Although the extreme weather prevented the NYC contingent of Stop Patriarchy from going to DC to oppose the March for ‘Life”, it did not stop us from taking to the streets for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology on the 41st anniversary of Roe vs Wade. It was a bitter cold day in the city, but our spirits were high as we started the day in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a Catholic church which has spearheaded the attacks on women’s right to abortion and birth control. The midtown area attracts tourists from all over the world, and so we had a very diverse audience as we chanted our slogans: Without this basic right, women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology; Forced motherhood is female enslavement; Stop the war on women; Fetus aren’t babies; Women are not incubators; Abortion is not murder. We also did a mic-checked -teach-in’ reading from our wonderful banner which reads “Fetuses are Not Babies’ and has a full scientific explanation of what a fetus is and is not, how it develops, what is looks like, and why it matters to know the truth about this!
Many people stopped to support what we were doing, including a young man who supported the cause overall but felt as though there should be a line drawn when it came to late term abortion. We explained to him, that fetuses are not babies, they are a subordinate part of a woman’s body until it is born. That a fetus is completely dependent on the woman, and when this potential person is deemed a full human being before it is even born, this says that a woman’s life only counts insofar as she acts as the host. In other words, if you say a fetus is a person, with rights of its own, then the woman does not have rights over her body. After hearing this argument the young man felt as though he had been enlightened on a whole different and very meaningful level. He thanked us for this explanation and promised to tell others and write about this experience later.
Another passerby approached us asking if we were with NARAL, explaining that she is a frequent donor of this organization. We explained that our movement and message are different from NARAL. We then compared and contrasted the two approaches: NARAL’s approach of lobbying Congress, working with the state, and softening the terms of the debate; and on the other hand, our approach of relying on ourselves and building up the kind of movement that is resetting the terms society wide, re-seizing the moral high ground, and sharpening up the fact that this question of abortion is fundamentally a question about women’s freedom versus enslavement. It became clear to this woman that the NARAL approach i.e. relying on the courts, and softening the terms of the debate to the point of taking the word ‘abortion’ out of their name entirely, has contributed to getting us in the emergency situation we are in today. The woman was extremely pleased to hear about this movement and agreed that what we are doing is what is really needed.