Abortion Rights Activists Fight Back With Mutual Aid and Direct Action in 2022

As the Supreme Court considers the future of reproductive health and abortion rights, it is hard not to feel a sense of defeat and fear. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case. Brought against Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which runs the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, this case could reshape abortion law countrywide. A 15-week ban is one of the restrictions being challenged. This is the one abortion advocates are closely monitoring. This 15-week restriction, if it is upheld would be the first pre-viability ban on abortion that the Supreme Court has upheld. This landmarkRoe v. WadeThis case established the precedent that states cannot outlaw abortion before the viability line, which currently hovers at 23 to 24 weeks gestation. This ban would be upheld by the court and many other states would be able adopt similar, or even more restrictive, laws.

This is also coming at the same time that on December 27, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hold a hearing on Texas’s draconian six-week abortion ban. This did not alleviate the concerns of reproductive justice activists. Abortion providers quickly filed a brief to Supreme Court in response, arguing that this action was unnecessary and time-consuming. Abortion rights activists fear that this decision will set off a game of pingpong between federal and state courts about who can challenge which parts of the restrictions and which courts. Despite the fact that this law is being challenged, Texas women who are able to become pregnant are still trying to find abortion care.

However, activists from all over the country are not losing heart. They are instead strategizing on how to turn the tide. Organizers from Wisconsin, Chicago and New York City as well as Seattle and Everett (Washington) tell TruthoutFind out about their organizing plans for next year and what their hopes, fears, dreams, and aspirations are for abortion rights in 2022.

“Our dream is reproductive freedom,” says Hayley Archer, a Democratic Socialists of America member and organizer in the Madison, Wisconsin, Socialist Feminist working group. The caucus works to repeal one of many preexisting laws.Roe v. WadeThere are no state laws that prohibit abortion in any circumstance. Eight states total have similar lawsBooks that date back as far as the 18th Century, but were never repealed after the passage of Roe. Archer tells that two pro-choice state legislators introduced in 2020 the Abortion Rights Preservation Bill into Wisconsin’s legislature. However, the bill has been languishing among committees. TruthoutIt is unlikely it will happen right now.

“We’re not organizing to lobby or to wait for the ‘experts’ to do the right thing,” she says. “Our campaign aims to build solidarity relationships with Wisconsin abortion rights [activists] and reproductive justice organizers.”

Archer is among many who have come to the conclusion that lobbying elected officials and voting for pro-choice candidates won’t be enough to protect abortion access. Her organization’s focus on repealing the abortion ban while also building community, solidarity and engaging in mutual aid is gaining steam across the country.

Many grassroots groups are seeking to take direct action to build momentum. New York City for Abortion RightsThe organization has been organizing direct abortion clinic defense since close to a decade and is now looking for an alternative to the non-confrontational, conservative politics of the older wave feminist organizations.

Lizzie Chadbourne, a member of NYC for Abortion Rights, is a public health researcher whose research focuses on abortion and reproductive health. She is concerned about two main threats that will make it difficult to win abortion rights in the coming year. She identifies the movement’s biggest threats as “a lack of mobilization, education energy regarding abortion on the left, and the effort of anti-abortion groups to co-opt progressive ideas and language to further their objectives.” For example, organizations like the Susan B. Anthony List and Feminists for Life have turned feminist concepts of “choice” and “freedom” on their heads, insisting that abortion represents a failure of modern society to support birthing people and families. The anti-choice movement has moved from fire and brimstone towards young activists like Lila Rose. short documentaryBy The Atlantic. They have modern, sleek websites that are similar in style and color to organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the Feminist Majority Foundation. Their language is insidious because pro-abortion activists would agree that working parents are being deprived by our system and they deserve better.

The anti-abortion machinery has been working hard for 50 years to bring about its overthrow RoeMany liberals have been fooled into believing that voting for Democratic politicians will guarantee abortion access. Each of the activists that spoke with TruthoutAlthough expressing deep concern about losing national abortion rights was a strong message, it also highlighted the fact that many women who can become pregnant are already living post-abortion life.Roe world.

“While affluent people will continue to access safe abortion care, even if that means crossing state lines, working-class people won’t be able to travel to access reproductive health care, and they will resort to unsafe abortions, just as in the days before Roe,” says Anne Rumberger, another member of NYC for Abortion Rights.

