Coming off of a bold act of nonviolent civil disobedience in front of the University of Texas, in Austin, during the Week of Defiance, as part of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: Ground Zero TX, Adrienne Luendo, member of Stop Patriarchy and one of the 5 people arrested, wrote this piece for the Daily Texan where she recounts what took place on that day, why she decided to engage in this act, and why others, especially students, need to stand up in this abortion rights emergency NOW.
On the conviction of Jennifer Whalen: This is not the first time women have been condemned to prison for protecting themselves or their loved ones. THIS MUST STOP NOW!
from Adrienne, member of Stop Patriarchy
A Stop Patriarchy comrade and I arrived at Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania by 9am. We stepped out of the car into the gray, coldness with signs that read “We Support Jennifer Whalen! Assisting someone with an abortion is not a crime!”, “Free Jennifer Whalen”, and, of course, “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!” Jennifer Whalen is a Pennsylvania resident and mother who sought to help her daughter have an abortion. Now, she is serving a 9-18 month sentence.
Her daughter was sixteen and pregnant, and as Whalen’s husband Keith told us outside of the jail, “unable to raise and care for this child.” Jennifer was looking out for the well-being of her daughter. The closest abortion clinic to Whalen is 75 miles away, and abortion is not covered under her insurance. With restrictions on medical abortions, it’s become more and more expensive and difficult to access. Jennifer was only doing what she needed to do, in a society that is making it more and more difficult for abortion to access. Jennifer obtained the medicine necessary, the same medicine provided by clinics for medical abortions, legally, and gave them to her daughter. (It’s important to note that most clinics aid a woman in deciding between the two types of abortion, medical or surgical, she could have. There are examinations provided to see which abortion would be best for the woman’s body. Once it’s determined that a medical abortion is safe, a provider will allow the patient to take one pill in office and another pill the following day at home. This is perfectly safe.) Her daughter did have some complications, so Jennifer took her daughter to the emergency room. For this Jennifer was charged and sentenced for violating a state law that requires abortions to be done by physicians and for distributing medicine without a prescription.
A journalist at the jail told us that the judge was contemplating charging her for manslaughter (for termination a 3 week fetus!!). This law does not exist in a vacuum and must be examined alongside the circumstances created by when access to abortion is restricted!With abortion becoming more and more difficult to access, how can we expect that women will not do whatever it takes to terminate their unwanted pregnancies?
It is totally illegitimate when laws are blindly used to make an example of someone; this case truly highlights how stigmatized abortions have become. Criminalizing abortions will NOT stop women from trying to obtain them. The horrific thing is that this is not the first time women have been condemned to prison for protecting themselves or their loved ones. This must stop now!
We waited for about a half an hour, before a car arrived in front of the jail. Jennifer was set to report to the jail to begin serving her sentence that day. My stomach turned itself into knots as I watched and waited for Jennifer to step out of the car. I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like to know you were going to be away from your children, your family, your friends, your life, and that all of these people knew why. I can’t imagine all of the anger, sadness, and shame she experienced. It’s devastating to know that in order to receive a lesser sentence a person has to internalize the horrors and inconsistencies of the system.
When Jennifer stepped out of the car she walked briskly with her head down. My comrade called out to her and she walked back, standing in the arms of her husband, with her head down and hair in front of her face. My comrade looked at her and told her that what she did was not wrong, and that many, many people support her. “Did you know this?” Jennifer shook her head. Women, especially moms, face a different set of standards; they are blamed and shamed for their children’s behaviors—their daughter’s sexuality, their daughter’s choice in clothing, and the list goes on—but while it’s true that a child’s behavior is not always a reflection of their parent, what’s more important is that ALL of these expectations and complaints are blatant attacks on WOMEN!
Should she have to apologize for being a woman. Hell no! Should she feel sorry for protecting the welfare of her daughter? Hell no! To see her stand in shame was an awful reflection of why criminalizing and stigmatizing abortion does nothing but perpetuate violence against women.
It was gratifying to be out there in support of Jennifer Whalen and to speak to her. Seeing us could have made a slight dent in chipping away the guilt and shame she’s felt. However, this slight dent needs to be strengthened and transformed into a major crack in this whole illegitimate system. We must continue to fight against a patriarchal society that is condemning women for thinking on their own.
We must fight illegitimate laws, change the way people think about abortion and act on what they know to be true. Standing in support of prisoners is important. Standing in opposition to a law is important. Protesting is important! Making your voice heard is important. I encourage people out there who see this as an injustice to flood the court and/or jail with letters of support of Jennifer Whalen. Write to her yourself* and tell her of your support. There is a need for an outpouring of support. We need all kinds of people to get involved on this front. Now is the time.
