"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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Because: Women’s lives MATTER. Women are HALF of HUMANITY, and deserve to be treated as full human beings in every sphere of society. When abortion, birth control, and scientific sex education are out of women’s reach, all of society is held down and slammed backward.
Because: There is a national assault on the right to abortion, and people have forgotten, or have never before heard, the truth about what happens to women’s bodies and lives when abortion is illegal. Women in Texas and other parts of the US are already employing dangerous methods to induce abortion: black market drugs, sticking sharp objects like coat hangers and knitting needles into their vaginal canals, purposely getting into a fight or having someone beat them in the stomach, falling down stairs, all to avoid the shame and stigma of abortion or because they cannot access safe and legal abortion care. Without abortion, women will be forced to bear children EVERY single time they get pregnant, their lives foreclosed and shackled to the breeding and raising of children, their dreams crushed, their hopes betrayed. Young girls will all grow up in a society that teaches them that this is their future, and they won’t even BEGIN to dream of what they want to be, or what kind of world they want to live in when they grow up.
Because: LOOK, just look at all this stigma and shame, all this ignorance of women’s bodies’ and basic biology, all this SHAME that’s spewed at women just for having sex, and all this ignorance about the FACT that abortion is not shameful or tragic, that its a safe, common, positive and liberating medical procedure…look at all these fucked up laws, ideas and culture that keeps women locked into these desperate measures! These life and death measures!
Stop Patriarchy was recently asked to remove all anti-pornography messages from a table we had at a Vagina Monologues production, in the name of “sex positivity.” Activists with Stop Patriarchy said, you know that there’s a war on women when the state can keep sex education out of the schools and abolish abortion, while a curious ten-year-old can type “sex” into Google and watch a woman eat shit. This is what we are exposing, and we should all fight it. Porn has nothing to do with sex, and it’s not “positive” in its effects—it does nothing to encourage real intimacy, it makes rape and the absence of consent sexy in the minds of many, and the industry itself continues to intersect with sex trafficking and generally treat women like garbage. The event organizer went on to say that there were women involved in the event who create “feminist pornography.” Stop Patriarchy said that we need a movement for women’s liberation, fighting for a world without a multi-billion dollar sex trafficking industry, where women’s bodies are not objects up for sale: not through sex slavery, not in strip clubs, not in porn, no matter who is getting the profit. A world where slavery is rejected not sexualized, and a woman is more than an orifice and receptacle to stuff things into or pump stuff out of.
This is where the connection between the social origins and the social consequences of individual desires must be grasped. Not all theories that seem on the surface to be in opposition to harmful and oppressive tradition actually reflect the kind of world that is possible: a world without slavery in any form. On the contrary, the defining of sex as “whatever you want it to be” when what people want is being shaped by a patriarchal system, is in itself a stamp of approval on the intolerable conditions women face in the world as it is.
For Women's Lives and Against McCarthyism: A Response to "United Statement in Opposition to Stop Patriarchy"
As members of the Advisory Board of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas, we strongly reject the recent ad-hominem and McCarthyite attacks and accusations leveled at the Ride and at Stop Patriarchy as unfounded and untrue. We appreciate the comments of clinic owner Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health in Mississippi, as quoted in the Dallas Observer:
“‘We became far too reliant upon courts to maintain the status quo, while our enemy is in the trenches with these churches raising money, raising time, electing people. Am I a communist? Absolutely not. Do I care whether someone else is? No.’ She adds: ‘I think it’s time starting thinking outside the box, because what we’ve been doing has not been working.’”
The reasons and goals for the Ride are clearly spelled out on StopPatriarchy.org and we stand by them. Reproductive rights in this country are under increasing attack and fast disappearing, leaving thousands of women and girls without access to reproductive care.
With so much on the line and the responsibility of ensuring reproductive justice for women in this country, we believe diverse ways of fighting back are necessary. Many people and groups are doing important work to address the current emergency and we applaud them. We invite anyone to join the Ride in person, or to support it in the various ways described on the website. All points of view and affiliations are welcome, no loyalty oaths are required, the only requirement is a commitment to reproductive justice!
Signed by members of the Advisory Board, Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas:
Diane Derzis, Owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi
Carol Downer, Co-Founder of the Feminist Women’s Health Center which began doing abortions in 1971
Merle Hoffman, CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center which began doing abortions in 1971
Wendy Robinson, Director, Voice of Choice
Mary Lou Singleton, licensed midwife and nurse practitioner, Founder, Personhood for Women
Sunsara Taylor, Revolution newspaper, Stop Patriarchy, fighter for abortion rights since 1995
Note: To learn about the actual track record and achievements of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride in the past, click here. To read “A Response to Recent Attacks and Invitation to All from the Advisory Board of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas,” click here.
"….In 2011, there were 46 abortion clinics in Texas. 21 clinics have already closed. Unless HB2 is overturned in the district court before September 1st, only 6 clinics will remain open. Closing clinics is a hate crime against female bodies. As women’s heartbeats are legislatively subordinated to blastocysts, embryos, and fetuses, women’s very lives are in danger. But so is the extent of what we are allowed to dream. When you are taught the fatal lesson that your body is not your own, you quickly forget how to dream in the first place, and that is what is at stake, too: Women’s hopes, dreams, and futures. Zip codes and state lines should not determine the worth of anybody’s future….”
"Nobody should be forced to have a child they don't want."
On the university campus, in Austin, TX, we asked students whether they knew there will be only six abortion clinics in the entire state after September. Many didn’t. A lot of people knew about the Wendy Davis filibuster, but they had not heard that abortion clinics continue to and will be closing.
A middle aged woman who had five children with her, stated abortions were illegal throughout Mexico, and only legal in Mexico City. She said they shouldn’t take this right away from women. We read from the flyer, “When abortion is illegal, women die…” She nodded in agreement.
A young woman took a flyer and continued walking until we said “Let’s protest.” She stopped, turned, took off her earphones, walked back up to us and asked “Where?”