A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO SAFE, ACCESSIBLE ABORTION ON DEMAND

While our Afghani sisters face an uncertain future under Taliban rule, we women in the United States have our own Christian fundamentalist version of the Taliban with which to contend. The goals are the same – to keep women barefoot, pregnant and locked in our houses, under the unquestioned rule of our husbands, fathers, and brothers, enforced by the coercive combined power of fundamentalist religion and the state.


The U.S. fetus fetishists’ latest monstrosity is the Texas anti-abortion law that prohibits all abortions after six weeks (before most women know they are pregnant) and that provides for vigilante enforcement, deputizing anyone in and out of Texas to seek $10,000 in bounty, plus attorneys’ fees against abortion providers, or anyone else assisting a woman in obtaining an abortion. By letting this law stand as part of its “shadow docket” (without benefit of full briefing or oral argument), the U.S. Supreme Court may have effectively overturned Roe v Wade or at the very least, signaled its intentions to do so.


Though this turn of events has frightening consequences for women in Texas and elsewhere around the country, for many women, abortion rights was already hanging by a thread or practically non-existent. Abortion has not been accessible to poor women on Medicaid since 1977 with the passage of the Hyde Amendment, a mere 4 years after the ruling. As predicted by radical women’s liberationists who regarded Roe as an inadequate compromise, women’s right to abortion has been whittled away little-by-little until what we are left with today is largely an empty legal right, unavailable to vast numbers of women living in this country. In the 1980s, Marion Banzhaf of the Abortion Rights Movement (A.R.M.) argued that feminists needed to take a stronger line than “pro-choice.” She said, “Being pro-abortion means going on the offensive to answer the attack on abortion rights. Being pro-abortion means that the woman is more important than the potential life– the fetus. It really is quite simple. The pro-abortion movement puts the woman first.”


The Biden administration and the Democrats in Congress are hardly blameless regarding the state of affairs brought about by the Texas anti-abortion law. They could take effective action to protect women’s right to abortion, yet so far have not done so. President Biden could instruct the archivist to register the Equal Rights Amendment, already ratified by 38 States, into the U.S. Constitution tomorrow, thereby placing sex-based protections into the Constitution, which would strengthen the legal grounds for abortion rights. Instead, the Biden Administration has fought feminists in court who sought this very result, while feigning outrage at the Texas law’s assault on women’s “constitutional rights.”


Additionally, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats could work with all deliberate speed for passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act (HR3755 and S1975), federal legislation first introduced in 2017, that would secure the right to provide and receive an abortion, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion from other medical procedures. They could also act decisively to re-configure the Supreme Court so far-right justices no longer dominate, which should have been done before the Texas law took effect, if protecting the right to safe, legal abortion were a priority. Though the Justice Department has just filed its own suit against the Texas law, this is far from sufficient to solve the crisis women face.


If we have studied our history, we know that women have never had our rights handed to us by men in power or by male-dominated institutions. Rather, we have fought tooth-and-nail for them, from winning suffrage, the right to manage our own financial affairs, civil rights laws against sex discrimination in the workplace, to achieving legal abortion. Much is yet to be won.


We are therefore heartened that the Women’s March and other mainstream women’s groups have finally called for actions in support of abortion rights on October 2 in cities across the country.  FIST plans to be there and we urge other feminists to join us. We will demand that not only Roe be upheld and the Texas law defeated, but that the Equal Rights Amendment be enshrined in the Constitution and that unimpeded access to abortion be guaranteed to all women everywhere in the country via passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.


To fight effectively against those who would strip women of our reproductive rights, we need at the same time to challenge the erasure of women as a sex through language and public policy. Gender identity can no longer be allowed to override or supplant sex. As the abortion issue should make clear, women’s oppression is based on our biological sex, regardless of the degree to which we may conform to or reject a set of society-imposed stereotypes about how women are supposed to use make-up, dress, and behave. Women–adult human females–are half the human race. Only women–females of reproductive age–have the capacity to get pregnant and give birth. Only women need abortions. Control over our own reproductive capacities, sexuality, and labor is absolutely required for the liberation of women.


So, using terms like “pregnant people,” “chest feeders” and “menstruators,” rather than being inclusive, actually undermines the struggle for women’s liberation by obscuring the source of our oppression and makes it more difficult to re-build our movement. It would be like refusing to recognize the racist nature of policing by rejecting the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in favor of “All Lives Matter,” as we’ve seen in the right wing backlash against the current wave of activism combating police brutality. Black people and their allies rightly struggle against such language. Women and our allies should be similarly willing to stand up for strong, clear language that abortion is about the rights of women.


It is time for women to fight back proudly as women for our sex-based right to control our own reproduction. We demand a WOMAN’S right to abortion without apology or impediment!
*********************************************************

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF FIST ABORTION STATEMENT

ARGENTINA LEGALIZES ABORTION!