* Send your message of support for Jennifer Whalen to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them to her husband, Keith Whalen, to send to Jennifer.
Friday Sept. 12: Free Jennifer Whalen! Abortion is NOT a crime!
Fresh off the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: Ground Zero Texas, Stop Patriarchy is mobilizing to rally support for a woman in Pennsylvania who is due to report to prison tomorrow, Sept. 12, to begin serving a 9-18 month sentence for assisting her then 16-yr-old daughter in terminating an unwanted pregnancy through a medication abortion.
Join us Friday, Sept. 12 - 9 a.m. in front of
Montour County Prison 117 Church Street, Danville, PA 17821
Abortion is not a crime! Free Jennifer Whalen! Abortion on Demand & Without Apology!
Whalen was convicted of violating a state law that requires abortions to be performed by a physician and for dispensing medication without a prescription. Aside from the prison sentence, she was also fined $1,000.
BUT who is responsible for creating a situation where:
The nearest abortion clinic was 75 miles away.
Whalen had no insurance coverage for abortion services.
Abortion services are more difficult to access and more stigmatized than ever.
More and more women are driven to desperate measures to exercise their basic right and moral choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
The anti-abortion forces don’t give a damn about “child welfare” or the health and safety of women.
Whalen’s sentence is an outrage that must be opposed.
Four Points About Jennifer Ann Whalen: Mother Sentenced to Prison for Helping her Daughter Abort Unwanted Pregnancy *
Several years ago, Jennifer Ann Whalen, of Pennsylvania, a 39 year old mother, helped her pregnant 16 year old daughter, who did not want to be pregnant, get abortion drugs from an internet site. They used these to induce an abortion, and they did this because of the lack of safe, legal, affordable abortion care in the area they lived. The nearest abortion clinic was 75 miles away, and her daughter didn’t have health insurance.
For this she was convicted of violating a state law that requires abortions to be performed by a physician, and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Four points are extremely relevant to highlight and are related to where things are headed with the attacks on abortion and birth control rights:
ABORTION RIGHTS ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY: Throughout the US there is an abortion rights emergency, headed quickly towards disaster for women. In 2014 Texas saw the biggest round of clinic closures ever to hit a single state since abortion was legalized in 1973, and it’s not over yet. Texas, a state of roughly 13 million women, went from having 44 abortion clinics to just 19 in one year, and depending on a 5th circuit court ruling, could be left with only 7. Six states have only one abortion clinic. These restrictive laws, attacks on abortion doctors, harassment and stigma heaped on women that seek abortion, and mass closures of clinics, have driven women to take matters into their own hands, risking their lives in order to not be forced to bear children they do not want.
ABORTION IS BEING CRIMINALIZED: The doctor at the hospital that Whalen took her daughter to (after her daughter began having severe cramping and bleeding 2 weeks after taking the abortion drugs) turned her into the police and set in motion a criminal investigation. This is outrageous, and sets dangerous precedent for other women; who may decide after they risk self-abortion, that they cannot risk seeking professional medical help if they need it. 5,000 women a year died before Roe made abortion legal, and emergency rooms were filled with women that had uterine infections. If we continue on the current course, abortion will become an outright crime, and then not only will graveyards and emergency rooms fill with women, the jails will also fill with women. Women whose only crime was to want a life other than becoming a mother.
(Even women that want to become mothers, but who have miscarriages, health crises, or addiction issues are increasingly facing jail time. Indeed- some already are. From 1973 to 2005 the National Advocates for Pregnant Women study identifies 413 cases where pregnant women were arrested, incarcerated, detained in in hospitals or mental institutions, and forced to undergo medical treatments- including surgery. This number is currently on the rise due to “fetal homicide” and “child endangerment” laws. A fetus is NOT a child, abortion is NOT Homicide, and women are NOT state-mandated incubators. )
ABORTION IS NOT A CRIME! WOMEN THAT DON’T WANT TO BECOME MOTHERS ARE NOT CRIMINALS! NO JAIL TIME for Jennifer Ann Whalen, and NO SHAME for her daughter, or any woman that seeks abortion. Whalen has been sentenced to more time than the likes of Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and the other ruling class functionaries that are responsible for instituting vicious, woman-hating, anti-abortion laws. They are the real criminals, with the blood of women on their hands. Whalen has been fined $1,000 and sentenced to 12-18 months in prison, and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service. If she had been convicted on all counts, she could have been sentenced to 7 years, and up to $15,000 in fines. She was charged with medical consultation, unlawfully dispensing medicine, endangering the life of a child, and simple assault. Medical consultation is a 3rd degree felony. This is OUTRAGEOUS, and UNACCEPTABLE! All charges and fines should be dropped immediately!
