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International Women’s Day actions defend abortion rights

As the right to abortion is currently under the most intense, unprecedented attack that the United States has seen in decades and women face the possible stripping away of essential rights, socialist feminists in the Party for Socialism and Liberation mobilized to defend abortion rights to mark International Women’s Day March 4-12. From cities large and small, here are reports of the actions.

On March 4, members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Springfield, Missouri, joined with Democratic Socialists of the Ozarks to demonstrate in downtown Springfield at Park Central Square. The date was chosen both to coincide with the weekend of International Working Women’s Day, but also the monthly First Friday Art Walk that takes place downtown, which leads to increased visibility and traffic. 

Springfield, Missouri. Liberation photo

Along with Democratic Socialists of the Ozarks, PSL members were joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood who were out collecting signatures of support for their mission, as well as having a volunteer sign up sheet. 

The response from passers by was overwhelmingly positive with many opportunities for conversation and engagement with the people of Springfield. 

PSL Carolinas hosted a speakout at the corners of Hargett and Wilmington Streets in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 4. Members spoke about the need to legalize abortion — a human right — advocated passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, as well as the role of U.S. imperialism in impacting women across the globe, including Palestinian women. Many fliers for the upcoming documentary screening of “Jane: An Abortion Service” were shared. 

Los Angeles PSL members hosted  a rally at Grand Park in Downtown LA on March 5 as a crowd of around 80 to 90 community members gathered to defend abortion rights and lift up the international struggle for working women’s liberation. Speakers on the program discussed the legacy of International Working Women’s Day, the urgency of the struggle to defend the precedent of Roe v. Wade, and the necessity to build a mass movement demanding legalized abortion and reproductive justice. Speakers touched on the importance of universal healthcare in the reproductive justice framework, the history of forced sterilization of immigrant and oppressed women in LA hospitals, and tying it all into the fight to end violence against women, recognizing that poor and working-class women often face severe violence under the patriarchal capitalist system. Our broad coalition amplified the struggle to an international scale as we acknowledged the power of global movements led by women for liberation.

Endorsing organizations and speakers included Gabriela LA, KmB/Pro-People’s Youth, BLM Pasadena, Community Control Over Police, Healthcare for All – Los Angeles, and ANSWER Coalition – Los Angeles. 

On March 5, PSL organizers in New York City held two speak outs in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The two demonstrations were both held across the street from crisis pregnancy centers and emphasized the urgent need to protect reproductive rights. PSL members spoke on the misleading nature of these crisis pregnancy centers, the consequences of right-wing abortion bans, and connected the foundation of women’s oppression and oppression of trans and gender-nonconforming people to capitalism.

Organizers from the Uptown Manhattan and the Bronx branches of PSL coordinated a speak out in the Bronx in front of around 30 people. 

PSL members engaging in outreach found that passersby were generally supportive of the right to abortion and reproductive autonomy. Some women shared that they had received abortion services after having children, a well-documented fact that highlights the complexity of the abortion experience. 

Activists pointed out that attaining reproductive justice requires a completely different system from the one we currently have.

“When women are the ones shouldering the majority of childcare work on top of our paid work, this is an issue of reproductive justice!” exclaimed Karla Reyes, an organizer with the PSL. “When Black mothers have to worry about whether or not their sons will come home that day, that’s an issue of reproductive justice! When childcare costs almost as much as rent, that’s an issue of reproductive justice! When unemployment benefits get slashed or food stamps get cut, that’s an issue of reproductive justice!”

Meanwhile, around 20 people gathered for a speak out in downtown Brooklyn, organized by the Queens and Brooklyn branches of PSL. In addition to outreach, PSL members set up a photo booth where pedestrians could take photos holding signs in support of reproductive rights.

Organizers pointed out the urgency of a militant working-class movement to confront the attacks on reproductive rights.

Brooklyn, NY. Liberation photo

“2021 was the worst year for abortion rights in half a century,” PSL organizer Amanda Yee reminded the crowd. “In 2021 alone, 108 abortion restrictions were enacted in 19 states … Just last week, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have enshrined the right to abortion across the country … We can fight back against these reactionary forces, but only through unified, coordinated struggle!”