This is an historic day for feminism in Latin America–Argentina voted to decriminalize abortion, thanks to a growing feminist movement, despite tremendous opposition by the Catholic Church!

Please join us on January 23rd and our SPECIAL GUEST FROM ARGENTINA, Jimena Diaz, psychologist, feminist and women’s rights activist on the successful abortion rights struggle there!

Tickets available at Eventbrite, for $5.00. A few free tickets are also available but please pay if you can in order to help us continue to fight for women’s rights.

Why Do Young Women Today Like This 47 Year Old Book?

That a novel by Alix Kates Shulman, first published in 1972 is being embraced by young women today seems to suggest that we’ve made little progress on the issues like sexual harassment, job discrimination, the sexual double standard, rape, abortion the beauty standard and the impact of marriage and motherhood on women. Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen was a controversial book, excoriated by reviewers of the mainstream media when it first came out. Although much of the terrain covered is now well understood, young women today are chuckling with recognition of the same struggles that the protagonist waged in the 1950s.

Some victories haven’t been reversed but the backlash has whittled away at many women’s rights, according to Shulman in this interview on National Public Radio’s “All of It” https://www.wnyc.org/story/memoirs-ex-prom-queen-reissue/.

Happy Women’s Equality Day

Keep this handy next time someone claims that 2nd wave feminists had no race consciousness and didn’t care about children.  The graphic attached was an ad that ran in the Village Voice regarding the first Women’s Equality Day march and rally– which was called as a strike– and where 50,000 marched down 5th Ave in NYC.  Another of the ads said, “Don’t iron while the strike is hot.”

In 1971 Bella Abzug, Congresswoman from NYC, introduced the following resolution into Congress and it was passed:

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States;

and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;

and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights;

and WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

Abortion is a Woman’s Fundamental Right

Our world is crying out as abortion bans are sweeping through conservative parts of the country, particularly the southeastern United States, the historical site of much slavery and the largest African American communities, as well as a stronghold of white Christian patriarchy. While some women in the liberal northeast and west coast may never experience these bans, Black and U.S. Native American women (groups who researchers say have the highest risk of dying in childbirth) as well as poor, young, and rural women (who cannot as easily access affordable health care) will be primarily impacted by these bans. In addition, the Journal of Perinatal Education states that unintended pregnancies — which abortion allows us to stop — are associated with increased likelihood of risk factors causing death in childbirth, which also happens to vary by state. Women will always attempt to obtain abortions, whether or not the abortions are legal. Women die from both unintended pregnancies and attempted unsafe abortions all over the world, and lack of access to safe abortions (caused by outlawing abortion) puts them at risk. Therefore, the bans on abortion amount to the state-sanctioned murder of women, especially those of less social privilege. All of the country is ablaze with fury and apprehension, and we are seeing even women who were previously apolitical now come forward to speak with their families and communities on the right of a woman to abortion.
The male supremacist right wing sees women as vessels to produce the working class, soldiers to uphold their various patriarchal nationalisms — and not as full human beings unto ourselves! As radical feminists, we vehemently reject this ethos. These are the hateful convulsions of an anti-abortion movement that knows many of these bans are nearly impossible to enforce. This round of bans are purposely unconstitutional, designed to force a Supreme Court case that (they hope) would overturn Roe v. Wade. But we women won’t let them. We have a vast number of sympathetic medical personnel nationwide and can end unwanted pregnancies privately during the first 9 weeks with the medications misoprostol and mifepristone.
Abortion rights have been whittled away, step by step for decades, starting with the Hyde Amendment. Because legislators couldn’t take abortion away from us immediately, they have been doing it slowly. Parental Consent & Notification laws, TRAP laws, mandated sonograms/guilt trips/”waiting periods” — an astonishing array of laws designed to deprive us of our bodily autonomy. When Donald Trump took office, his Supreme Court picks were specifically for overturning Roe v. Wade, and one of his first executive orders was an attack on abortion. As Planned Parenthood Action Fund states: “The global gag rule was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. On January 23, 2017, in one of his first acts as president, President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule. … The global gag rule prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.”

Trump’s executive order, which was essentially an imposed sanction on women’s bodies around the world, severely hampers women’s ability to obtain abortions and other sexual health care, regardless of the legality of abortion in their own countries. It even prohibits health care providers’ ability to treat AIDS, a crisis which Trump boasted about attempting to fix. The terrible impact is felt “especially in places where maternal deaths, HIV rates and unmet need for contraception are unacceptably high. Communities have lost access to essential life-saving services such as HIV testing, antiretroviral medications, nutritional support, birth control and pregnancy care,” says Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood.

It’s a United States tradition for the ruling elite to practice human rights abuses overseas before bringing them home. This year, we are seeing a wave of abortion bans. The New York Times (pdf) has the rundown. As of May 2019, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi severely limited abortion rights to the first trimester. Alabama eliminated abortion rights entirely, even in cases of rape and incest. Utah, Arkansas, and Missouri all reduced abortion rights farther back into the 2nd trimester, away from the framework established in Roe v. Wade.