THERE IS A MOVEMENT THAT YOU SHOULD JOIN: to fight against the attacks on women and abortion rights, and for the liberation of women! Everyone has an interest in fighting for women’s liberation. Women are half of humanity, and if women cannot even make the essential decision about when and whether to become mothers, if women are forced into motherhood against their will, then they are enslaved. If women are not free, then no one is free. This sentence against Jennifer Ann Whalen should be reversed! Also, the movement to reverse this overall war on women must grow!
* CORRECTION to original post: Whalen is married, not single.
Judge Rules Against Further Abortion Clinic Closures in Texas - A statement from StopPatriarchy.org and the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride - August 29, 2014
It is very important that Judge Yeakel has blocked – at least for now – the closure of abortion clinics that was scheduled to take place on September 1st, 2014 and laid the basis for the possible reopening of clinics in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley.**
However, this is only a temporary reprieve. It is far from a complete or final victory.
Already this correct ruling is being appealed by the Attorney General to the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans. Further, even with this positive ruling, Texas has only about half the number of abortion clinics it had just three years ago and this is indicative of a nationwide pattern of clinic closures and mounting restrictions, stigma and obstacles placed on women.
As Merle Hoffman, Advisory Board member of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, put it, “While we celebrate this victory, it is critical to remember that this is one battle in an ongoing war and we must remain vigilant.”
Sunsara Taylor, initiator of StopPatriarchy.org and Abortion Rights Freedom Rider among those arrested this month protesting HB2, added, “The anti-abortion movement will not stop until they have criminalized all abortions for all women in all circumstances. The emergency facing women is not over. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.”
Abortion must be available on demand and without apology! Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Without the ability to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child, women cannot be free. If women are not free then no one is free.
**This means that abortion will not become any more inaccessible to women throughout the state of Texas in the very short term. It may even mean that abortion becomes more available in the Rio Grande Valley and in Western Texas than it has been in a year, depending on whether those clinics have the ability to reopen.
No One Has to Ask Permission to Fight For Women's Liberation - A response to Katie Klabusich's attack on Stop Patriarchy in Bitch Magazine
by Carol Downer
The headline, “In Texas, Activist Group ‘Stop Patriarchy” Draws Criticism’ and the first two paragraphs might first appear like an objective report; however, your blog, reprinted in Bitch is not a report, but a trash job. Come clean, Katie Klabusich, Texans for Reproductive Justice is you and your buddies in an ad hoc group formed for the sole purpose of opposing Stop Patriarchy and their mission to come to Texas, protest the TRAP laws that are closing down Texas clinics and their goal of linking this to the nationwide emergency facing abortion rights.
I’m on the advisory board of Stop Patriarchy and I went on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride for one week.
So, you have not given me or anyone else one good reason not to support Stop Patriarchy. Your criticisms are baseless; if anything, they are reasons to support Stop Patriarchy.
“I stand with the brave 11 Freedom Fighters for women’s reproductive rights who were arrested outside of Governor Rick Perry’s mansion on August 13th for protesting the closure of all but six abortion clinics in the state of Texas. Legislation that limits access to sensitive healthcare, specifically safe and legal abortion, is a form of serious violence against women. We must raise our voices, fill the streets, make art, to defend doctors and assist women, to change hearts, enlighten minds and resist this oppression throughout this Week of Defiance.”—–Eve Ensler
Reproductive freedom is a basic human right, like freedom of speech. It affects everything in a woman’s life, whether she is healthy or not, in school or not, in the labor force or not, and how long she lives. In opposing reproductive freedom, Rick Perry has become a dictator endangering women’s lives. He should be impeached. -Gloria Steinem
Tweet Your Abortion Rights Message to Rick Perry – Use @GovernorPerry and #StopForcedMotherhood
Tweet Your Abortion Rights Message to Rick Perry – Use @GovernorPerry and #StopForcedMotherhood We will write it on a coat-hanger and display it outside Rick Perry’s mansion.
On September 1st, Texas is on track to close all but six abortion clinics – part of the most dramatic clinic closures to hit a single state since Roe v. Wade. Many women will be forced to have children against their will or to risk their lives to terminate a pregnancy on their own. This will also be a major leap backwards in the nation-wide emergency facing abortion rights. This MUST be resisted!
Every day thru Sept 1st, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will protest at Rick Perry’s mansion from 4 – 6pm Central Standard Time.
Tweet your message about abortion rights to Rick Perry (@GovernorPerry) using the hashtag #StopForcedMotherhood and we will write your message on a coathanger and display it in front of his mansion. Be part of making sure that every day the pile of coat-hangers grows, representing the outrage and opposition of people throughout the country and around the world.
