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NEWSLETTER  |  August 17 2018 

We are the ones

Are you tired of sitting back and watching as the gears of the Kavanaugh nomination machine grind on? Are you feeling helpless and small? A quick word: you’re not! Anyway, there’s not another savior in sight, so it better be us. That sounds like bad news, but it’s actually good news, according to Howard Zinn (and us). Don’t “despair about the Supreme Court,” he wrote, because the right to an abortion wasn’t won by Roe v. Wade, anyway: “It was won before that decision, all over the country, by grassroots agitation that forced states to recognize the right. If the American people, who by a great majority favor that right, insist on it, act on it, no Supreme Court decision can take it away.” It’s in our hands and it always has been, from the moment when those who came before us decided that they would refuse to keep dying from subpar illegal abortion care, and turned out by the millions to demand more.

Those words from Howard Zinn are good for at least one or two thrills, but if you're still sitting in your bedroom wondering what it might actually look like to insist on it, act on it, we're deviating from our regularly scheduled newsletter programming this week to offer an idea:

Confront antis in the street.

I had a “conversation” with one of the antis at our last action in front of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral—notable for its candlelit catacomb tours and for facilitating violence and the harassment of women—in which he insisted with complete certainty that the majority of Americans oppose legal abortion. “That's right, you’re losing!” he said. He rattled this off so confidently, as if this were just one of those known facts that we can all, at least, agree on, like “you should let strange dogs sniff you before petting them” and “the Iraq war was a bad idea.” He was so smug, and his polo shirt was so green. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t know off the top of my head the exact percentage of Americans who actually do support legal abortion, but I’ve done some quick googling just now and the truth is that it's a full 79% of Americans. This man just genuinely thought that his side represents most of us because that’s who he sees in the damn streets every Saturday. And what evidence have we given him to prove otherwise? The Women’s March was by far the largest mass mobilization of our side in the twenty-first century; his side has brought out tens to hundreds of thousands every year for almost fifty years.

We have a turnout problem, but the fix is simple: we turn out. Sorry to be reductive, but there’s just no other way around it. Expressing weariness with protests is a familiar liberal trope of the Tr*mp era (“I’m getting tired of marching all the time; I want to feel as if I’m actually doing something”) but besides being profoundly ahistorical, this sentiment is… unimaginative? Here’s a quick list of some ways in which direct action, and specifically clinic defense, actually does something:

We work towards keeping clinic entrances clear and harassment-free for patients. We teach the antis and politicians from both parties that pro-abortion folks aren’t actually on the run, we are their neighbors, coworkers, relatives, and friends, and we are everywhere. We shift the momentum. We shift the Overton window. We activate new folks. We expose antis as aggressors, not martyrs. 

I mean, speaking of aggressive antis: at an action two weeks ago one of the regulars from St. Patrick’s assaulted three of us. We caught his pitiful last stand on video here; what you don’t see is that man slamming his body against a female counterprotester and then punching one of our marshals in the temple. This occurred within moments of their group leaving the church on their way to Planned Parenthood and meeting our group peacefully standing in the street, and with the tacit approval of their spiritual leaders; they are visible in the video, watching calmly in the background. 

We always knew that the concern for life they profess has nothing to do with women’s actual lives; now we’ve got that on video. We always knew that their confidence was misplaced; now we know that it’s really terribly fragile. 

tl;dr: come join us in the streets. NARAL has called for a national day of action on August 26 to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination and we are honestly THRILLED to oblige. Join our contingent in City Hall Park; we’ll be the noisy ones calling for free abortion on demand. Get details on our Facebook event here.

And on August 18 at 12 pm at Verso Books, we’ll be holding an organizing meeting to discuss the assaults, our response, and our plan moving forward. Spoiler alert: we’ll continue to confront antis.

P.S.: After those assaults, the man was arrested, and we successfully kept their group from reaching Planned Parenthood for nearly an hour. Once they did manage to get there, we forced them onto a cross street, away from the entrance. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) 


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