The bans are being met with fierce resistance. Kansas just added abortion protection to its constitution. New York enacted a law that will preserve access to abortions, protect medical professionals who perform abortions from being criminalized, allow medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions, and allow abortions to be performed after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or to protect the life of the woman. Vermont is about to pass a bill allowing abortions with “zero” limits, as a “fundamental right”, and prohibits government entities from interfering with or restricting access to abortion, “ensuring that any pregnancy may be terminated for any reason at any time.” Some Democrats have claimed that the Vermont bill goes”too far“! And this isn’t the first time Democrats started sounding like Republicans: in New Mexico, eight Democrats crossed party lines to defeat a pro-choice bill. Nor is it simply a matter of going “too far”. A milder law comparable to New York’s was proposed in Virginia by Kathy Tran, who immediately faced death threats, and the Republicans spread fake news that the bill was about legalizing “infanticide”. The Virginia bill removed some restrictions on abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy, allowed abortions during the second trimester to take place outside of hospitals, and made it so only one doctor would be needed to determine that pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health.

We’ve never had full abortion rights. All the ways that the patriarchy nitpicks a woman’s right to abortion into “trimesters”, “medical” necessity, conditions of rape, harsher restrictions in some regions, etc, only serve to divide women and distract us from the fundamental right that women have to abortions on demand without apology, without approval, and without being treated as criminals.

Feminists in Struggle, like the early Second Wave Feminists, insists on FREE ABORTION ON DEMAND with zero questions asked. The only condition should be the consent of the woman who is pregnant. We also demand an end to the petty restrictions and code regulations (TRAP laws) that specifically discriminate against pregnant women and abortion clinics. We won’t stop there. We demand safe abortion access for women both in the United States, where we are based, and everywhere else. But because patriarchy divides women, the women’s liberation movement is divided into various camps. The Democratic party soaks up most of women’s political energy, preventing us from experiencing our full potential as a movement.

You must be wondering: what can radical feminists do? What can WE all do about this? Especially while we are still living out the war on feminism by dominant forces in the transgender movement, positioning radical feminists as underdogs in any discussion on feminism? Ridiculous rhetoric we’ve been peddled about “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women” is now   becoming “abortions for people” instead of “abortions for women”. We consider abortion a right of the female sex, but for us to say that in progressive circles will bring controversy and distractions that women can’t afford.

As radical feminists, we can utilize our position as the radicals and underdogs to push harder and farther than anyone else will. Our hearts are with everyday women and our right to control our bodies and lives. We will do what the long arm of the Democratic party would never do. We will demand ABORTIONS ON DEMAND WITHOUT CONDITIONS. Not to mention, free health care that includes birth control and abortions.  No forced sterilizations.  And… END THE GLOBAL GAG ORDER!  100% of unwanted pregnancies are caused by MEN, yet no one holds the men responsible for the life-threatening condition of pregnancy!

If thousands of women join Feminists in Struggle and turn it into a powerful radical feminist movement, we would be able to organize and lead marches for abortion rights and pressure legislators to secure abortion as women’s fundamental right  We would be able to all strategize together in a bottom up democratic movement. However, because our organization is young and still small what we want and what is feasible are two different things.  We will often have to join in actions called and organized by liberal feminists and other more conservative sections of the movement. But still our voices as radical feminists can be heard.

We call for united mass action in the streets. We call for civil disobedience. We call for all women to speak up about abortion. We call for you and us to join the larger marches under the FIST banner and apply pressure there for people to take up more radical positions in support of the complete liberation of our sex.

We call for teaching women en masse how to use and smuggle the abortion pill, and perform menstrual extractions. We call for you, if you live in a state that protects abortion, to consider taking direct action to provide safe harbor for women seeking out of state abortions. Bring back the Jane Collective that performed thousands of safe abortions on women in Chicago before Roe v. Wade. We want to educate women about women’s self help groups who work to keep women’s health in women’s hands. Educate yourself and others on the use of plan B, a medication you can buy at the pharmacy that is effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 48 to 72 hours following unprotected sex. Educate yourself and others on misoprostol and mifepristone, which can end unwanted pregnancies privately during the first 9 weeks. Educate women on preventing pregnancy and obtaining safe abortions. Spread the word to women affected by these bans not to sign any waivers when they get an abortion. You can also agitate and get previously apolitical women involved in the broader struggle. And of course… Join FIST and get actively involved by becoming a member of FIST’s Feminist Assembly!

Women are half the population. Women have the numbers. We will prevail!

We have a few suggested chants and slogans:

“Our bodies, our spaces, our sex based rights.”

“My body, MY CHOICE!”

“Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!

“Women’s bodies are not incubators!”

“It’s not a womb, it’s a WOMAN”

“Abortion on demand, NO APOLOGY!”

“Birth must be voluntary. Abortion is health care. Health care is a human right.”

“Free Abortion on Demand!”