Also: follow and retweet @StopPatriarchy throughout the week to spread this campaign.
Reflections on Las Colonias, Rio Grande Valley - from an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider
Brownsville, August 22, 2014 Before the Brownsville crew split and went our separate ways, we had time to reflect on our experiences and speak about the week as a whole. What kept coming up was how much a positive impact the crew has made and how this seems to be just the beginning of a conversation between the people in the Rio Grande Valley and Stop Patriarchy. To clarify by positive impact, in no way did we mean it to be a display of charity, to say “look at what we’ve done”, but really this overall feeling that people were grateful for speaking with them about the abortion rights emergency and linking it to the overall feeling of repression and oppression felt in the Rio Grande Valley.
"Anybody on the side of women’s lives has to put everything on the line"
from Nova Tiller, an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider
I am a Freedom Rider for women’s lives and have been a part of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas since the beginning of August. We came to Texas from all over the country because it really does concentrate a lot in the battle over abortion rights. Governor Perry himself once said it was his mission to, “make abortion a thing of the past.” Think about what that means.
When abortion is illegal, thousands of women die. Millions of women will be forced to give birth against their will. They will be property of the state for the period of their pregnancy. At any point, her biology could foreclose her humanity. Her very dreams will be shaped by that looming status, from the moment she is born female.
I was born in 1995, so I don’t have personal memories of a pre-Roe society, but I know enough after living through the murder of eight abortion providers, after witnessing the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar as she was persistently denied an abortion in Ireland, to know that anybody on the side of women’s lives has to put everything on the line to ensure we don’t “go back.”
I was arrested at Texas Governor Rick Perry’s mansion on Wednesday. We took over the busy intersection, blocking traffic, disrupting business as usual. I was arrested with 10 other Abortion Rights Freedom Riders. Eight of us were wearing all black, holding the faces of women who died from illegal abortion with bloody coat hangers, the weapons that killed them. Three of us, dressed in white, held a message of the future we’re fighting for: “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!” a future where no woman is forced to hurdle barriers to access, confront dangerous alternatives, or be forced to give birth against her will; a future where no woman is made to feel guilty for getting an abortion.
“We stand for millions” has a whole different meaning for me now. When I encounter those words, I am reminded of the courage shining in the eyes of the brave bystanders who shared their water; I am caught fixated on the memory of the young woman who thanked me through her tears; I am inspired by the thought of others like them—-folks who have been waiting. We all put our bodies on the front lines that day. We all put our lives on the line. I put my life on the line because when it comes to the fight over abortion rights, women’s lives are on the line. If we lie down and lose, we’re conceding the future of every child born female to a world where she has no rights to her body, life, or dreams.
Report from Brownsville: "The more people I spoke to the more confident I became"
It was incredible to see that with a little bit of elbow grease, courage, like that young women we had met earlier that day, and some fucking truth people became emboldened and wanted to act.
Notes from an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider, Rio Grande
Monday, August 18, Rio Grande. Before heading to Brownsville I confided in a fellow freedom rider that I was nervous about going down with such a small crew and my lack of experience. I told her I was nervous about speaking to people about abortion and really taking initiative down in Brownsville. Her response is something that I think speaks volumes about the richness of today’s outreach; she said to me that one, everything was going to work out and not to worry, and two, and more importantly, that talking about abortion is easy or at least gets easier in time. Another freedom rider echoed this sentiment by emphasizing the strength in our varying degrees of experience and knowledge and that bolstered my confidence.
Under some awesome leadership, our crew set up camp in a stall at a weekly flea market in Brownsville. After setting up our table with flyers, pins, and stickers, and quite ironically hung up the “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” sign with coat hangers, we got to talking with the folks passing by. At first I was shaky and watched as other freedom riders spoke to people, attentive to their confidence and the language they used to illustrate how serious this abortion rights emergency is. We would stop to chat and ask each other about how people were responding and what we could say to strengthen our responses.
First day in Brownsville we headed over to a local flea market. The response was very mixed, some people were really into what we were doing and others of course were not so pleased. Right off the bat, we had a group of 4 girls that loved what stop patriarchy was about.
They did not realize the state of emergency that abortion rights are in at this moment and how we are moving back in time. They decided to take this into their own hands and took a ton of flyers to hand out throughout the flea market. They were able to understand first hand what we are facing in this country surrounding abortion. The huge stigma and shame that follows it. There were plenty of pro-life religious folk there that could not grasp the fact that when abortion is illegal women die. What was the most interesting was that these pro-lifers were not really into talking about it at all. Versus other anti’s we have faced in the past. The only argument they really were giving was well it’s my opinion I have the right to my opinion. This is something that you can’t have an opinion on, women are already self inducing, around the world women are still dying from illegal abortions, and women are still shamed and forced into mother hood. So many people are blinded by their religions and what society has put out around abortion rights. We are changing that, we need to turn the tide, change the terms rise up thousands and soon millions.
