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NEWSLETTER  October 5, 2018 

We make them uncomfortable

#MeToo came for Kavanaugh and he’ll be confirmed anyway. If not, someone else from the ruling class who would happily restrict our bodily autonomy will be confirmed in his place. We are swimming in patriarchal logic: they don’t have to look twice at Christine Blasey Ford to decide that she’s a liar, but even if she’s not (she’s not), it doesn’t matter; teenage boys can be drunk idiots and it’s not worth destroying their lives over it. In other words:

  • she’s probably lying = women are annoying disruptions in the business-as-usual mechanisms of the political process

  • destroying a man’s life = denying an already powerful man a lifetime Supreme Court seat

  • it’s not worth it = because he’s a white prep school boy (but if he’s black and it’s a drug charge,  or a toy gun, or a gun he has a permit for, or a loosie, or he’s just sitting in his own apartment, or he can’t afford bail………..)

  • boys can be drunk idiots = girls’ bodies are sites for boys to trample on along their way to adulthood (and during adulthood, too)
We are struck by how little we are asking for here. By saying, “I believe Christine Blasey Ford, I still believe Anita Hill,” we are just asking that we treat women as valid witnesses to their own experiences. That is a radical, yet fundamentally modest, request.

Of course, all of this has everything to do with abortion. The same conservatives who are hand-waving about how a man’s actions at the age of 17 shouldn’t follow him for the rest of his life are quite sure that we only want to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation because we want to “keep killing kids.” In this bit of patriarchal logic, killing kids = ensuring that a woman’s actions at the age of 17 don’t have to follow her for the rest of her life.

Again, we must point out how little we are asking for here: we are just fighting for the continued legality of abortion. In other words, we’re fighting for the status quo. And the status quo has been terrible for many years. For an example, look to Mississippi: An abortion costs between $600-800 at the state’s sole remaining abortion clinic, in Jackson. There’s a 48-hour waiting period, so you have to go to the clinic twice, and you can only get the procedure done up to 15 weeks into your pregnancy. If the clock runs out while you scrape together the money for the procedure, arrange transportation and maybe child care, and get time off work, hopefully paid time off, you have to go to a state like Louisiana or Tennessee, where you’ll have to deal with the same 48-hour waiting period, with even more driving. Without Roe, abortion would become illegal in those back-up states, too, and you would have to get on a plane. 

He will be confirmed. The ruling class will rule. How will we find a way forward?

Working-class women and survivors are leading the way with bold, noisy interventions at the seat of power. They are making the usual misogynist mechanisms of the political process uncomfortable for people who are very, very used to comfort. It feels as if we finally believe that our mass dissent can win us something. We have always had this power—this is how we won Roe in the first place, not because a benevolent court just handed it to us. But now is the time to finally rebuild this power into an aggressive grassroots movement for abortion access. We must extend our anger over Ford’s dehumanization by Kavanaugh and the ruling class to the millions of marginalized people who are dehumanized and deprived of basic autonomy out of the public eye every day as they try to access abortion; and we can’t wait until Roe is struck down.

To do that, our demands must become more radical. We don’t just want clinics to stay open; we want more clinics, we want abortion to be integrated into primary care, and we want to end the dominance of antis in front of clinic entrances so that we can enter without shame. We don’t just want abortion rights; we want full access. We don’t want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare; we want free abortion on demand.

We’re starting in New York City, where for over a decade a church has laid claim to the space in front of Planned Parenthood on Bleecker Street. The church is the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, and together with groups like Pro Bikers for Life and the Frassati Fellowship, they harass patients on the first Saturday of every month with “sidewalk counselors” and big pious displays that stigmatize everyone who enters the clinic. On August 4, we showed up to peacefully counterprotest, and one of their members attacked us, sending our marshal to the hospital with a concussion. On October 6, it’s 40 Days for Life, and we’ll be back at their doorstep. They’ve been quite comfortable with attacking us and our bodily autonomy for many years now; now let’s make them uncomfortable.

When: October 6, 7:45 am
Where: The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (263 Mott Street)
RSVP here

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