July 22nd, 2014

From a Texas Woman: Off the Sidelines… Because I Do Not Like to Be Controlled

Watching the filibuster of the Texas legislature, and the subsequent outpouring of dissent last summer, I felt a number of emotions. Shock that this was actually happening. Excited that Texas women were standing up for our fights. And jealousy that I wasn’t there with them! I was hopeful that this was a tide that was turning. That society was shifting in a way that was favorable towards women’s rights, specifically, the right to a safe and accessible abortion.

I was wrong.

More and more TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are being passed around the country. Texas is the latest example of how the legislatures can use the courts to ban abortions. But Texas must also be an example of how to create visible resistance to any restrictions to women’s liberation.

Part of the jealousy that I talked about earlier was due to the fact that I was sitting on the sidelines, living life, not getting involved with political matters. I think a lot of people do that and it’s understandable. As women, we have jobs and families that keep us occupied. But in my opinion, banning abortion is one of the tools that reactionary forces in our society are using to control women, keeping us subjugated. And I do not like to be controlled.

That is why I am supporting the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride as it makes its way through Texas. If the courts, reactionary politicians, and misinformation are allowed to reduce the number of abortion clinics in Texas to 6, in a state with 26 million people, and I did nothing, then I would be beyond jealous. I’d be pissed.

July 21st, 2014

Report from Austin: You are Not Alone, and You are Needed Now More Than Ever

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has hit the streets of Austin, in preparation for a raucous and revealing month of resistance against the attacks on abortion.  We have been talking to many people - on street corners, in theater lines, at student unions, and outdoor markets - about women, abortion, society, and the role we all can play in making history right now.

Of those who know that dozens of abortion clinics are being shut down in Texas, many are surprised to hear that this is happening all across the country: 6 states have only one abortion clinic left, and hundreds of restrictions have come down on abortion in the last three years!

To talk about abortion on a street corner or public place has been a startling thing for many people on both sides of the issue!  Some people, when we ask their opinion, say, “Isn’t that a personal question?” or “Isn’t that a very touchy subject?”  Some, when we ask as they pass if they know there will be only 6 abortion clinics left in all of Texas by September, stop in their tracks and come back, saying, “Really?  Only six?”  Part of the effects of seeing abortion as a personal or private topic, is that many people just don’t know that right now, women in southern Texas are living in conditions like the 1950s - they are attempting to self-induce through dangerous methods, or being forced to bear unwanted children.  Consider this story:

One pair of women approach.  One of them stops and angrily argues with one of our volunteers about how “irresponsible” and “slutty” these young girls are who just have sex, and don’t want to deal with “the consequences.”  The other stands quietly and listens.  The volunteer explains that there isn’t anything wrong with women having sex, and nobody should be forced into motherhood as some kind of punishment. I wonder what the silent woman is thinking, so I quietly ask her, and she says, “Women have absolutely got to have the right to decide if they’re ready to be mothers or not.”  I tell her, “If they don’t, it’s like society telling them they’re just breeders, not even human.”  She nods.  We talk for a little while about recent Supreme Court rulings, and all the clinic closures, and where that leaves women, and then I say, “It’s really important that people like you, who have a sense of what this is going to mean for women, be part of fighting it for real.  You won’t be alone.”  She smiles and signs a contact list, digs around for some money and makes a donation.  I tell her I am looking forward to seeing her again, and fighting by her side for what is right.  Soon her friend, still shouting and gesticulating up till that point, stops frozen and stares, her jaw literally drops, at her friend signing up to be a Freedom Rider for women’s lives, and donating her money.  They leave together, in intense discussion with each other: “I never knew you thought that way… But what about…”

It is striking that the anti-abortion friend was loudly throwing her opinion around, and speaking with such certitude and conviction, while the pro-choice friend who had a strong conviction as well, didn’t voice it at first, and not without prompting.  Then they left together engaging each other in a level of conversation about this most crucial question - about the direction of society for half of humanity - that it was clear they had never had before.  What’s more, this was not an isolated incident.  This same phenomenon between friends and family has happened several times already through our conversations in the few days we have been in Austin.

Imagine this on a mass scale!  Imagine all this opening up, where friends and family members laid their arguments out, deeply explored their differences and where their opinions come from and lead to, and more and more people confronted what the criminalizing of pregnancy and the robbing of abortion access actually meant for women.

Read More

July 20th, 2014

Billy Joe Cain from Austin, TX, talks about his experience standing up for abortion rights at the 2013 filibuster, what the attacks on abortion represent, and why he supports the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. 

Donate today to make this happen:

Then join Billy Joe in Austin 8/6 for a “Public Hearing” - where women and men will tell the stories of what happens when abortion is illegal, and deliver the verdict the following day through powerful protest against an all-out assault on women’s lives.


July 19th, 2014

A 17-year student writes: Why I Want to Join the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

"If I got the opportunity to Travel with Abortion Rights Freedom Ride I would be extremely grateful.