-from Riley Ruiz, an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider
On August 13th, 2014, I along with ten other Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, got arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, blocking traffic, in front of Rick Perry’s mansion.
As we walked across the street and took our positions, I thought about all the women who have died, all the women forced into motherhood, all the women shamed for having abortions, all the women kept silent. I remembered the story of a woman from San Antonio, who was raped, and forced to bear a child against her will, then forced into prostitution to survive, suffering for 35 years. I remembered the story of a woman who traveled to Europe alone, and was raped, became pregnant, and considered suicide as a reasonable way out. These stories were just some of the many that were told at our People’s Hearings; they represent the huge stakes in this fight over whether half of humanity will be free to determine their own futures, and they will stay with me forever.
As cars began to pile up, and people on the sidewalk gathered and filmed, I felt more and more emboldened. The cars began honking, and we chanted louder. People came out of their cars shouting at us, one car nearly hit one of us, but we were not deterred. We stood strong for nearly 10 minutes. Many people watching from the sidelines were in awe, and some were moved to tears. People participated in all kinds of ways, giving us water as we sizzled on the hot pavement, talking to and filming the police to make sure they didn’t get totally out of line, and doing interviews responding to the action. It was so compelling, what we did, that people stayed and watched the entire thing unfold, until every single one of us was put into the police trucks.
When the cops gave us a countdown before they began their arrests, not one of us flinched. It took them quite a while to cuff all of us, and all the while we did mic checks, talking about the dark ages agenda that Rick Perry is fighting for, the fact that if HB2 holds it will result in the foreclosure of women’s lives as well as women dying from self induced abortions, and chanted things like “1, 2, 3, 4 Abortion is worth fighting for! 5, 6, 7, 8 Women’s lives are what’s at stake!” and, “Come on, come on and join the fight! Abortion is a basic right!” Our voices were giving out, the pavement was searing hot, and the police dragged us away one by one, but there was NEVER a moment where we lost our energy and determination. We were charged the entire time, knowing we were acting for millions.
Urgently Needed: A Week of Defiance to Stop the Attacks on Abortion Rights
A call to action from the 11 Freedom Riders arrested outside Rick Perry’s mansion on August 13, 2014
The attacks on abortion rights have been relentless in recent years: dozens of forced clinic closures, hundreds of restrictions on abortion, flagrantly misogynist court rulings, acts of terrorism and intimidation against doctors, and all in the name of “life” and “religious freedom.” This has meant thousands of women turned out and put down, dreams extinguished, futures foreclosed, and lives lost. Millions have been lied to about abortion, and millions more trained and taught to apologize for abortion as a “necessary evil.”
It is time to put an end to the madness. This is a question of whether women will be free, or whether they will be enslaved to a vicious patriarchal system that is hell bent on reproductive control, and sees women as nothing but sperm receptacles and baby-making machines. This is a question of whether or not young girls will dare to dream of themselves as leaders, thinkers, fighters, and frankly, full human beings. It is time to tell the truth about abortion, and to defy the powers that seek to enslave women: forced motherhood is female enslavement.
Join in a Week of Defiance August 25 - September 1. Join us in Austin (location TBA August 18), or claim your own space wherever you live:
Send a message or a story to Rick Perry and others like him - to be put on coat hangers and strung up in parks nationwide, and read aloud at protests
Bring your art, poems, and songs of resistance against the oppression of women
Lead or attend workshops on science, sex ed, history, abortion, and women’s liberation
Stage or attend speak-outs where abortion stories are told unapologetically
Invite everyone you know
Bring or send money, food and water, to Austin (location TBA 8/18), or anywhere that people are standing up in this way, to keep this going all week
Listen to the “People’s Hearings” with others who are determined to understand better what it means for real women when abortion is illegal, and why abortion rights are worth fighting for
March daily at 6pm wherever you are, with pictures of women’s faces, and strings of women’s stories on coat hangers, to the Governor’s mansion, or any institution that is spearheading the attacks on abortion
On September 1st, when all but 6 abortion clinics in Texas are set to close, join in civil disobedience wherever you are to send a clear message that you refuse to accept the future that patriarchy has in store for women
Contact StopPatriarchy.org today with your ideas and your intentions. We will have your back no matter where you are. If you have already reached out, expect a call from us this week. We know this system has never gifted oppressed people with liberation, and you are urgently needed to be part of the kind of mass movement that is the only way that the course of history has ever changed.
Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement. Abortion on Demand & Without Apology!
