The Southern New Hampshire branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation held a protest in Keene, New Hampshire, on July 10 to defend abortion rights and demand more from local legislators.
The action started in Railroad Square where protestors gathered to the sound of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and the classic “Solidarity Forever.” Soon demonstrators had taken the median of the main road in Keene with placards, flags and a megaphone.
PSL member Ana Maria Branden fired up the crowd with chants that echoed through the center of the sleepy small town: “What do we want? Abortion rights! When do we want them? Now! Two, four, six, eight, separate the church and state! When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do? FIGHT BACK!” The slogans were met with approval from passing pedestrians and drivers who honked their horns.
About 50 people gathered to hear speakers. The event was emceed by Keene native and PSL member Joy Robertson, who said: “We aren’t going to sit around waiting for the Democrats to twiddle their thumbs and pass legislation. Or for the far right, the fascists, to enact their horrid vision of theocratic, white supremacist, patriarchal, exterminationist, settler colonial capitalism that combines all the endless crimes of this country into an unspeakable finale. No! We’re going to stay in the streets! We are going to organize! We are going to make them listen to us!”
Branden took the mic again. Socialist Cuba, she said, “has a lower infant mortality rate, a lower maternal mortality rate, a higher rate of hospital beds per people and a higher rate of physicians per people than the U.S. even though Cuba has been under a suffocating illegal blockade for over sixty years. In Cuba, abortion is available for free on demand. Not only is the right to abortion guaranteed, but the right to be a parent is also guaranteed, because pre- and post-natal care is free. In the United States, we are guaranteed only 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. You never hear the so-called pro-life crowd demanding free healthcare and parental leave. Meanwhile, in Cuba parental leave for an entire year is guaranteed and paid in full.”
Protesters shared their stories with one another, reflecting on what is at stake. Reproductive rights organizer Steph George voiced these immediate demands:
- Legalize abortion at all stages of pregnancy in the New Hampshire state constitution. No mention of viability. Use language of women and pregnant people.
- Repeal parental consent law.
- Mandate state medical coverage.
- Restore state funding to clinics that provide abortions.
- Restore buffer zones and increase them from 25 to 50 feet.
- Refuse to cooperate with out-of-state officials seeking to prosecute those seeking an abortion in the state of New Hampshire.
PSL member Mandy L. concluded the demonstration with a call to action:
“Now is the time to think about joining an organization, for we are only so strong as individuals. But a united working-class moving in a coordinated effort can truly strike fear in the hearts of the ruling class and those in the halls of power. The working class showed its power in the early 70s when fighting for Roe under even more conservative and repressive circumstances than we find ourselves now. If they could do it then, we can do it again!
“We will shake the foundations of the illegitimate institutions like the Supreme Court, which must be abolished. Politicians will not concede to our progressive demands without an organized grassroots movement of people applying pressure on them. Voting alone is not enough. Coming out to one march a year is not enough. We will only win through a protracted, collective, working-class struggle.”