If women’s abortion rights were taken women would feel as if they don’t have a voice. As women we have honorable rights to do what we want with our bodies so not being able to turn to abortion when needed, would make one feel as if she has no control over her life. Abortions help women of all ages make an important decision about their life, while also making the woman understand that she is more than just a holder for the fetus. Being a part of something this special will let women know all over the world that they are not alone when it comes to fighting for our rights for abortions.

From second hand experience I know that abortion saves a lot of teens/young adults from feeling as if they cannot succeed in life. No one in life is perfect; nothing is guaranteed one hundred percent effective, and everyone learn from mistakes. I have never been pregnant myself but I have close friends that have. Some of them never had a good role model in their lives to tell them the importance of not getting pregnant at a young age, while others just simply made mistakes. One of my friends stressed herself out so much about her pregnancy, she decided to drop out of school and run away from home because she wanted to save herself from embarrassment. I was extremely sad to hear that my friend whom was such an honorable student, felt as if she had no choice in life because of a simple mistake. Since, my friend was extremely scared to tell her mother and abusive father I encouraged her to talk to a teacher who I felt would provide wise information about an abortion. Weeks later after the abortion, I was ecstatic to see my close friend back at school focused more than ever.

Abortion clinics offer young teens a choice to live again. There are so many teens unable to take care of a child mentally as well as financially. Why should one be forced into motherhood if they know that they are not able provide a stable safe environment for their child? In Texas, I would be happy to fight for what is right, there is nothing worse than feeling alone and held down.”

Everyone: Follow her lead. Help this young woman and other volunteers travel to Texas. DONATE. Come to Texas, send a video or written statement, organize a house party to watch the People’s Hearings, starting July 30. Be part of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride however you can. 

July 17th, 2014

"Wishing you all much love & determination"

Sharing a message just received from a generous donor:

It is my pleasure to donate & fund a Freedom Rider on this important mission. Go inspire/unite all of the women who need to know they deserve to be treated as full human beings capable of making decisions about their own bodies. Bring the message of another world is possible, free of the crushing oppression of women here & around the world, and they can be a part of bringing that world into fruition.

Wishing you all much love & determination in turning the tide & defeating the war on women

Join her today! 

DONATE $100…$25…even $10 will make a difference. For the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas.

July 16th, 2014

"No woman should be deprived of that basic human right."

Harold J. Hanes: Founding Artistic Director of the Encore Theatre, Houston, and English professor.

Donate today to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: GROUND ZERO TEXAS!

July 16th, 2014

"Women’s ability to control their lives depends on their ability to control their reproductive lives."

Wendy Robinson, new member of the Advisory Board to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014.
July 16th, 2014

Where are you in this picture?

Where are you in this picture?

Are you a female over 50? Chances are you took advantage of both birth control and abortion during your reproductive prime. You know how important it was to have those choices.

Are you a female between the ages of 20-50? Not a month goes by that you don’t think about your need for birth control and your absolute right to decide when and if you plan to have a child.

Are you a young woman under 20? You might not be thinking that much about issues of reproduction but you very likely are thinking about and exploring your sexuality and should be able to do so without the terror of your life being foreclosed for it.

Are you a boy or a man between 4-80? You have daughters, granddaughters, wives, sisters and mothers who deserve to be recognized as full human beings and who deserve the right to make personal, legal and responsible decisions about their own bodies.

Are you a member of this society, one of the 317 million people living in the United States? Access to birth control and abortion is an absolute right; it should never be up for a vote. It should never be subjected to the whims of politicians.

How many people in the chart are affected by the laws, court cases and culture restricting birth control and abortion? Everyone. Everyone represented in the graph has a stake in this fight.

Where are you in this picture? Where are you in the fight?

  • Donate $10 and then tell 3 friends to follow your lead
  • Come to Texas any time July 30 into September
  • Host a viewing party in your home for webcast of People’s Hearings each Wed in August. FIRST WEBCAST - Wed. July 30 7pm Central time - Encore Theater - HOUSTON 
  • Send in testimony to the Hearings of pre-Roe abortion stories or what women have to go through today
  • Spread the word on social media @stoppatriarchy, #StopForcedMotherhood #WeRide4Women
  • Take to the streets during the August WEEK OF DEFIANCE

July 15th, 2014
July 14th, 2014
July 11th, 2014

REVERSE the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling!! Protests happened in Seattle, San Francisco, and LA, and Jefferson City, MO.

Stop Patriarchy and WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) co-sponsored the Seattle protest, and 15-20 people gathered at Westlake park in downtown Seattle protesting the recent Supreme Court ruling. From the Facebook event page…

"Hobby Lobby is a chain of about 500 stores run by the Green family in Oklahoma, Christian fundamentalists that refuse to offer birth control in their healthcare plan. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 IN FAVOR of Hobby Lobby, taking the stand that companies have no obligation to offer birth control coverage to their employees. Just last Thursday the Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY that certain buffer zone laws that are meant to keep hateful fanatics at a distance from abortion clinics violate the freedom of speech of said fanatics. So the buffer zones in Massachusetts are rendered invalid, and similar laws meant to protect women and clinics across the country are imperiled. Two Supreme Court rulings in favor of fundamentalists’ "freedoms" and against women’s humanity."