Members of Seattle PSL and Radical Women held a short rally on March 5 in Seattle’s Greenlake Park. Speakers included Muffe Sunde of Radical Women, who spoke on the history of International Women’s Day. Devyn Forschmiedt of PSL spoke from their personal experience as a preschool teacher, a job primarily held by women. They explained how reproductive freedom means more than abortion, and also must include enabling parents to care for their children. Forschmiedt also linked the struggle for legal abortion to the struggle for transgender rights.

After the rally, participants walked along the inner loop of the park around the lake, chanting: “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide.” They stopped along Greenlake Way to stand in the median strip and held signs. Both in the park and on the median strip they were well recieved with many honks and expressions of gratitude heard. 

Seattle. Liberation photo

An IWD rally was held outside the Dallas County Courthouse on March 5. Passerbys stopped or listened from across the street. Valerie spoke about working-class women fighting against the capitalist class. More specifically, in regards to the pandemic, where women lost the most jobs, and the continued fight for abortion rights under the threat of overturning Roe v. Wade. Tania spoke about the teachers’ struggle in Puerto Rico, comprised mainly of women. Teachers are under the threat of job loss and wage reductions due to U.S. imperialist policies in Puerto Rico, including creating an unelected oversight board that is responsible for this attack on working women’s jobs. Finally, Scott spoke about the anti-trans laws in Texas and how trans women and children are being purposely targeted and scapegoated. To finish the rally, participants walked around the surrounding blocks and distributed literature about IWD and smashing the capitalist class.

Dallas. Liberation photo

On March 5, in honor of International Women’s Day, members of the PSL Central Gulf Coast organized a rally in collaboration with Pensacola DSA and Pensacola Dream Defenders. Representatives from PSL, Pensacola DSA, Poor People’s Campaign and Pensacola Dream Defenders discussed the intersections of women’s oppression including abortion rights, Florida’s attack on race-related and LGBTQ history in schools and the need for a new, more just society. 

Approximately 50 people attended the rally in downtown Pensacola. The rally ended with chants of “We won’t go back, we will fight back” and a call to action to join the fight for women’s reproductive rights. 

Pensacola, Florida. Liberation photo

On March 8, PSL Chicago participated in a march initiated by Chicago for Abortion Rights. More than 300 people showed up to march down Halsted Street in the historic LGBTQ neighborhood Northalsted (formerly known as Boystown) in support of reproductive rights and the struggle against sexism, homophobia and gender discrimination. Various organizations were in attendance, including Chicago NOW, Code PINK, Clinic Vest Project, Gay Liberation Network, Illinois Single-Payer Coalition, Pride Without Prejudice, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Radical Women U.S. and Refuse Fascism. 

Reproductive Transparency Now, which PSL Chicago is in a working coalition with to raise awareness for crisis pregnancy centers, was also in attendance. Organizer Lisa Battisfore, the founder of RTN, spoke to Liberation News and stressed the importance of organizing in the streets at this time. “We could be looking at as early as June [for] losing Roe v. Wade — that is going to put millions of people at risk, and too many don’t even realize what’s going on.” 

Speaking amid roaring applause and cheering, PSL organizer Meredith Miklasz quoted fellow organizer, Ana Santoyo, and her recent Breaking the Chains article: “It is our duty to stop the lies and stigma about abortion, organize for full reproductive health care for all, and continue to open the doors for women to militantly persist in struggle and ultimately win abortion once and for all.” 

Chicago. Liberation photo

On March 5 in Boston, two dozen community members gathered at Nubian Square in the heart of Roxbury to celebrate International Women’s Day and to demand the right to abortion for all working and oppressed women. Speakers from the PSL and other community organizations denounced the decades-long right-wing attack on women’s right to abortion and condemned the failure of the Democrats to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. 