While talking to people in front of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas a man started yelling at us from across the street, “Close your legs! Close your legs! Close your legs!” …..this is not the first time we have heard this sentiment, and these kind of comments. Across the country, from NYC, to Wichita, and now in Texas, we’ve heard this kind of argument against abortion. Things like “Women gotta be ready to have the baby every time they have sex” or “If you make a mistake, if you have sex, you have to suffer the consequences!”
FUCK all that. What kind of logic denies women their full humanity through shaming their sexuality? What kind of morality is it that wants women to not have sex, unless procreation is involved? This idea that women should not have the right to any kind of sexuality or sexual pleasure outside of their usefulness to breeding children is an outdated and backwards notion. This outlook rests on thousands of years of patriarchy, and the continuation of that- right down to today.
First off, look at the world we live in, and let’s get real about how sex happens! We are immersed in a culture that is deeply influenced by mainstream and degrading pornography, a culture where even if women are not outright raped, they are often persuaded, coerced, or peer pressured into having sex before they feel ready. And it’s not only abortion rights that have been under attack, it’s also scientific sex education, so young people that are curious about sex are turning to Internet porn to learn about sex…which has very very little to do with women freely exploring their sexuality, and much to do with how women are humiliated, degraded, and subordinated by the men in porn. So women get extremely contradictory messages about how to behave. You either are the virgin, or a whore, and many times women are expected to be both.
“You have to be polite and respect people”—The time has LOONG passed for politeness and respect. I can respect people without respecting what they stand for. In fact, I am respecting people by being a revolutionary communist and being loud about it. It would be incredibly disrespectful of me to know the truth and ignore it, or to know the truth and be quiet. Revolutionaries have so much respect for humanity that they are willing to piss them off by not tailing them; to piss them off by not compromising; to piss them off by being “in their faces.” If we “respect opinions” and are “polite,” nothing will change and millions of children will continue to die of preventable diseases each year, black people will continue to be second class citizens, Palestinians will continue to suffer from an ongoing genocide, and women will continue to be degraded and oppressed.
Read more from this dispatch from a young revolutionary and Abortion Rights Freedom Rider HERE!
We are living through a time of ominous Supreme Court rulings, of legislatures that have made it very clear that they are not going to stand on the side of women. Hundred of restrictions coming down across abortion, dozens of clinics forced to close across this country. If you are a person who feels a moral obligation to women, and maybe you have considered yourself to be pro-life, it is time to actually investigate, it is time to hear the stories of the women, and if you are a woman who has had an abortion now is time to tell it in public.
One in three women have abortions, it is not a certain kind of woman, it is definitely not an irresponsible woman. It is a responsible choice, a moral choice and a liberating choice. In a world full of rape, in a world full of abuse, and a world where there is actually global war on women raging. it is essential that women in every state have to Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. It is not easy to tell these stories.
She was a young, poor, and very innocent student growing up in Mexico when a friend invited her over to study. She arrived with books in hand, but he told her, “We are not here to study.” He closed the door and a group of his friends proceeded to join him in raping her.
She was ashamed. She felt stupid. She felt she was to blame for putting herself in that situation. She had no one to turn to.
But this was only the beginning of her pain. Soon, she discovered something was growing inside her body. Without her permission, against her will, a pregnancy was developing and she could not control it. Abortion was not legal.
She gave birth to an unwanted son whose very existence haunted her with the memory of her gang-rape. She carried the shame of being a single mother. Soon, she was forced to prostitute herself just to “drag herself and her son through life.” For thirty-five years, she could not look her son in the face when he asked, over and over again, “Mom, who is my dad?”
This is a story told at the Austin People’s Hearing of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride last night. Tears streamed down her face and her body shook, but her voice never broke. With tremendous strength and courage she brought to life decades of compounded pain and oppression. Her entire life has been shaped by the violence men perpetuate against women, by the blame and shame heaped on women for how they have been made to suffer, and by the denial of the most fundamental right of women to decide for themselves when and whether to bear children.
-read the full article written by key initiator of Stop Patriarchy, Sunsara Taylor on revcom.us
Changing the Terms and De-Mystifying the Abortion Conversation
from Riley, an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider
I have some experience talking about abortion, and I have to say, it’s not that crazy. In fact, it gets a lot easier the more you do it, the more you run up against the same types of arguments, and the more you can recognize that these same ways of thinking, are exactly why we need to get out there with the uncompromising truth.
Yesterday, a group of volunteers went out to do outreach throughout different parts of Austin. I went over to North Congress, near the Governor’s mansion, where there is a mix of young professionals, students, and homeless people.
We went out to build for the People’s Hearing, and to sound the alarm on the abortion rights emergency, and challenge people to confront the reality that women are facing today, to understand the fact that this is about women’s liberation or women’s enslavement, and to get involved with a movement out to stop these attacks and defeat this war on women.
