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.
Fetuses are not babies. Fetuses have the potential to be babies. Women are full human beings, with cortexes, consciousness, relationships, memories, feelings, ideas, and plans. Elevating the status of a potential baby inside of a born female is just another way to dehumanize women.
The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas has connected thousands of people to a national counteroffensive that is refusing to bow down to the terms that have been set by the Right wing. We refuse to wait for courts or politicians to "come around" because we have no reason to think they will, unless the people demand it - unless they are forced to consider that if they continue on in this horrific direction, they will lose their legitimacy in the eyes of millions. We refuse to blindly follow the Democratic leadership on this issue, which has for decades sought "common ground" with patriarchs and anti-abortion fanatics, and led the larger pro-choice movement to apologize for abortion.
Abortion is not murder. Leaving women stranded, like they are in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and growing sections of the country, without any control over their bodies or access to medical care, is murder. Women with complicated pregnancies will die. Women who are driven to self-induce abortions out of desperation will die. When abortion is illegal, women die. This is a fact.
The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has been at the courthouse in Austin every single day that court was in session since August 4 - abortion providers are challenging provision of HB2 which looms over Texas and threatens to close all but six abortion clinics in this state of 26 million people. Damage has already been done by HB2 and similar laws passed across the country, and the last provision, to go into effect on September 1st, could do even more.
On the day of closing arguments, we left the courthouse and went to the Governor's mansion. Texas Governor Rick Perry has stated the goal of making abortion "a thing of the past." That means no exceptions. That means a nightmare for women and frankly, for society. Rick Perry called a special session to ram HB2 into law last year, in smug disregard for the thousands of people who righteously stood up at the filibuster at the Capitol, and in smug disregard for the millions of women whose lives this will affect.
Women are not incubators. This was our message to the world as we marched out across 11th Street on August 13, holding the pictures of women who have died from illegal abortions, and pointing coat hangers at Perry's mansion. These are the new terms that everyone who cares about the future of women should be fighting for, society-wide. We are sick to death of seeing women mutilated, forced to bear children that are the product of rape, left to die on Catholic hospital beds, and shamed and terrorized outside of clinics. When it comes to abortion, there is only one moral question: Will women be forced to have children against their will or will they be treated as full human beings which means being able to decide for themselves when and whether to be a mother?
So we stood there, uncompromising, we blocked traffic, and we were arrested. A crowd gathered and many people contributed in very positive ways. When the police dragged us off, they lifted a teenager by her nose, suffocating her and causing tears to stream down her face. Another teenager was yanked up and off the street, tearing a ligament in her shoulder. She was then incarcerated and put on suicide watch, in a solitary cell, forced to take off her underwear and wear nothing but a long tank top made of stiff padding and sit on a concrete slab, for hours. Another of us was isolated in a solitary cell, told she would not be allowed to talk to a lawyer, and that she would be in that cell for three days before being shipped off to a penitentiary indefinitely.
Twelve hours later, we had done more time for standing up for the future of women than Rick Perry has, and the blood of women is on his hands. We did more time than the Pope has, and the blood of women is on his hands. We did more time than the cop that killed Michael Brown! But we are undeterred. We chanted in their faces, we supported each other, we defied them repeatedly and refused to answer their hateful, homophobic, loaded questions, and we knew all along we had a movement at our backs working to get us out. We knew all along that what we were doing was exactly what is needed right now, all across this country. Now, for the same reason, we are calling on you.
Join in a Week of Defiance August 25 – September 1. Join us in Austin, or claim your own space wherever you live:
Across the U.S.: Send a message or abortion story to Rick Perry and others like him—through StopPatriarchy.org—to be put on coat hangers and strung up in public places nationwide, and read aloud at protests daily. Send photos of all your defiance to StopPatriarchy.org.
Contact StopPatriarchy.org/Week-of-defiance 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!