“The Democrats have used abortion and reproductive rights to bring out voters, but have done little to actually defend the right to access abortion,” said PSL member Cat Yoder, who spoke to the necessity of the WHPA for women across the country. 

Prema Bangera exposed the war on reproductive rights in Boston. Despite the veneer of being a progressive haven, Boston is the home of several fake “abortion clinics.” “They pray on people in crisis and without funds or insurance and seeking abortions only to convince their clients to keep their pregnancy to full term with false promises of support after childbirth,” Bangera said. 

Yesenia Mejia concluded the speak out with a call to rebuild a mass movement to defend the right to abortion. “The struggle for abortion rights has a long history in the United States, and it will not end without solidarity with ALL working-class and oppressed women. It won’t end without a mass movement for women’s liberation!” 

Boston. Liberation photo

On March 5, the Milwaukee branch of PSL brought out the community in support of reproductive rights. From Lynden Hill Park, PSL’s Milwaukee branch hosted a public event to raise awareness on how the struggles over reproductive rights will affect access to abortion, contraception, and healthcare for women and transgender, queer and non-binary people in Wisconsin and around the country. The event combined political education, art, food, and community as it featured speeches, a literature booth, a communal art build, and an open mic for the community to voice their thoughts.

“We can build a movement to fight and win what we all deserve … free universal healthcare, unrestricted access to abortion, and free universal childcare … Roe is the floor and not the ceiling,” said PSL member Samantha on the necessity for a reproductive rights movement that will fight for more than the bare minimum. Echoing the need for a movement of people dedicated to struggling for reproductive rights, Hayden implored, “People who can get pregnant need more than cheerleaders on the sidelines. We need comrades. We need people who fight with us!”

Milwaukee. Liberation photo

In response to Ohio’s increasing abortion-access restrictions, the Miami Valley, Ohio, chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation joined forces with Planned Parenthood to defend reproductive health and women’s rights for the International Women’s Day of Action. The rally took place at the Montgomery County Courthouse in downtown Dayton at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.

Several PSL members gave speeches in addition to Taren Holliman, a member of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. PSL members handed out copies of Liberation News along with general PSL flyers and brochures. The event organizers also collected abortion aftercare items, such as menstrual pads and cups, get-well cards, fuzzy socks and other needed products. The event was well-attended and received numerous supportive honks by passersby.

Taylor Albright, from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, led the crowd into various chants, including: “O-H-I-O! These abortion bans have got to go!” PSL member Jasmine echoed a similar sentiment in her speech: “We need to go even further than Roe v. Wade. We need free healthcare for all, including free abortion on-demand.”

On Sunday, March 6, PSL Atlanta organizers held a speak out in Findlay Plaza of Little Five Points for International Women’s Day. Speakers included organizers from Amplify Georgia, a group that seeks to protect and expand abortion access across the state, and Community EsTr(El-La), a collective that fights for the rights of trans and queer Latinos.

A common thread woven across all speeches was the need for a militant mass movement dedicated to defending and expanding access to abortion in the struggle for women’s rights, as well as reproductive justice for all. Speakers highlighted the decisive leadership roles women have played in the fight for Black liberation and labor struggles throughout southern history. One speaker from IATSE connected Amazon workers’ push for unionization in Alabama to the struggle to unionize hair and makeup workers at the Atlanta Opera — initiatives driven by majority women. Speakers called for solidarity in the struggle for the rights of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and the need for the abolition of NATO and an end to US imperialism worldwide — all of which are instrumental in ensuring the true liberation of all women. 

In addition to the speeches, attendees participated in group chants and collected signatures for a petition demanding local officials reject Georgia legislation seeking to further restrict abortion access. Many members of the community stopped to listen and engage throughout the course of the afternoon, and joined in chants such as, “My body, my choice!” and “Pro-life? That’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!”

Atlanta. Liberation photo

PSL members and a small group of supporters gathered on a busy streetcorner in Gresham, Oregon just outside Portland on March 6 with a banner and signs demanding the legalization of abortion once and for all. Speakers in the lineup discussed historical events in the international women’s movement, including the 1909 garment workers strike, the German socialist women’s movement and the founding of International Women’s Day.

