Photo: Protesters demonstrate in support of a Planned Parenthood clinic that was vandalized twice this week. Liberation photo
On May 26, nearly 100 activists and community members came out for an emergency mobilization in defense of reproductive rights.
Earlier in the week, a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago was vandalized two nights in a row. The protest, organized by Chicago for Abortion Rights, Chicago Feminist Action and other community organizations, gathered near the clinic to take a united stand against anti-woman and anti-trans bigotry, and in defense of abortion rights.
Clinics like Planned Parenthood which provide vital services, such as abortions and gender-affirming health care for trans people, are frequently subjected to harassment and violence from right-wing forces. Across the country, women are jeered at and threatened as they walk into clinics, or shown graphic photos of aborted fetuses. Clinics have been burned to the ground, and abortion providers, such as Dr. George Tiller, have been assassinated in acts of sexist, anti-abortion terror.
Rachel Cohen, an organizer with Chicago Feminist Action, pointed out how even solidly Democratic cities like Chicago are not immune from this sort of violence, stating, “A lot of clinics face violence from the so-called pro-life crowd, but it is really disturbing that someone would try to intimidate health care providers here in such a pro-choice city.”
An open mic at the rally gave attendees a chance to share why they came out. Women talked of their experiences accessing abortion and trans health care, as well as working in the field of reproductive health care. All expressed the same message: health care, including abortion, is a human right, and we cannot allow it to be taken away.
Right-wing backlash against reproductive rights
This vandalism occurred as part of a broader nationwide assault on reproductive rights. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case directly challenging Roe v Wade; Texas governor Greg Abbott has signed into law a disgusting, anti-abortion “fetal heartbeat” bill; and states across the country have either introduced or passed legislation barring trans youth from playing sports and accessing gender-affirming health care.
Illinois, a solid blue state, is no stranger to anti-abortion laws. Currently, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act forces girls under the age of 17 to notify an adult family member at least 48 hours before receiving an abortion. Predictably, this prevents many teens from accessing abortion care in a timely fashion. As a result they are made to either carry unwanted pregnancies to term or navigate a confusing legal system by themselves in order to obtain a signature from a judge to bypass the parental notice requirement.
Militant fightback is needed!
This wave of right-wing backlash needs to be met with a fightback movement that can both defend the rights that have been won through struggle, and directly challenge the ruling class in order to win all of the rights and freedoms that all women and LGBTQ people deserve.
Beth Massey of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, who has been organizing for women’s liberation for over 50 years, stressed the urgency of organizing to defend the right to abortion, stating, “If we aren’t out in the streets fighting, then we aren’t going to be able to keep these rights. That’s the way you keep the rights! You never let them have a moment to try to take it back!”
As the powerful slogan of the women’s movement goes, we won’t go back! We will fight back!