People have not heard anyone use the word abortion, in this light, in a really long time. And so we get all kinds of reactions when we go out like this.
One common thing I hear, and heard a lot yesterday, is people wanting to immediately talk about late term abortion; they ask us at what point we think there should be a cut off to abortion access. My response: At what point does a woman become an incubator? At what point does her life not matter? This whole focus on late term abortion is dishonest – not only do most abortions happen in the first trimester, but later abortions mainly happen because of lack of access or health problems that develop later. This whole framework eliminates the woman, the living, breathing, and conscious person with dreams, desires, and a social existence, from the equation entirely.
Another common response, ‘well there are consequences to everything, if a woman isn’t using protection, or if a woman has sex in general, she has to deal with the consequences’, she has to be ready to have a baby. My response: a baby should never be a consequence. Being ready to have sex is just not the same thing as being ready for a child. A woman should never be morally ‘obligated’ to carry a pregnancy to term. Forcing a woman to have a child against her will is a form of enslavement, it is forcible control over a women’s body, over her whole life, and there is nothing MORAL about that.
A Morality Based on Reality: I'm Counting on YOU to End the Attacks on Abortion Rights
from Alexandria Petersburg, on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride
A heroic doctor, who has been providing abortions for 40 years in Texas in the face of death threats and legal attacks, recently welcomed the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride into his clinic. I want to share some of his stories with you, along with some reflections on morality.
This doctor told us his youngest patient was 9 years old and did not have any idea of what sex is, or what had happened to her. She was molested by her father, and she was pregnant, and needed an abortion. He said many more of his patients have been 11, 12, and 13 years old, and their pregnancies are - not always, but often - a result of abuse. He also told us that in the group of protestors that regularly harass women outside his clinic, there is a woman who, whenever she gets a chance, runs inside the clinic, up the stairs, and through the waiting room, screaming, “DON’T KILL YOUR BABY!” and then runs out again and brags to her anti-abortion friends.
Now put these things together with me.
How is it that that side of this debate, the same side pushing through law after law restricting abortion, has gotten away with the claim that they are doing it “for the children?” How is the 9-year-old girl in the clinic in Texas supposed to feel? These are real people. These are not potential people, like fetuses are. These are female children, who are being terrorized while their lives are being determined for them, on top of the mountain of abuses, such as rape and incest, being inflicted on them just for being born female. Let me be clear: I do not hold the view that abortion should only be available in certain circumstances such as rape and incest, but I feel strongly that everyone should know, the movement to abolish abortion - with the government backing them up with court rulings and legislation like HB2 in Texas - that movement is out to abolish all abortion. So I ask you, with all the future generations of women and girls in mind: which side is the moral side? Which side should be brimming over with righteous outrage?
I’ll never forget the excitement I felt the day I came home and found a note from my husband saying, “Joan from Stop Patriarchy called.” Before this, I had no idea that a group called Stop Patriarchy existed, but I did know immediately that I wanted to talk to these people. Earlier in the year I had signed my name to an online statement of support for abortion on demand and without apology. Stop Patriarchy was the group behind this statement and they were now calling to tell me about their other efforts. I put down the pile of work I had brought home from work, picked up the phone and called Joan from Stop Patriarchy. I proceeded to have the most refreshing feminist conversation I had had in many years.
This testimony was shared from a Freedom Rider at the People’s Hearing in Houston. You can view this testimony and more if you watch the webcast here. Please send your own testimony to email@example.com and view the Austin People’s Hearing on Wednesday at 7PM by going to stoppatriarchy.org.
When I speak about patriarchy I talk a lot about how women dare to do basic things because of how dangerous it is to be female in this society. When I structure my sentences in this way people begin to comprehend how outrageous the notion is that we can somehow exist safely in these bodies under patriarchy. The reality is that we have no choice. Becoming warriors by necessity, we dare to exist in these female bodies every day.
We dare to wake up. We dare to go to sleep. We dare to fall in love. We dare to forge our own paths. &we dare to walk home from work. On May 15th, I was walking home from work when I was stalked and raped by a man who I had dared to ask for directions. This is not the first time I was violently reminded my body is not my own. In fact, I almost expected it to happen again, although I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to simply survive after collecting the misogynist collateral damage my body had again been reduce to.
I’m not going to assume that you don’t know what that’s like because the statistics scream my story is not unique. The piece of me that survived shares a common ground with people in this very room.
I didn’t have time to consider the possibility that I had become pregnant because life just sort of went on. I had to finish walking home. I had to be at work the next day.
