend hours detailing the cases of other women like this, and you’ve heard of some others, both in this country and around the world. And we could spend hours more detailing the violence and terror against abortion providers—including the murders at Planned Parenthood recently in Colorado. We could talk about—and Sikivu mentioned this and I’ll touch on it briefly right now—the poisonous campaign targeting Black women in particular, comparing them, if they get abortions, to the lynch mobs that murdered Black people—a campaign that at the same time vilifies Black women, belittles lynching, further demonizes abortion for all women, and views Black women the same way the slave masters did, by the way, as nothing more than breeding machines. We could talk about the particular challenges to immigrant women—especially those without papers, to young women, or we could examine the way even the most privileged women are oppressed when abortion is criminalized...

But instead, I refer you to the many things I and others have written about this at, to the many books, including those by the two speakers tonight, available here at Revolution Books, and urge you to learn more.

Break All the Chains!

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

Sampler Edition | Full Work

I want to address a question that is beneath the core of all of this—the question of WHY? Why are these laws being passed? Why do politicians knowingly use this hateful rhetoric that whips up terrorists? Why do they spread lies? Why do they do things like oppose birth control and sex education that would actually reduce the rate of abortion? Why do people who claim to be about “life” go on killing sprees? WHY?

I think the most important thing to understand in all this is something recently said by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He wrote: “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.”

Years ago, in his book Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones, Bob Avakian wrote further about this (and I witnessed this directly myself for the first time 20 years ago in North Dakota and many times since): anti-abortion fanatics praying, “Lord, please break this curse of independence that has afflicted women.” This fight has never been about “babies.” Fetuses are NOT babies. This fight is about controlling and enslaving women.

Now, the fact that after the tremendous struggle of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, which is what it took to win this right, this kind of hatred of women is back with such a vengeance—and as Merle spoke to, this has been ongoing for decades, an escalating emergency—the fact that this is back is but one indication that patriarchy and male supremacy is woven deeply into the system of capitalism that we live under. It cannot be reformed away. We need a revolution.

By revolution I don’t mean a bunch of protests or political upheaval. I am not talking about replacing who is in power within the same basic setup. I am talking about overturning and putting an end to capitalism-imperialism, to its armies and its courts, its unjust laws and murderous police, and bringing into being a new, revolutionary state power—a socialist state in transition to a communist world. Revolution is needed to liberate women from not only this form of enslavement, but also from the epidemic of rape and sexual violence, the beatings and abuse, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves throughout the world, including in this country, the degradation and dehumanization of pornography, and the many other crimes of this system; the rampant police murder directed especially against Black and Brown people; the war on immigrants; the destruction of the environment, and the horrendous and escalating nightmare of what the U.S. does around the world, its imperialist drones and occupation, wars and torture, all of which fuel and reinforce Islamic fundamentalism and all the reactionary and enslaving forms of that against women and others, as well. We need a revolution.

And it is very fortunate for humanity that someone has done the work to develop the scientific understanding of how this can be done and is leading this. That person is Bob Avakian. The scope of the work he has done to develop the strategy for revolution, the vision of a new society, and the scientific method needed to carry this forward goes beyond what I can address in these brief remarks. But everyone who is serious about liberation has a responsibility to get deeply into his work and to help make it known to others. Go to, get the book BAsics, come regularly to this bookstore, Revolution Books. And particularly germane to this evening’s topic and discussion is the compendium, Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, where he breaks new ground on how the liberation of women and the fight for the liberation of women is and must be a driving force in making a revolution to emancipate all of humanity.

Before concluding, I want to raise two final things—which draw on this body of work and which I think are essential for defeating the war on women.

First, the Bible taken literally is a horror. The Bible commands that non-virgin brides be stoned to death, that gays and lesbians be killed. It upholds slavery, and blames women for supposedly causing the downfall of man by eating the so-called forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In this way women are blamed for everything bad that has ever happened—and told, in the book of Timothy, that they can only redeem themselves by obeying their husbands and having children. This horrendous stuff is in the Bible because it was written by human beings who lived in patriarchal, slave-owning societies before science, and the moral codes they dreamed up reflected those oppressive societies. But this Dark Ages stuff sits at the core of the anti-abortion movement, and it is time we start taking this on head on. The fact is: god does not exist, and it is a very good thing that that is true. But even if you believe in god—and I know there are a lot of people who support abortion rights who do, and I am happy to stand with them—but even if you believe in god, we all must agree that the Bible taken literally is a horror and this kind of Christian fascist biblical literalism must be taken on, not tolerated or compromised with.

Second, we cannot defeat this war on women by relying on the structures of this system—their elections, politicians, the Democratic Party, or the courts. These are all part of a system that needs patriarchy, and they repeatedly compromise with and cede the moral high ground to the fascists—talking about how abortion is a tragedy or should be rare, as if there is something wrong with abortion. Never calling out these fascists for the woman-haters they are or challenging their fascist biblical literalism. Relying on them is how we’ve gotten into this mess, where yesterday’s outrage over and over again becomes today’s compromise position and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. We need to get OUT of this dynamic. We must change the terms—saying and acting on what no politician will say: Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Abortion must be available on demand and without apology.

We must rely on ourselves and we must put ourselves on the line. Right now, this means mobilizing to be in Washington, DC, and San Francisco this January for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, to show our strength and our determination. To stand up and say we will not accept slavery in any form. To do this right in the face of thousands of anti-abortion fanatics who march every year. This is how we change ourselves. This is how we change the thinking and challenge the passivity of millions of others—and call them forward to join us. This is how we beat back the vicious attacks on women from the halls of power and the fascists on the street. I and the Revolutionary Communist Party are all in and will be doing this as part of getting ready for revolution—just as we recognize the need for and are proud to stand with people who come from very different perspectives, like those on this panel with me tonight, who see from their own lives and experiences the great importance of this fight for the future of women.

Wherever you are at in this process, join with us. Become part of—the full name being End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women—which brings together people from many different perspectives to fight this together. Get your own organization or group involved. Give money to support this work! Stand up. The future of women is being fought out and it’s going to be decided. I know the emergency has been building for years, but things like this don’t stay two-sided forever. One side or the other is going to win, and the scales are tipping the wrong way. It’s not a time to be on the sidelines. It’s not a time to be demoralized. There is a tremendous potential to wake up millions and reverse this whole direction. Which future we get is up to each of us.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need