"I know that I can’t take it for granted anymore" - A reflection by a participant in the April 11th & 12th Abortion Rights Emergency Actions
-from a young person, new to Stop Patriarchy
A few years ago I worked as a canvasser on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. I knew that providing women access to reproductive care and abortions was not only just, but also life-saving. Although I had these beliefs I was unaware of the severity of the restrictions and repression of access to birth control and to abortions. I was not fully aware of the insidious agenda being put forth by conservatives and the religious right. As I attend events and speak with people at Stop Patriarchy I am becoming more conscious of the lies and misinformation that galvanizes people to take action against abortion providers and pro-choice people. I have come to understand that this fight is not about children or babies, but rather an agenda that is focused on returning to a society before Roe V. Wade, and on solidifying archaic and detrimental gender roles.
Before the protest at St. Pat’s Cathedral, I went to the speak out at Advent Lutheran Church. I think that this is where my confidence was bolstered. It was amazing to be in the presence of a body of people who support access to abortion and to be involved in rhetoric of support and scientific truth. I met Bill Baird who is a fellow Long Islander and pro-choice activist whose efforts made birth control legal for single women. His dedication, along with hearing the stories of other’s dedication, reminded me that as a pro-choice feminist, I am not alone and that this work is incredibly important. As stories unfold in the media and unfolded during the speak out it became more and more evident that abortion rights are in a state of emergency. As a young person, I see that many of my peers take for granted these essential services, as I once have. I know that I can’t take it for granted anymore and that I must stand up for what’s right.
Protesting at St. Pat’s was an incredible experience for me. It was powerful to stand in silence with the photographs of the women, and men, who have been killed because of an anti-abortion agenda. Most antis speak about babies and children, and it was so poignant to see the truth staring people right in the face—when abortion is illegal, women die. This is the reality and this is what people NEED to see and know. In this age of technology we need outlets to disseminate truth, and it was a privilege to stand on behalf of those voices that have been silenced by violence, and bear truth, especially in front of an institution whose beliefs have encouraged a culture of hatred, lies, and violence. One woman who was shouting at us said, “I’m pro-choice, but this is an inappropriate place to do this.” And, I remember thinking about how I am so sick of people’s political correctness and their wanting to be polite—it is such a waste of time and it prevents access to truth, knowledge and genuine connection. I thought and still think that St. Pat’s is a perfectly good location because it is an institution that perpetuates a conservative backwards agenda. The atrocities that occur to women because they have not had and do not have access to this safe procedure needs to be known and seen! Her comment solidified my confidence in the protest and in our message.
It was getting hot and I was getting hungry and wanted to shout back at antis and this minimal discomfort reminded me of the struggle of women who live in states where only one clinic is left or where access to abortion and reproductive health is severely restricted. Where do they go? Who will support them (financially and emotionally)? I do not want to live in a country where women are dying because they do not want a child or a family, this is just ridiculous to me. The anti-abortion agenda is steeped in archaic views about family, religion and their role in society and to impose this on every person is also absolutely ridiculous. Women are full human beings, abortion is not murder, and fetuses are not babies! I think those words are so powerful and can be used to help shift our culture so that women are not stigmatized, so that abortion is not stigmatized and can be accessed, and so that women are seen as more than just breeders or property.