Speakers also analyzed the role of the Supreme Court in attacking women’s rights and called for the abolition of the court. Speakers challenged the “pro-life” right-wing talking points and explained that capitalism itself can never be pro-life while it forces millions to live in poverty. Speakers also explained how lack of access to safe, legal abortion on demand impoverishes the multinational working class by targeting poor women, mostly women of color and immigrant women. Speakers explained the need for a militant revolutionary women’s movement in the United States to defend all women’s rights, especially the explicit right to legal abortion and all other reproductive care. Onlookers, people in cars driving by, and pedestrians cheered, honked, joined in our chants and took photos. 

Gresham, Oregon. Liberation photo

On March 8, organizers, activists, and community members in Pittsburgh gathered together to celebrate International Working Women’s Day and defend abortion rights against any and all attacks.

“There’s a lot of history around International Women’s Day, or International Working Women’s Day,” said Stephanie Pavlick, 26, who is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and was one of the speakers at the event. “It’s been around for 150 years, and it has socialist roots. … It brings us to where we are now, still fighting for full reproductive care rights.”

“These are direct attacks on reproductive autonomy with the greatest impact on working-class women, women of color and trans people,” Kit Baril, an organizer with ANSWER, said in their opening remarks.

On March 8, a beautiful day in San Francisco, PSL members and supporters held a rally to celebrate the fierce feminist struggles of the past and to demand the immediate national legalization of abortions. Organizer Gloria La Riva explained, “We face double the exploitation as women and as workers. We still can’t get equal pay, even though women have to raise their children often alone. We still don’t have rights to abortion! We had it, right? But then Texas says you can’t have an abortion after six weeks.” La Riva and other speakers put forth socialism as the only road to women’s liberation from the oppression of patriarchal capitalism.

San Francisco. Liberation photo

On March 12, San Antonio had its 31st International Women’s Day March under the banner “No Nos Moverán” with about 200 in attendance. Event organizers belong to a collective, Mujeres Marcharan, which organizes the march annually.  

Organizations present included Party for Socialism and Liberation, Autonomous Brown Berets de San Anto, Fuerza Unida — who are one of the original founders of march — Domesticas Unidas, Asian American Pacific Islanders for Justice, Veterans for Peace and Withoutus Strike. Speakers spoke about defending abortion against SB8, self determination and actualization for trans youth and the community as a whole, given recent attacks labeling gender affirming care as ‘child abuse.’ The program also featured issues of housing as a human right, police accountability and reform, the Melissa Lucio unjust pending execution, a Domestic Labor Bill of Rights, the need for a free and quality public health care system, and included a performance by Jules Vaquera, singing a song written specifically for the event. 

As is the tradition with Mujeres Marcharan, security for the march was provided by an all-woman team of Peace Keepers. The marchers took the streets, passing by various points of oppression. This connected issues of labor rights, the struggle against racism, sustainable and free utilities as a human right, demands for dignified housing for all, and denouncing militarization. This demonstration of solidarity across many intersections of oppression illustrates the need for a new system which puts human and ecological life over profit. 

PSL San DIego hosted an International Working Women’s Day community gathering at Balboa Park on March 12. Peace and Freedom Party San Diego, San Diego Socialist Alternative, Socialist Unity Party, San Diego Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, socialist congressional candidate Jose Cortes and a couple dozen community members joined in.

Reem Zubaidi, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, posed to an energized crowd, “We may have won the right to be seen as equals under the law, or the right to vote or to become CEOs, but what does all this mean when women in this country are still disproportionately impacted by houselessness? We still face sexism and gender-based violence in the workplace and at home. We’re still being told what we can and can’t do with our own bodies. We’re still paid less than the white man for the same jobs.”

PSL in Provo,Utah hosted a small gathering that yielded a strong and positive reaction from people passing by. Organizers were able to hand out a lot of materials, including to passing cars. Speeches focused on the need to understand how common abortions are, and how access to abortions is essential and needs to be defended. 

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