Militant Journalism

Banner drop caps week of protest against NM abortion ban

Banner drop. Liberation photo.
Banner drop. Liberation photo.

In New Mexico, as part of a major grassroots effort to defend abortion rights at the state level should the unelected Supreme Court overturn Roe at the federal level, the Party for Socialism and Liberation staged two back-to-back actions demanding, among other things, an immediate repeal of a 50-year-old pre-Roe abortion ban.

New Mexico is one of 17 states where abortion would be almost instantly banned without the federal protections afforded by Roe, due to anti-abortion legislation festering on the books.

These protest actions coincided with the state’s two-month-long legislative session now underway.

On January 15, the opening day of the 2019 New Mexican State Legislative Session, over 60 demonstrators rallied and marched outside the state capitol building. Exactly one week later, on January 22, the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, a dozen members and supporters of the PSL disrupted the Capitol’s bureaucratic proceedings by dropping an enormous 30 ft. banner from the gallery of the House legislative chamber.

House Bill 51, pre-filed by Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces in December, could repeal the ban. This, however, has inspired little confidence in protestors. Over the years, similar measures to repeal the ban quickly died even when the Democratic Party controlled all three levers of state political power—the House, Senate and governor’s office—the hyper-idealized “trifecta.”

The resulting sentiment among many working-class women and girls is not to simply place their very lives in the hands of the pro-corporate Democratic Party, but to seek out independent ways-and-means to advance their own rights.

Student organizer and Liberation reporter Aja Dillard, described the mood as protestors rallied outside the state Capitol on January 15.

“By-passers in vehicles honked their horns and shouted cheers of support in solidarity with the protest. Passersby joined in on the rally! People from all walks-of-life stepped forward to speak. Their voices and stories boomed across the state Capitol. There was one motivational and thought-provoking speech after the next, each shining a light on a different aspect of abortion never focused on by bourgeois politicians and media, such as how it affects impoverished communities that are full of women of color. Some bravely spoke about their own stories involving abortion.

“We gathered and marched towards the doors of the Roundhouse chanting, ‘Back up-Back up, we want freedom-freedom / all these sexist politicians, we don’t need em’-need em’!’ As we approached the doors chanting, people inside flocked to the glass to see what was going on. They read the signs in solidarity with women’s rights and heard our demands, their faces shocked and surprised that a movement of multi-gender, multinational people had come together to confidently support abortion rights! The march continued around the perimeter of the Roundhouse with a huge ‘Repeal the Abortion Ban’ banner waving high in the air. Police and state officials stared-on. This march wasn’t about begging anyone for rights, it was about demanding them! The sheer power and force was inspiring!”

Satya Vatti, a leading member of the PSL in New Mexico helped lead the march. One week later, she was back, this time leading a contingent of activists into the House Chamber to drop a 30-ft banner reading “Repeal the Abortion Ban Now!” Before security forces and state police escorted activists from the chamber, Vatti excoriated both corporate-backed parties for their records on abortion rights.

“Abortion rights are in danger of being taken away, and it’s not just because of the sexist, women-hating Republican Party. It’s because of the Democratic Party, and their complacency, their weakness, their desire to compromise with the very people that want to take women’s rights away. If our rights are stripped, it’s not the rich that the two parties serve that will be affected! It’s the poor, working-class women, the women of Indigenous, Black, and Latino communities, rural areas, that will suffer. Rich women will have the money to go anywhere they want to get an abortion. It’s poor women that will pay the price for your inability to fight, for your weakness in the face of attacks, and for your partnership and compromising with those who want to take our rights!”

The revival of militant street-based movement for abortion rights is sure to continue!

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