by Mary Lou Greenberg
On Tuesday, July 23rd, rallies on both coasts will kick off the month-long Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, launching the beginning of a greatly-needed national movement to change the present trajectory and dynamic in the political battle around abortion, raising the call for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. The rallies will condemn the flood of new state restrictions on abortion nationally, present statements of support for the Freedom Ride from Eve Ensler, Janeane Garofolo and others, feature comments from abortion providers and women’s rights leaders and include speak-outs with women telling their stories of abortion.
In NYC the rally will take place in Union Square, north side of the park, from 4-7 pm. In San Francisco, the rally will be in Potrero Del Sol Park from 4:30-6 pm. They come after the just-concluded fund drive online that successfully reached its goal of $22,000, the initial costs to get the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride on the road. This was due to the efforts of hundreds of people, from those who donated a few dollars to several who contributed $2,000 and more.
The caravans will meet in North Dakota before August 1st, when new restrictive laws are scheduled to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state, then travel down to Wichita where Dr. George Tiller had an internationally-known clinic before he was assassinated four years ago by an anti-abortion gunman. A new clinic was opened at the same site, and the owners, who courageously fought to open it, now face serious harassment and death threats. The Freedom Ride will then go to Jackson, MS where a temporary restraining order is the only thing keeping open the last remaining clinic in the state.
All along the way, the volunteer Freedom Riders will honor abortion providers and clinics most under attack; hold protests against anti-abortion restrictions and events where women will speak-out about their abortions, breaking the present shaming, stigmatizing silence; erect visual displays that tell the truth about abortion and birth control and meet with people to build lasting organization to defeat the whole war on women.
Sunsara Taylor, spokesperson and initiator of StopPatriarchy.org, said “abortion rights are in a state of emergency, and this fight has never been about ‘babies.’ It has always been about control over women. You can tell that because none of the major anti-abortion organizations support birth control. At its core, forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement.” (Read our article by her and David Gunn, Jr., son of David Gunn Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman, about the Freedom Ride.)
On The Issues will feature regular updates from the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride in the coming weeks. For more info, go to stoppatriarchy.org
Mary Lou Greenberg is an activist and contributing writer to Revolution newspaper.