Abortion-rights activist and National Organization for Women (NOW) member Erin Matson, right, and others, holds up a signs as anti-abortion demonstrators march towards the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, January 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Groups of abortion rights activists plan to gather in New York City and San Francisco tomorrow to kick off the bicoastal Abortion Rights Freedom Ride (July 24–August 21), a tour that will take the women’s rights protesters to some of the most vehemently anti-abortion areas of the country.
Caravans will travel from both coasts with plans to rally and gather support along the way, arriving in North Dakota before August 1 when new laws are set to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state. SB 2305, which Governor Dalrymple rushed to sign, places unnecessary conditions on providers of safe abortion care in a blatant effort to close the Red River Women’s Clinic, the last remaining provider in the state.
Then the group will travel to Wichita to support the re-opened clinic of Dr. George Tiller following his assassination during a Sunday morning mass by an anti-abortion gunman. Last winter, “wanted”-style fliers appeared in Wichita, listing the home address of the woman who opened the first abortion clinic since her mentor, Dr. Tiller, was killed. Then a pastor purportedly pointed a sign at the woman’s house that read, “Where’s your church?”
Next, the caravans will visit Jackson, Mississippi, where a temporary court injunction is the only provision keeping the last remaining clinic in the state open. In January, clinic officials painted the clinic pink to symbolize women for a variety of reasons, including breast cancer awareness and in support of survivors of domestic abuse.
The group, End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org), states it plans to “protest and confront the anti-abortion woman-haters, erect visual displays that tell the truth about abortion and birth control, collect and amplify women’s abortion stories in order to break the silence, defend the clinics and providers most under attack, and meet with people to build lasting organization to DEFEAT the whole war on women.”
Sunsara Taylor, an initiator of End Pornography and Patriarchy and a writer for Revolution newspaper, doesn’t think calling anti-abortion legislation a “war on women” is hyperbolic.
“Abortion rights have been in an increasing state of emergency over recent years,” says Taylor. “In reality, for at least two decades now we have been in a holding pattern where ‘yesterday’s outrage’ becomes today’s ‘compromise position’ and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. Who would have thought even a few years ago that we would be having a national debate over women’s use of birth control?”
Taylor says the group increased mobilization efforts following a slew of abortion restrictions and an increase in the number of states that have only one remaining abortion clinic.