When the pregnancy was finally confirmed, my whole world stopped spinning. How could I just go on now? I was already broken, but this news shattered me. The first doctor I consulted informed me that they could use fetal DNA as evidence to store in case I chose to report anything later. She helped me schedule an appointment for my eighth week. I was five weeks at this point. Apparently, somewhere around the eighth week of pregnancy, fetal DNA enters your bloodstream. So I had three weeks to wait for my rapist’s DNA to be present in my blood draw. The thought of his DNA infiltrating my body again; climbing through my veins to my heart…
I spent those long days in wide-eyed silence. I was only physically capable of silence. I don’t think I could even smile. I saw another doctor at week seven, begging him to check my blood now. He conducted a transvaginal ultrasound a terribly painful and physically invasive procedure state mandated in great stretches of this country, including here in Texas. He discovered three heartbeats. “Triplets,” he said. That was the first time I allowed myself to cry. “Please, you have to do it today. I don’t care about the DNA. I don’t want him in my body anymore.” I begged him so desperately he had to refuse. “I cannot allow you to consent to any medical procedure until you calm down.” So I waited eight more days.
There was the routine nausea that often accompanies the first trimester, but something else was happening. The pain I felt on each of those days as I witnessed my body change to accommodate three embryos, is a special type of pain.
I went to the clinic the day before my procedure to get my blood drawn. The next morning they called me to tell me the DNA sample was strong enough and that my appointment was still on for noon. That whole time I couldn’t really breathe and my heart, it couldn’t really beat.
I had an abortion. I would have had an abortion even if there was no doctor willing or able to perform the procedure. I would have had an abortion even if there was no way to afford the cost. I would have had an abortion even if no clinics were open. I cannot imagine experiences more awful than rape. BUT not being able to make the decision whether or not to carry a pregnancy? That thought seems pretty close. Nothing would have stopped me from ending this pregnancy, even if that meant I had to end my own life: because the alternative continues to shadow my memory with a horror I never want to fully understand.
I get incredibly infuriated when people talk about abortion as some “tragic choice.” My abortion was empowering and liberating. The fact that anybody anywhere has been raped; that somebody right now is being violated like I was: THAT is tragic. Abortion wasn’t just some option for me; it was my only means of survival.
I cannot begin to express the relief I felt walking out of that clinic. It was like I had this post-abortion glow. And now I’m here in Texas, fighting to ensure that women and girls get some say in their own destiny.
When we’re out on the streets talking to people, I’ve met a lot of women who genuinely care. They have stories from their family and friends and they even have their own. BUT I am noticing that some folks are concerned about their reputations. They’re concerned about their safety. I get it. I do. BUT really, if you’re a woman there is nothing you can do to be safe under patriarchy. The act of existence is already dangerous. I was raped because I dared to leave my house. When I got the abortion, I was daring to determine my own destiny. We were condemned to terrible statistics because we dared to be born female. If you care about the hopes, dreams, lives, and futures of women everywhere, get with this movement. Our existence is already dangerous, so make it count for something.
TOMORROW! PROTEST HB2 at The Federal Courthouse in Austin, TX!
JOIN US at the Federal Courthouse in Austin, W 5th at Nueces St from 9am-12pm as we protest and stand with the providers who won’t back down against the outrageous restrictions of HB2.
HB2 as a whole, is a set of restrictions, only being implemented to shut down clinics, and force more women to have children against their will. What comes along with this is a 20 week ban on abortion, a 24 hour waiting period, 3 separate visits to a doctor if using the abortion pill (which is nearly impossible for women traveling hundreds of miles in the first place), clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards, and hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.
The last 2 sections stated here, both of which are entirely medically unnecessary along with every other restriction, are being challenged by a courageous group of abortion providers, as two clinics in particular will shut down and create a situation where women in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, will face an ‘undue burden’ being forced to travel hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion.
There are only 6 clinics in the state that can surely comply with these types of regulations. This means if nothing changes, only 6 clinics will remain open, for nearly 13 million women in the state of Texas, and will set precedent for the rest of the country.
We stand with the providers who refuse to allow this to stand, and with ALL those who do not want to see women forced to have children against their will.
Statement from Tom Morello released in conjunction with The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas
Abortion is often a very difficult decision for women, but it must remain a woman’s choice without intimidation or interference. My great grandmother died as a result of an unsafe, illegal abortion. She was a dress maker, wife of a poor farmer, and had no access to women’s health information or safe medical care. Her tragic, unnecessary death shattered the family and orphaned her three children as her husband could no longer care for them. If anti-choice advocates have their way many women will share my great grandmother’s fate. Our government has a great many problems none of which will be solved by intruding in the womb. I support the brave efforts of those speaking out and standing up for women’s rights in Texas and around the world.