By Sunsara Taylor, written for Revolution Newspaper (revcom.us)
November 3, 2013
I want to speak to something that I have heard advocated by abortion rights supporters with increasing frequency as the attacks on abortion rights escalate to a fevered pitch across this country. As abortion clinics are closed down at an alarming rate, as access to abortion is restricted beyond the reach of many poor and rural women already, and as new laws and restrictions mount, it is not uncommon to hear some of the most dedicated fighters in the pro-choice movement insist that it is time to begin developing underground networks that will be able to continue providing abortions to women even if it becomes illegal.
The first time I heard this approach advocated more than fifteen years ago at a women’s conference, I found it extremely attractive because it had the appearance of defiance and determination not to be stopped by unjust and illegitimate laws. However, now when I hear this advocated I hear the air of desperation, defeat and honestly a degree of self-delusion.
To be clear, the stand and orientation of being willing to risk one’s own safety to provide women with basic, life-saving and fundamental rights is undoubtably righteous. More people need to be willing to put themselves on the line, to risk great sacrifice, for the lives and freedom of women. That is not the problem I have with this strategy and that is not the criticism that I have of people who advocate for it.
The problems I see with this strategy are three-fold: