Sunsara Taylor interviews young activists from around the country who helped organize #RiseUp4AbortionRights protests this past weekend about what fuels their determination to stand up for the right to abortion and how in fact, it’s not too late to turn the tide.
Find out more about the national week of action May 18 – 15 at riseup4abortionrights.org.
Refuse Fascism is more than just a podcast! You can get involved at RefuseFascism.org.
Music for this episode: Penny the Snitch by Ikebe Shakedown.
Episode 107 Refuse Fascism
April 17, 2022
I feel like we’re gonna see a lot of women dying.
It’s easier to defend Roe v Wade than it is to gain a right from scratch.
History and modern times in other countries shows just how powerful being out in the streets can be.
This is more than just a protest. It’s changed.
It’s now or never.
Sam Goldman 0:39
Welcome to Episode 107 of the Refuse Fascism podcast, a podcast brought to you by volunteers with Refuse Fascism. I’m Sam Goldman, one of those volunteers and host of the show. Refuse Fascism exposes, analyzes, and stands against the very real danger and threat of fascism coming to power in this country. Before we get to today’s show, I want to give a shout out to our monthly sustainers of Refuse Fascism. We couldn’t do the show without you. You can help us reach more listeners by sharing, reviewing. You can review and rate on Apple podcast or your platform of choice and go and click the donate button at RefuseFascism.org — after you listen to today’s episode, of course. With all the big monetized shows that have staff and publicists (and staff!), we appreciate that you value what we have to say. We read all of your reviews, emails, tweets relating to our show. So after listening to this episode, we hope you’ll share your thoughts with us. Today, we’re sharing some voices of young organizers and leaders of protests for abortion rights this last weekend from around the country. It was originally featured on this past week’s episode of We Only Want the World hosted by Sunsara Taylor. There is energy and rage and enthusiasm from people in all corners of society, but particularly youth who are not ready to give up the right to abortion and are fighting this onslaught. I hope you find it as encouraging and inspiring as I do. Why does the fascist movement focus so much energy on abortion? Why does their mission to control women’s reproduction predate the white supremacist backlash to the Obama presidency by decades? And why, as one of the callers to Sunsara’s show mentioned, do the fascists not work to find health care and support mothers and young children if they are so “pro life”? It has everything to do with the fundamental role of women in society and bedrock gender oppression that undergirds and knits together all other oppressive and fascist views. They don’t care about babies, much less their mother’s health or wellbeing. The whole point is to subjugate women, and they are on the verge of a victory in a fight that has been fought for literally decades. As we’ve talked about with a number of experts on the show over the past few months, the Supreme Court, with the fascist majority in place, is ready to rule on the case that will effectively overturn Roe v. Wade in just a few weeks. More states this past week joined and getting ready for this new federal reality. The fascist controlled legislature in Kentucky just basically banned all abortions by disallowing abortions after 15 weeks and setting up requirements for clinics and doctors that are basically impossible to fulfill, including by demanding doctors register before prescribing abortion pills on a system that hasn’t even been set up yet. I want to share some really incisive commentary from Sunsara Taylor, key initiator of RiseUp4AbortionRights.org that she shared earlier this week, because I thought it was spot on. In a video she posted on her social media, she said: “Kentucky today became the first state to ban all abortions. The only two abortion clinics in that state stopped doing them today. Right now women who need abortions in that state are having their appointments cancelled. Right now they’re being told that their lives, their dreamsTo be admired entirely from, their hopes for the future, their plans, their physical safety doesn’t count for shit, because a bunch of women haters, a bunch of theocratic Christian fascists have taken the reins of state and told them that they are going to be forced to have a child whether they want one or not. They’re going to have their lives and their futures foreclosed. If we don’t act, if we don’t stand up across the country and raise hell, this could be the fate of women across the country. The US Supreme Court is getting ready. They are on track to overturn Roe v. Wade, to gut women’s right to abortion nationwide in just a few weeks. People are sleeping through this. They’re sitting back. Most don’t even know it’s happening. If you don’t go out and raise hell and raise the green bandana and get in the streets and let them know, then you are allowing this atrocity, the enslavement of half of humanity, to go down. This is not a drill. Abortion is already effectively banned across Texas. A law is on the books to criminalize it in Oklahoma, scheduled to go into effect in August. Today, Ron DeSantis — that Trump wannabe fascist disgusting specimen of our species — signed a 15 week ban on abortion in Florida. This is going to be the future unless we stand up and stop it. Only the people can stop this. Only the masses of people rising up, raising hell, waving the green bandana, the symbol of abortion rights and struggle for abortion rights that came out of Latin America, and that rise up for abortion rights is taken up here. You need to be a part of this. Which side are you on?” As new revelations of the level of coordination and planning that went into Trump’s planned coup in 2020 came out this week, it’s worth mentioning that the common theme of opposition to abortion rights and even organizational ties between coup organizers and anti-abortion activists were widespread. After all, eliminating this right has been core to their agenda, and, of course, the main litmus test for Trump SCOTUS appointees, which have paved the way to this point. The fascists are getting ready. They’re getting information. They’re not waiting. They plan to use this victory to take the offensive and other basic rights. It’s infuriating. It’s heartbreaking that there hasn’t been more resistance to losing this right now in the US, including for many official organizations that are supposedly devoted to defending women’s rights and reproductive rights. If you are listening to this and hear yourself in this description, but have been telling yourself that it’s too late and pointless to fight to defend Roe given the balance of forces on the Supreme Court, please listen to young people who have been out in the streets, including in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Austin, Texas and other cities last weekend. They will tell you though, it’s possible and necessary to rise up to defend this right now. They will tell you to stop thinking like an American and look at Latin America, where people have actually gained the right to abortion in recent years through massive, unrelenting protest movements. For more on how to do that, and what’s next, I encourage everyone to visit RiseUp4AbortionRights.org. Sign up and take up the green bandana as a symbol of resistance and solidarity. Link up and organize actions throughout the week of May 8 as part of needed actions around the country to impact all of society, to be an un-ignorable force for abortion on demand and without apology. Remember that we are the majority and we have right on our side. We need to be creative, to be bold, to be relentless. We need to stop being so damn defensive about how important this right is to people who don’t want to live in a fascist society. With that, here’s the conversation Sunsara had with young organizers this past week.
Sunsara Taylor 8:04
I want to talk about and continue on the theme we’ve been on for weeks and weeks now, and we will stay on, as I say every week, which is the emergency facing women’s lives, women’s right to abortion; their fundamental right to control their own bodies, their reproduction and their destiny. The US Supreme Court is on track to take away women’s right to abortion this spring. Most people still don’t know this. This spring, and only the people can stop this. One of the themes we’re gonna get into — forced motherhood, forcing women to have children against their will, is a form of enslavement. Women need abortion on demand and without apology. Yet we are so close and the momentum is towards losing this right. In anticipation of losing the right to abortion, states across this country that are dominated by Republican legislatures, with 60% of the state legislatures falling all over each other, each one trying to outdo each other with more fascist restriction on abortion than the previous state. Banning abortion at six weeks, banning abortion at 15 weeks, trying to ban women from traveling to other states that will still have the right to abortion. It’s just piling up and piling up, and last weekend a woman down in Texas Lizelle Herrera, a 26 year old woman, went to the emergency room for help in a medical complication related to her pregnancy. She had a miscarriage, and somebody in the hospital reported her. Somebody snitched on her, turned her in, shared some kind of information with the police, and the sheriff down there arrested her, charged her with murder for allegedly attempting to induce her own abortion. Now we don’t know what she did or didn’t do. These are allegations, but we do know that she was put in handcuffs. She was put in jail overnight. She was held on half a million dollar bail. She was called a murderer and had her picture put up before the international media, shamed and humiliated for a pregnancy outcome that should not be a crime. Texas is a state where abortion is under a near total ban, especially down in the Rio Grande border region, which is where she was. There’s no access to abortion. It’s a huge distance to travel. Many people don’t have the resources to make the trip. And if you don’t have papers, if you’re undocumented, even if you can scrounge up the resources, you cannot travel because there are immigration checkpoints all along the way. So think of the harm that was already done to Lizelle. Think of the terror that was put over all women in that region who might have a miscarriage and need hospital treatment, or might out of desperation induce their own abortion because they don’t have legal access, who have complications and are now going to be afraid to go to the hospital. Think about the message that was sent to women everywhere, because this is the logic of banning abortion, criminalizing, arresting, shaming and shattering the lives of women. Now it’s very good that Lizelle Herrera’s charges were vacated. She was released, but much damage has been done. This should be a warning, wake up call, to everybody that we’re not making up or exaggerating the emergency facing abortion rights. So that’s just a piece of the latest news and some of the stakes. We’re gonna get into this today. I’m very excited to share with you three guests, people, young people who have taken up this fight for abortion rights, who were part of organizing protests last weekend, part of RiseUp4AbortionRights.org protests held in 13 cities around the country, maybe more, saying Abortion on Demand and Without Apology, US Supreme Court must not be allowed to take away abortion rights. So I want to introduce them and then I want to talk with them a little bit. They’re from different parts of the country. I want to start with you, Laura, you’re in Chicago, you’re a student, tell us a little bit about why you’re involved in this fight for abortion rights.
My name is Laura, and to be kind of blunt about it, I am tired of being viewed as the other sex, the other gender. We are all human beings and abortion rights are just the tip of the iceberg about how people are being treated right now. If you don’t start somewhere, you’re never gonna start anywhere. So I’m here because this is where it needs to start.
Sunsara Taylor 12:08
That’s great. And, Mari, tell us a little bit about yourself. You’re out in Los Angeles, it’s sunny, blue skies.
My name is Mari. I’m 18. I just graduated high school last year, so I’m still pretty fresh out. The reason I joined the cause, as human beings, we all have our own choices to make. Something as detrimental as having a baby like that really changes course for you if you’re female. I feel like nobody should be able to take that choice away from us, especially the government who always sees us as our Social Security Number and doesn’t know any of us by name. So yeah, for me, it was kind of a no brainer after learning what was going on. I feel like it’s just something that we need to stand up for right now.
Sunsara Taylor 12:49
Okay, great. Thank you. Anna, I wanted to get you to introduce yourself. Tell us about how you got involved in Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and why it’s so important to you.
My name is Anna, I am 16 years old, and I’m a high school student. Honestly, I would have to say it was because of the protest that I went to on International Women’s Day. It was my first protest. It was beautiful. People speaking and the sentiment that you could feel from all those speakers made me want to pass on what is happening in the world because some people don’t even know that in my school.
Sunsara Taylor 13:23
So you’ve been spreading the word about the abortion rights emergency at your high school and you say people don’t know.
Yeah, some people don’t even know what is Roe v. Wade.
Sunsara Taylor 13:31
How do you tell them?
I try to tell them about the green bandana, what it stands for, about the website RiseUp4AbortionRights.org, and all these protests that are coming up are these things that you can do to prevent this, also putting up flyers.
Sunsara Taylor 13:48
Okay, and let me introduce our fourth guest, and then we’ll have a little conversation. Willians, I know that you’ve been involved in the protests in Chicago, and what does it mean for a woman to be forced to have a child against her will? How does that make you feel, and why do you think that’s so important to fight against?
I’m Willians, my pronouns are “they,” “them.” I think that RiseUp4AbortionRights.org hits it really on the nose, that forced motherhood is female enslavement. And that’s not an understatement whatsoever. Whatever you picture, when you hear those words, what should be coming to mind is the most oppressive and dehumanizing situation that people who are forced to give birth that they did not want to, it’s a level of trauma and suffering that stays with them long. I think it’s important that people know how serious it is that the Christian fascists, a big part of their agenda is to control women. I hope people understand that there’s power in mass resistance, and that it’s imperative that you get out in the streets to fight back. If you care about women, about people who can get pregnant, you need to be on the streets.
Sunsara Taylor 15:01
Well, thank you. Both Anna and Mari gave incredible fiery speeches at the Los Angeles rally last weekend. But Mari, a big part of what you got into is you talked about how a lot of people think that abortion rights are a “white woman’s issue.” You kind of took that on with a lot of facts and a lot of argumentation. I wonder if you wanted to share some of that with the listeners?
Yeah. So, going through the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Instagram page and seeing people comment, like, oh, this is the white woman’s issue. It angered me and it confused me because, like I said in my speech, I was like: Melanin doesn’t give us vaginas. So that doesn’t make any sense. We’re all women in this together and and something that as women, you should be able to fight for together. Some of the facts that I quoted in my speech were in the year 2019, the percentage of legal abortions, Black women actually led the number of legal abortions in the United States. So, I mean, that’s one fact already that should throw that thing away, that it’s a white woman’s issue.
And then, when it comes to sexual assault and rape, and even back in older times, it wasn’t modern day enslavement, but it would have been eslavement of Black people in general, Black women were, at the time as slaves, it was always determined, their price is determined, by how healthy their offspring would be, because it gives the master more money. So I felt like based on the history of just that and based on the facts that even now in modern day times, it’s definitely not a white women’s issue. If anything, there should be more people of color signing up for this, because statistically speaking it’s more of our fight just based on the percentages.
Sunsara Taylor 16:46
Anna, when you spoke, you sounded very angry. That’s one of those things that everybody’s like “Young women should be very polite, they should be demure, you should be calm, never angry.” But I really respected your anger, your fury, and your energy up on the truck, on the stage. Why are you so angry Anna?
I was so angry, even when I was writing this, I was at my computer writing my speech, [thinking] why is it that I’m writing so much on something that people should fight for? When I was up on that stage, as I looked at the people, I saw most of the people are just walking by and that made me more angrier, because there was some people there and then you see the people walking by and not even paying attention or going about their day. I guess, my voice got even higher.
Sunsara Taylor 17:39
In terms of the future, what are you afraid of if this right to abortion is taken away? What do you think the future would be like?
I feel like we’re gonna see a lot of women dying. Innocent women, or women that shouldn’t even be in a situation where someone tells them: Oh, you can’t have this abortion, even if it costs them their lives.
Sunsara Taylor 17:59
For people who don’t know, the green bandana is the symbol that was taken up first in Argentina and then it spread throughout Latin America; Colombia, El Salvador, other countries. It’s a symbol of struggling in the streets, for women’s right to abortion. Those are places where abortion was criminalized, and women won the right to abortion through mass protest, mass struggle. They did what everybody thought was impossible. They made it a reality by standing up and doing it relentlessly. When you were on stage, you had a huge enlargement of this protest. I don’t know if it was from Argentina, Colombia, where it was from, but it was this huge poster. You held it up and it had thousands of women with green bandanas flooding the streets, and you talked about what it meant to you to see that poster. Why don’t you tell us?
Yeah, I had told Luna the day before, that I was gonna put this on my speech, the green bandana, so I wanted her to bring that poster so that I can be showing people as I’m saying my speech and talk about what it means to wear the green bandana. It is true when I said that it was beautiful when I first saw it. When I first laid my eyes on it, it was the most beautiful picture I have ever seen. I mean, I’ve seen other paintings and things like that, but this thing just caught my eye.
Sunsara Taylor 19:14
And in terms of you knew that people were standing up for something. Had you ever seen so many people stand up for women like that?
No, I have not. Actually you’ve heard of other protests around Black Lives Matter and they’re huge. Standing up for women, I have never. It makes you believe that people actually care, even if the people around you don’t. There’s other people around the world that did.
Sunsara Taylor 19:36
Mari, I see you nodding and I want to give you a chance. When Anna was talking about: You see people standing up around Black Lives Matter — and that’s important, that should happen, but then — it’s painful that this assault on women’s right to abortion is going down and you don’t see that kind of mass resistance. I saw you really responding, so go ahead and say what you’re thinking.
Yeah, honestly, I completely agree especially because, I mean, this has happened women as Human Rights issue. It’s not just a women issue, because at the end of the day, it affects everybody. So to see the capability of the protests, like see the capability of what the outcome of protests really can do, and the type of people that came together from different areas and stuff to see that happening, and then to come to an issue like this, which is also just as serious, and see less than half of those people show up. It’s really sad to me and it’s angering, because this is still a big problem. I completely agree with her. It’s really great to see how they can come together, you know, being on the streets, and it really was a beautiful and natural. I really hope that we’re able to come together just like we did with Black Lives Matter and do the same thing with Rise Up 4 Abortion because it’s necessary.
Sunsara Taylor 20:43
Okay, so Laura and Willians, I want to come to you guys. Laura, you’re on a college campus and you’ve been spreading this there. What are you running into? Do other students know about this? Do they care about it? Positive, negative, what are you encountering?
I’ve experienced some really positive things and some gut wrenching negative things. A lot of times, especially with the numbers, you don’t have a group of 50 people coming onto a college campus telling you you should care, so you care. When we went to DePaul for a couple of times and handed out flyers, posted flyers and tried to get people to sign up, and a lot of times it’s: Oh, I’m too busy. Oh, I can’t do this right now. We were literally outside of the DePaul’s Loop campus where there’s law students, there’s people who are in poli sci, and this lawyer tells us I can’t come, I have class. I agree with the issue but I have class. At some point, it’s like: When are you gonna stop following the system that clearly is creating all these issues, and actually be what a college student should be in breaking bounds and breaking the system that we were put into. I have had very positive experience with people who have come out and joined and just got into it. We did a performance piece with Patricia, and my people, my dorm mates, I got them to sign up and do it. It was beautiful, it was beautiful for everyone involved. It was like women being empowered. I feel like as college women, we sometimes don’t feel like that. We still feel like this other gender, this other sex. For people who do come out, I’ve always heard that they feel so empowered when they’re with us. They feel like this is more than just a protest. It’s change, and that’s really empowering.
Sunsara Taylor 22:39
You know, I was going to ask you to describe that street theater that you guys did it. I saw images of it. It was very striking. But I’d like you to describe what it looked like, describe what you did, and describe how it felt.
Yeah. So Patricia, she wrote the script, she got all the materials, she was amazing. She put this together last minute, too. We kind of scrambled at the end. We had these hospital gowns, and we wrote things on them like miscarriage, jail, 19, teen pregnancy, illegal abortion, stuff like that — the horrors. I feel like it was highlighting abortion isn’t just abortion. It’s not just this medical term. It is everything that falls under it. It’s miscarriages. It’s the illegal abortions that happen. It’s the women who don’t even know how the reproductive systems work. It’s the women who don’t have access to any access of health care for their reproductive parts. It was stuff like that, we were just trying to highlight that. It was in honor of the women in El Salvador who arrested the 17 women. And basically, we had that and then we put fake blood on ourselves. Then we had these guys dressed in all black, chasing us with chains and chaining us up. We also had protesters and people with signs that are trying to fight for our rights. And basically at the end, they knocked us down and we’re all dead on the floor while Patricia and Willians and all the other speakers spoke, and we were just lying there dead on the ground. At the end, we ended up breaking the chains to symbolize this is what we’re here for. We’re here for breaking these chains that these women were put under and their names will not go unheard. That was our performance piece, and being a part of that was just beautiful. It honestly felt like a ritual. It felt like honoring those who don’t have a voice right now and just letting your voice be heard through them and with them, especially walking through the city with the chains on, because we’ve marched with them, all of our voices radiating out of the buildings. It was just empowering to be a part of that.
Sunsara Taylor 25:04
The 17 women that you’re describing are 17 women currently imprisoned in El Salvador. So listeners know this, El Salvador is a country with a total abortion ban; all circumstances, absolutely. Whether it’s the life of the woman, even if the fetus is nonviable, even if it’s rape, even if it’s incest, abortion is a crime no matter what, and so is miscarriage. A lot of the women who are in prison are there for miscarriages, because by the time you get to the hospital, and people should know this, there’s often no difference that the medical professionals can discern between a miscarriage and a self-induced abortion. That’s not the case if you use a coat hanger or a sharp object, which many women have, and you perforate the uterus and there could be evidence of a self-induced abortion. But, actually, if you take the abortion pill or a lot of other ways that women try to induce abortions, you can’t tell the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage. So some of the women in El Salvador are in prison for miscarriages, and some of the women who will end up in prison here, including, there’s a woman down in Oklahoma right now, Brittany Poola, who is in prison for four years on the charges of manslaughter for what seems to be a miscarriage, and she was criminalized allegedly for drug use that they say endangered the fetus and caused the miscarriage, but they charged her with manslaughter and locked her up. She’s currently in prison in Oklahoma even before the recent ban. So I’m just giving some context of what was being dramatized and it’s very heavy that just on Friday before these protests, Lizelle Herrera, down in the border town, Starr County, Texas, down near the border, was arrested and charged with murder for allegedly inducing an abortion. Like you said, this is not an over dramatization. This is actually the stakes for real women. I saw footage, it was very powerful, and it’s very captivating hearing you talk about it. So Willians, you were at the protest where you saw this street theater Laura was just describing. Can you tell what it was like to watch that? What did you think that concentrated? What did it mean to you?
I think it was absolutely amazing. Not just being part of it, but being able to use creativity to really highlight the voices of the women who are unjustly imprisoned because of the patriarchal, colonial state that criminalizes abortion. I think it helps a lot, I don’t know if hype is the right word, but encouraging the crowd to really give their all during the march. It was just absolutely beautiful. Like Laura said, we did scramble at trying to get started, but Patricia was an amazing director, and we all did our best and I think it came out really powerful.
Sunsara Taylor 27:47
If people listening want to call in with a comment or a question for these young organizers, young leaders in this movement for abortion rights, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, you can call with a comment or a question for them. You also can call and share your own experience, your own thoughts on the struggle for abortion rights and what’s at stake with the Supreme Court on track to take away women’s right to abortion in this country. It’s expected in June; it could come sooner. And if Roe v. Wade abortion rights are overturned, there’s more than 20 states already with laws on the books that would go into effect banning abortion. Abortion is currently banned in Texas. Oklahoma just passed an absolutely total total abortion ban. It’s not yet in effect but it was signed into law this morning by the governor. I want to ask each of you, as we give people a chance to pick up the phone and call in, I want to ask each of you and I want to start with you, Anna. What gives you hope — hope for the future, hope for the struggle and this right for women?
I think it will be the people. If the people listen, if they take us — Laura was saying that some people just tell you they’re busy or they have other things to do. Well, we won’t take that much of your time. It’s now or never.
Sunsara Taylor 28:56
And Willians, we’re gonna go to you next. What gives you hope?
What gives me a lot of hope and inspiration is, as we mentioned, the Green Wave started in what is now South America and Argentina. The fury and the courage of the women from what is now South America, who stood up against all odds, decriminalized abortion. They did, the people, the masses. Not out proclaiming: Oh, yeah, I’m with you. Oh, yeah, you go, you got this. Out in the streets talking to their neighbors, talking to their family, talking to everyone who would listen and who would not listen. Not capitulating. Standing up, determined to win. I think we have Roe v. Wade now in the books, right now. Our situation is a little more different for the good. It’s easier to defend Roe v. Wade, than it is to gain a right from scratch. What gives me hope is just as Anna was saying, the people. The people have the power to say stop this fascist assault and the people in power really fear the masses rising up and taking their lives into their own hands.
Sunsara Taylor 30:09
That’s extremely important. We’re going to ask the other two of you the same question in a minute, but we’ve got calls coming in. So I think we’ll mix it up, get a call and then come back to you. I just want to underscore this: The people in power actually do fear the masses of people rising up. They try to psych you out — there’s all this news right now too, all these cynical voices, there’s all this dismissiveness trying to erase from people the tremendous lessons, a beautiful experience, which was the uprising around… against the police murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. It was beautiful. It was powerful. It changed the hearts of millions of people and forced this question of white supremacy and the illegitimacy of the police, and the institutions and the way that the court grinds up and justifies murder after murder of Black and brown people by the police. It forced all this into the open, and before the eyes of the world. It forced Donald Trump into a bunker. Remember this? We did a lot. People standing up made a big difference, but it’s been erased. That memory has been erased. People are told: Oh, it was violent. Oh, it was this. Oh, it went too far. No. It didn’t go far enough. This thing that the people on top actually fear the masses of people standing up is very profound, and it’s a lesson they always try to hide from us and erase from us, and it’s one right now — the Supreme Court is an institution, it’s a very political institution, they read the public will, they read what they think they can get away with in terms of legitimacy, and — the fact that people didn’t stand up when Texas banned abortion and took that right away from women, the fact that people just took that with a whimper rather than standing up actually gave a green light and gave the fascists, including those on the court, but also those banning abortion across the country at the state legislatures the indication that they could get away with putting their foot on the accelerator and doing more. Had people stood up, we’d probably be in a different place, and if we stand up now, we could be in a different place in the future, rather than the nightmare that they’re imposing on us. So I just really wanted to build on that. It’s a very profound and important point that Willians, you are making, and that a lot of people don’t see. So I just wanted to really build on what you said, which was so important. Now, I know we have two calls. I’m happy to say I just heard they’re both women. So let’s get our first caller. I’m happy to have men call to and people of all genders. So let’s get our first caller, tell us your name and where you’re calling from.
What bugs me most is that politicians are not talking about increasing taxes to pay for services for the babies of mothers who are struggling with, for instance, crack addiction.
Sunsara Taylor 32:37
So there’s not the assistance for real life women and real life babies. [Caller: Yeah] Okay. That’s an important point. I appreciate you calling in. I want to thank you for that and for that insight. Laura, you want to talk about what gives you hope? I know that we see a very negative future looming, and it’s getting closer each day. It’s becoming more of a reality, this taking away the right to abortion and the enslavement of women that comes from that. But what gives you hope and makes it worth it to stand up against it?
Definitely the women in Colombia and Argentina and El Salvador. They came out and they showed how powerful women are, and still are. I know, a lot of people still talk about the women’s movement and the 60s and stuff like that. They did it now. It wasn’t the 60s and they rose up. They did it now in our age. It just proves that energy is still here, and that possibility is still ours. There’s not that hope that’s lost. It wasn’t a fluke in the 60s. It was something that is still possible today. Definitely the people I’ve met through Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights who are in the streets, just their energy and their hope gives me hope.
Sunsara Taylor 33:53
All right, well, thank you for that. Okay, so we have Kay on the line. Kay, do you want to tell us your question or your comments? Where are you calling
Kay (caller) 33:59
I’m calling from Manhattan. I was in the first women’s movement in the 70s. Sherri Finkbine had taken thalidomide which caused her to have a fetus in her body that had flippers on the end of the shoulders. Women in England had that quite a bit, and they were all hysterical, shrieking to be able to do something about that so they didn’t have to have human beings walking around with flippers on the end of shoulders. My mother had to have abortion. She couldn’t afford to keep us because she was divorced. She had to give us to our grandparents, and if it hadn’t been for abortions, she wouldn’t have been able to live. She was a single woman who had a writing career. So if I didn’t say this, I know that if anything worse comes to worse, I would feel terrible having not even tried to do anything, you know. Women feel bad enough as it is. They’re always being told that they’re no good and they’re so much weaker than men. It’s not true. We’re the strong ones. Look at what we’ve put up with all these years and said to the men, it’s okay, when they say: “Oh, rubbers [condoms] make us lose our sensitivity.” I mean, it’s insane what women have put up with.
Sunsara Taylor 35:20
Mari, do you want to react to what she said? And also tell us what gives you hope?
I completely agree with everything that she said. I love the passion that she had behind her words. She’s completely right, women do so much already. And that’s all the more reason, that’s all the more backing up behind us saying that this is an attack on women. I mean, it always has been, but what gives me hope is Laura and Willians and those women in South America probably were able to start from scratch, and create the right to abortion in countries that are extremely Catholic. And also, just history itself. We have people in the LA chapter that are working with us that are older women, and they’ve taught this exact thing several different times. Just hearing their stories about the protests, or the police, like, you know, like the arrests and them holding arms outside of clinic back in the 60s, the 70s, it’s really empowering. These are women that are here, alive with us today and their stories, it does give me hope. And also, I mean, Martin Luther King, Jr, the sit ins at that the college students started back, way back in the day, which actually really wasn’t that long ago. All of that gives me hope, because in history shows, history and modern time in other countries shows just how powerful being out in the streets can be.
Sunsara Taylor 36:45
All right, well, we have just a couple minutes left. Anna, what do the boys in your high school think about this question of abortion rights.
They actually believe that a woman could do what they want with their body. I have heard one comment, though, that really upset me. It was basically like: Oh, it’s a girl’s fault for wanting to have sex, and if she gets pregnant, then it’s on her. So it did make me mad. It was coming from some guy, some boy. It made me mad to think that some people actually believe that, and they have the guts to say that
Sunsara Taylor 37:21
There is a double standard. I mean, first of all, people have sex. You know, if it’s if it’s consensual, if it’s respectful, then that’s their choice. It’s nobody else’s business. You never hear that: Oh, you know, somebody needs an abortion. Oh, that man never should have done da-di-da. They say oh, the woman, she shouldn’t have spread her legs. It’s always on the woman. It’s always shaming the woman for sex, shaming the woman for the pregnancy, shaming the woman for choosing not to be a mother at any given time. And it is about patriarchy. It’s about women being subjugated and having a certain role. It’s not about, you know, sex in the abstract. It’s about women having sex. We have… Actually, now people are calling in again. So let’s get one more caller. Tell us your name and where you’re calling from.
Caller (Tara) 38:02
My name is Tara and I’m calling from Silver Spring, Maryland. I have, I guess, a comment and a question. I am strongly pro-choice, and I’m sure you’ve heard that story: Some anti-abortion group had picked up a box from an abortion clinic and they opened it and it became a big thing and there’s photos. I’m just kind of wondering why we’re not taking — and by we I mean us pro-choice, pro-abortion — why we’re not taking control of the narrative. From what I’ve seen, it’s very quickly turned into you fetuses who I think were probably second trimester, they’re saying they are third trimester, they’re coming up with all kinds of stories. The photos are pretty bad. I’m just wondering if you had any thoughts on the situation. From what I can see, they’re probably fetal anomalies. We don’t know the stories of the people who came to the clinic, all of that. But again, I just don’t see that narrative out there to contrast what these anti-abortion groups are saying. I’ll stop there.
Sunsara Taylor 39:08
Tara, what you’re bringing up — and I’m so glad you are — it’s so important. People may have seen the stories. It’s been out with a lot. Maybe not everybody has, but there is this group of anti-abortion fanatics and they are extreme fanatics. They’re trying to pose as something moderate, reasonable, whatever. These people are really extreme, and they got their hands on fetal remains from an abortion clinic, and they’re out there trying to have funerals for the fetuses. They’re trying to do all this ceremony as if they’re people. They stole these, you know. What they did is criminal, just to be real. These are biohazard remains, and you’re exactly right. The anti-abortion fanatics are trying to use this to open up police inquiries on the abortion clinics, and say how do we know if they were legal? There needs to be autopsies, all of this stuff. It is really just the latest scam to try to shut down abortion clinics, shame and demonize them. I think the particularity they always latch onto is later term abortions, because the fetus is more developed, it’s it’s got more of the features of a baby. A fetus is, an embryo is, becoming over time… It’s a form of life and it’s becoming a person, but it’s not a person until it’s born. But yes, the further along it develops, the more babylike it looks, and that’s just biology, but they take that and they sentimentalize it. And they make it like these are babies who are being killed. And the thing that I just want to take a moment on because you’re indicating it and it’s profoundly important. Most overwhelming number of abortions are in the first trimester. They’re overwhelmingly early. The reasons why women wait to get them later are severalfold. One, they have a hard time getting the resources and the access because abortion clinics are harder to get to. There’s more obstacles, there’s more barriers, and you have to bring together the money. So A, you might have to wait. B, people have life circumstances that change. Maybe you thought the guy was gonna marry you, you thought you’re gonna go one way and things get sharpened up and they go another way. Life changes or something else intervenes. And C, the most serious fetal anomalies don’t get discovered until the 18th, 19th, 20th week in the pregnancy. So then you’re you have a wanted pregnancy that goes wrong and you need a termination, or a woman has a medical complication. So the later term are extremely rare and they are very necessary. The anti-abortion movement zeroes in on those cases and makes a big deal about them and really tries to play on the sentiments of “baby killing”. So there’s a lot of dishonesty. That’s just sort of background on the issue. But to your point, I think it’s a valid point. I don’t think the pro-choice side has done anything like answering this and calling this out. The person who led that press conference with their fetal parts was Randall Terry, who is the founder of Operation Rescue back in 1986. This man has blood on his hands. He is part of whipping up an atmosphere, doing clinic blockades, violent blockades, harassment of women in the 80s and 90s. It led to doctors being assassinated. These are not moderate people. This is a cover to demonize and attack and whip up anti-abortion sentiment. I don’t think it’s been answered anything the way it needs to, which will get me to my last point. I’m sorry, everybody, I took longer than I should have. My last point is that overall the people who support abortion rights, overall the movement, the so-called movement, the so-called pro-choice movement, has totally capitulated and defensive and mealy-mouthed and not going on the offense and fighting. So this not fighting on the fetal body parts is just in line with not fighting around abortion overall, which is the vacuum that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is stepping in to fill. So Tara, you raise a really profoundly important thing. You are provoking me to think more about what should be done about this. I just want to take one moment and if there’s any closing words, Laura, do you have anything you want to close out by saying?
With that last point you just made, I completely agree. There’s so much pro-life bullshit. I just saw recently that this channel Girl Defiant is making a documentary that’s basically stating that abortion is the next Holocaust and that we’re killing these children. One thing I’m gonna say is that I will keep my consent to having a child. Having a child should be 100% consensual and the mother has to be fully wanting of this child for it to be right. I’m kind of upset about the women’s movement. I know we get a lot of talks in Chicago, especially, they’re like: Where’s the women’s movement? Where are they right now? We have all these marches and rallies and they’re not here, the women are not here. And for all those women, don’t wait for them. Come out and join us now. There’s no time to wait. And for everyone out there, wear green. Paint Rise Up 4 Abortion on a T-shirt. Even in high school — banner drop in your high school. Be disobedient. Don’t listen. Don’t wait for the big top guns to tell you how to run things.
Sunsara Taylor 44:25
Well, listen, I want to thank all of you, and everybody. I appreciate everybody tuning in and listening to the conversation, including where some of it was a little choppier to hear and I want to thank all of you guys for being part of it. Let everybody listening know the website is RiseUp4AbortionRights.org, and there’s a week of action coming up May 8th – 15th. So Willians, Anna, Mari, Laura, thank you all.
Sam Goldman 44:47
Thanks for listening to Refuse Fascism. I want to hear from you. Share your thoughts, questions, ideas for topics or guests or lend a skill. Tweet me @SamBGoldman or drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a voicemail by going to Anchor.fm/refuse-fascism and clicking the message button there. Want to support the show? It’s simple. Show us some love by rating and reviewing on Apple podcasts or your listening platform of choice. And of course, follow/subscribe so you never miss an episode. Chip in to support our pod and content creation to help people understand and to stop the fascist threat. Donate at RefuseFascism.org. Just hit that donate button. Thanks to Richie Marini and Lina Thorne for helping produce this episode. Thanks to the We Only Want the World team, especially Sunsara Taylor. Thanks to incredible volunteers, we have transcripts available for each episode, so be sure to visit RefuseFascism.org and sign up to get them in your inbox each week. We’ll be back next Sunday. Until then, in the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America.