Feminists nationwide will rally during Abortion Rights Action Week on October 21-28 to launch a counteroffensive against a terroristic antiabortion campaign that resorts to firebombing, break-ins, and assaults.
The anti-abortionists are the same familiar conglomerate of well-financed, rightwing Bible-beaters who hate gays, the ERA, labor unions, radicals, welfare mothers, and people of color. Many oppose contraception.
Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Right-to-Life forces have used hysteria-producing computerized mailings to swell their ranks. 60,000 marched in Washington, D.C. last January 22, the anniversary of the Court decision.
Their most damaging victory to date is the 1977 Hyde Amendment which prevents use of federal money for abortions, thereby ending abortion rights for poor women in all but 8 states. And their latest campaign is for “fetus rights” — outlawing abortion through a constitutional amendment already ratified by 14 states.
Popular approval of abortion rights increased from 53% to 60% last year, but the minority makes the noise.
Dining with the enemy
Awed by the power of antiabortionists, NOW’s president Eleanor Smeal invited the Right-to-Lifers to a “peace” meeting in February. She and other conciliators discussed reproductive rights with anti-abortion “feminists” — and never mentioned abortion. The meeting was disrupted by extremists displaying pickled fetuses.
Smeal’s treachery in accommodating the anti-abortionists brought sharp criticism from the National Women’s Health Network and the formation of Reproductive Rights National Network (R2N2) in Chicago and the Abortion Rights Movement (ARM) in Washington, D.C.
This in turn spurred International Women’s Day demonstrations in March centered on the abortion issue. The largest was organized in Olympia, Washington by a coalition representing gays, feminists, labor, radicals, and women of color.
R2N2 brought 1500 women to demonstrate against the National Right-to-Life Convention in Cincinnati on June 23, and on June 26 they delivered 22,000 signatures to Congress petitioning for no Medicaid restrictions on abortions. The answer of the House of Representatives was to forbid Medicaid abortions even in cases of rape, incest, or potential health damage.
Rosie Jimenez, martyr
The Hyde Amendment in effect denies abortions only to impoverished women, many of them people of color. The only options left are sterilization or back-alley butchery.
An illegal abortionist killed Rosie Jimenez, 27, who was trying to rear a child and attend school on $86 a month from welfare and a part-time job.
The response of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) is the creation of a Jimenez fund to replace Medicaid money for abortions, which graciously relieves Congress of the burden of supplying the needed 40 to 50 million dollars a year!
Jimenez’ death demands an angry world outcry and the routing of the deadly Right-to-Lifers so that women may control their own bodies and their own minds.
Lynda Schraufnagel is a waitress, a unionist and an activist with Radical Women.