With the decision in Dobbs With the case of Abortion Rights’s Chadbourne, many stressed the importance for local action, as opposed to a coordinated national response. NYC for Abortion Rights’s Chadbourne offered this advice for those who are wanting to get involved and make a difference: “Start local and work to support existing abortion funds. Folks across the U.S. can amplify the call to fundraise for abortion funds that cover not only the cost of procedures, but also help with costs associated with travel or missing work and assist with the organization of transportation and lodging, if necessary.”

There is undeniable sadness and fear in the abortion activist world, and deep frustration with the large women’s rights organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America and the political arm of Planned Parenthood, for allying themselves with the Democratic Party over mobilizing the grassroots organizations and decoupling abortion rights from other struggles. Michael Dola, another organizer with NYC for Abortion Rights, touched on this point, and argued that in order to win free abortion on demand, “We have to be as integrated as possible with where people are already in motion: particularly from Black Lives Matter and … abolition-focused work, but also with tenants’ rights and housing struggles, environmental [and]Land Defender movements. No one has a blueprint for this, but many of us clearly feel that deep intersectionality and real freedom need to be the red threads uniting all of us.”

Chicago for Abortion Rights’ leader Lisa Loew says that some of the knitting-together of movements has already begun. She pointed to a burgeoning coalition that is working to build a large counter-demonstration to the annual March for Life in Chicago on January 8, 2022. She noted that Planned Parenthood of Illinois (Chicago NOW), Chicago Abortion Fund (Chicago Abortion Fund), the Illinois Single Payer Coalition and the Chicago Teachers Union, National Nurses United and the American Transportation Union are all part of this response.

Following the March for Life counterprotest, Chicago for Abortion Rights is planning “continued and escalating activities into the spring, all before the [Supreme]The Court is expected to issue its ruling [in the Dobbs case],” Loew tells Truthout. “We know we can’t rely on any politicians to rescue us, or even a sympathetic [Supreme]Court justice. The Supreme Court doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If the feminists of Argentina, Mexico and Ireland can mobilize millions of supporters in the streets to decriminalize abortions, so can we.”

The Chicago coalition works in collaboration with Clinic Vest Project, which provides vests for clinic escorts in the United States to help them distinguish themselves from anti-abortion demonstrators. Benita Ulisano organizes clinic-escorts for Illinois Choice Action Team. She also founded and is the president of Clinic Vest Project. When asked about her hopes for 2022, Ulisano said that her goals include “educating those who are not as connected in the movement as we are. Those who are prochoice but not engaged enough to understand what is at stake. Abortion will never stop, only safe abortion will.… It breaks my heart to see what is happening now. I got involved in this movement when someone I know died of an illegal abortion.”

As we enter a new age of abortion rights activism, the movement needs to examine the actions that led it to this point. NYC for Abortion Rights’s Dola was dismayed by the small attendance of pro-abortion activists at the Supreme Court during the Dobbs case. He feels like the time for non-engagement and “respectability politics” in the abortion rights movement is over. “The reproductive justice/abortion rights movement needs to prioritize unrelenting, creative and tactically astute modes of direct action/confrontation with whatever antis show up to clinics, rallies, and other politicized spaces.”

One of most publicized and salient political actions of the December 1, actions during the DobbsHear was Shout Your AbortionSelf-administration of mifepristone by activists is possible abortion-inducing pillAs part of a national action day to increase awareness about abortion pills and how to manage it, a group of protestors gathered outside the SCOTUS building. Shout Your Abortion founder Amelia Bonow told Truthout that taking the abortion pill in public represents “a new front in pro-abortion activism…. We weren’t just doing so to raise awareness of the drugs, but to show that we do not care what this or any court rules about abortion — we will be having abortions and helping each other have safe abortions forever.”

As abortion activists prepare to see sweeping restrictions on abortion in the next year, their creativity, dedication, and desire for justice can be felt even as they describe the dire circumstances in their own states. Janean Desmarais, a clinic defense lawyer with Everett Clinic Defense, is a suburb just 30 minutes north from Seattle. She recounts their years-long struggle with Everett to refuse to take them on. violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Actat their local clinic. Since 2005, activists have been protecting the clinic from anti abortion harassment by holding signs in front anti-abortion demonstrators and keeping clinic doors clear. They also advocate for local buffer zones protections and prosecution of clinic intruders.

Desmarais and many others have not been stopped. “The harassment and threats to patients and staff is not going to go away, and neither are we. See you on the sidewalk,” she says.