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Abortion Rights Are At a Crossroads: This is NOT a Time to Lay Low -- It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!

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Across the country, people are waking up to the state of emergency facing the right to abortion. As legislators in Texas push hard to close down 37 of 42 abortion clinics statewide, new laws in North Carolina would close four of their five remaining clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio's recently passed budget could close as many as three abortion clinics. North Dakota, on August 1st, may become the first state to effectively ban abortion. Already Mississippi's last abortion clinic is merely an appellate ruling away from closure. We could go on. From http://www.flickr.com/photos/36351219@N02/9227711167/: If I wanted government in my womb, I would f*ck a Senator!
If I wanted government in my womb, I would f*ck a Senator! by Pro-Life Waco

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame. Women will be forced to have children they do not want, trapping them in abusive relationships, driving them into poverty, forcing them out of school, and extinguishing their dreams. Women will go to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies, once again flooding emergency rooms and turning up dead women in cheap motels with blood caked between their legs.

We face two divergent roads: Either we seize control of the debate and reset the terms and whole trajectory of this fight; or we continue down the road of "established conventional wisdom," only to awaken before long to an unrecognizable and untenable situation for women. What each of us does matters, and matters tremendously.

It is in this context that we initiated an Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Our echo of the Civil Rights Freedom Rides is intentional and fitting. Women who cannot decide for themselves if and when they have children are not free. On the contrary, they are mere child-bearing chattel whose purpose is to serve and not actively choose their destinies.

Volunteers on this Freedom Ride will caravan from both coasts to North Dakota, traverse through the middle of the country into Wichita, and head due south to Jackson, Mississippi. Our aim is threefold: one, we must move beyond localized fights and launch a national counter-offensive; two, we must 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; lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.

As the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride evolved from conception to genesis, many have responded with enthusiastic and unequivocal support. Regular people from across the country as well as those who have been on the front lines of the abortion rights struggle are joining with us in demanding abortion rights without compromise and thanking us for daring to travel to where women's rights face harshest threat.

However, some who share our passion for the cause have raised concerns and even opposition to this action. They fear the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be too confrontational, too vociferous for abortion, and may turn off avenues of support. Some have argued that it is wrong for people to come into local areas from the outside. Others argue that mass political protest will endanger the chances of winning important court cases and that it is better to rely on official channels of politics.

Because the future of women is at stake, we feel it is critical to address these concerns head on. In fact, it is exactly the faulty logic at the root of these concerns that has contributed to all of us finding ourselves in such a dire situation.

First, while local ground conditions are different and unique in some ways, the fact that every clinic and every state is facing heightened assault is not unique nor is it local. We all face a national assault on abortion rights which requires a national counter-offensive. Not only is it utterly immoral for us to abandon the women living in the states most under direct duress, it is delusional to think that what happens in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kansas will not come soon to a theater near you. Our futures are bound together and we all share the responsibility to take this on and turn the tide where the attacks are the most severe.

Second, while it is true that a great many people -- including many who support abortion rights -- are defensive about abortion, they should not be ashamed and this defensiveness and shame is precisely something we must eradicate.

Among the reasons many are defensive about abortion are decades of propaganda by those who oppose women's equality but posture as defenders of "babies"; meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights have too often been conciliatory, muted, and compromising. This must stop. This fight has never been about babies. It has always been about controlling women. This is why there is not a single major anti-abortion organization that supports birth control.

If we want to turn the tide, we have to tell the truth: there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

A great many people are hungry for this message. They are furious and searching for a meaningful vehicle to make their outrage felt. It is only by asserting the positive morality of abortion rights that we can call forth and mobilize the tens of thousands who already share our resolve. Only through direct action and a polemical shift can all of us stand together and change how millions of others are thinking. Shouldn't this emergency situation awaken us to the need to change public opinion, not accommodate it?

History has proven that directly confronting oppressive social norms can be disruptive and scary; yet, it is a necessary and uplifting part of making any significant positive change. Many argued that it was wiser for LGBT people to stay closeted until society was more accepting; others counseled against the Civil Rights Freedom Rides out of fear that it would only rile up the opposition, but it was only when people took that risk and got "in your face" that broader public opinion and actions began to change.

We must create a situation where being anti-abortion is seen to be as socially unacceptable as it is to advocate lynchings, anti-LGBT violence, or rape (although, if you listen to some on the Right, rape advocacy is not necessarily off their table). When we reach that summit, we will be on our way to turning the tide.

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www.sunsara.blogspot.com

Sunsara Taylor is a writer for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can't Wait.

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Abortion Rights Are At a Crossroads: This is NOT a Time to Lay Low -- It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!

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I am so heartened by the many outpourings for abor... by Sunsara Taylor on Friday, Jul 12, 2013 at 4:14:34 PM
I agree, tho I would call it "forced childbirth," ... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 10:02:53 AM
Amy, you make a good point. And I really agree th... by Sunsara Taylor on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 2:17:52 PM
More than 20 years ago while in college, I did an ... by David Smith on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 2:03:16 PM
Indeed. You make a good point all round, and glad... by Sunsara Taylor on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 2:20:57 PM
It is rarely, if ever, noticed that "right to life... by John Jonik on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 3:22:30 PM
... on everything else. I'm adamantly pro-choice. ... by PCM on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 5:05:36 PM
Say it for what it is:  You want to kill a ba... by Betsy Russ on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 7:02:36 PM
A fertilized egg is not a fetus, a fetus is not a ... by David Vicks on Sunday, Jul 14, 2013 at 12:59:28 AM
It's debatable and there is a gray area but probab... by David Vicks on Sunday, Jul 14, 2013 at 1:06:26 AM
Some would have you believe that anti-abortionists... by David Vicks on Saturday, Jul 13, 2013 at 10:38:43 PM
How do you know washing bacteria on your face isn'... by David Vicks on Sunday, Jul 14, 2013 at 1:37:33 AM