From SF protest: There was overall shock and outrage, as well as an understanding that this is an emergency, and that the Hobby Lobby ruling came down in a context of a much larger assault on reproductive freedom. We marched up and around Union Square, and WORD led chants like “They say GET BACK, we say FIGHT BACK” and “The church and state don’t ovulate” Stop Patriarchy periodically explained why we were protesting and calling on others to join in, and leading chants of “Break the chains!” and “Abortion on demand & without apology!” and “Women aren’t breeders, women aren’t slaves!’ and “Fetuses are NOT babies!”

July 10th, 2014
Be the first to claim this PERK!  Or donate whatever you can to fight for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology - for women’s lives.  Even $5.00 makes a difference. For the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas.

Be the first to claim this PERK!  Or donate whatever you can to fight for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology - for women’s lives.  Even $5.00 makes a difference. For the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas.

July 10th, 2014

A Response to Recent Attacks and Invitation to All from the Advisory Board of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas

For decades, we have struggled to provide and defend abortion services to women because without the right to decide for themselves when and whether to bear children women can not be full participants in society . For decades, we have watched as yesterday’s outrage became today’s “compromise position” and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. Yet never has the threat to women’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom been so great. The crisis is upon us and each day it worsens.

For too long our side has been forced into defensive battles, responding to attacks in the courts and the electoral arena and public education and struggling to keep services open to women on ever shrinking ground.

Courageous abortion providers and escorts are working tirelessly to keep abortion available to women. We salute these efforts. At the same time, we must all soberly confront the truth: much more is needed.

We are involved with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas because we support its three overarching goals: 

  • Forge a national strategic counter-offensive.
  • Radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women’s liberation or women’s enslavement.
  • Mobilize all people of conscience to wage massive, independent, political resistance. Relying mainly on politicians, and the courts, has not halted the barrage of attacks.

The Ride has plans to hold nationally webcast public speak outs (modeled on the Speak Outs held in April of this year, click here to watch: webcast with Merle Hoffman, Dr. Willie Parker, Marge Piercy, David Gunn, Jr., Bill Baird, Sunsara Taylor, Rev. Donna Schaper, Louis Bernikow, pre-Roe testimony, provider testimony, etc.]) which bring alive the stories of women denied the right to abortion and brings together public figures to sound the alarm and as it mobilizes dramatic non-violent protests to directly confront those spearheading this assault on women.

Given the tremendous stakes of the moment, we welcome and encourage open, principled, debate over the way forward. Unfortunately, some have chosen to attack – even coining the hashtag #FuckStopPatriarchy, campaigning to keep people from working with or donating to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and spreading distrust and division.

We condemn this. In responding, we seek not only to address some of the particular accusations but to set an example for the kind of open and principled political debate that is not only healthy but necessary.

There are no “outsiders” in the struggle for women’s liberation. Some accuse the ARFR of being “outsiders” who should stay out of Texas. But the assault to deprive women of abortion rights is not a “local issue” and what happens in any one place will affect women everywhere. This is a global and national war, one particular theater of which happens to be in Texas right now. All of us have a responsibility to play our part in taking this fight on wherever it is most concentrated.

This is a Freedom Ride moment. What is at stake today is whether women, half of society, will be forced into a legal status that is less than fully human. Some have accused the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride of “appropriating” the legacy of the Civil Rights movement. This is absurd. We lay no claim to “owning” this legacy, who even thinks that way? We draw inspiration from the original Freedom Riders both for their moral courage and because they dared to challenge what most people thought had to be accepted as “just the way things are.”

Forced Motherhood IS Female Enslavement. Being forced to have a child against one’s will is the forcible control by a male-supremacist state, church, and/or man over the very physical autonomy and life course of a woman. It reduces women to property. There is a legitimate history of legal scholars, court challenges, and abortion rights leaders including Merle Hoffman arguing for years that instead of being granted based on the “right to privacy” as it was in Roe vs. Wade, the right abortion should have been based on the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave credence to this argument when asked about it by Hoffman several years ago.

Seeking to drive sincere forces out of the movement is destructive and has no place in a liberation struggle. With so much at stake how could there not be differences in how to understand the situation and how to approach it? What could be more important than openly airing those differences so that everyone can learn? We ourselves hold very different political views and have many robust arguments; this is a strength that enables us to unite ever more firmly and broadly in this urgent fight for women’s lives. In contrast, attempts to create a situation where sincere forces and legitimate political views are rendered “beyond the pale” and “personas non grata” is wrong and very damaging. It demoralizes and weakens our side, creates an atmosphere of distrust, serves those who hate women, and obscures the actual and important differences of substance and approach. Over decades, we have seen the damage this can do and feel responsible to share the lessons we have learned.

In conclusion, we reiterate our commitment to the future and lives of women everywhere. The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has no mission other than to defend women’s lives and freedoms. We call on everyone across this country to join with us at this most critical hour in whatever way you can to become a Freedom Rider for women’s lives.

Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi
Carol Downer, co-founder of 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
Sunsara Taylor, Revolution newspaper, Stop Patriarchy, fighter for abortion rights since 1995

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