Why I am a Clinic Defender and why YOU should become one, too!

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I am a regular participant in the pro-choice defence of the Fertility Control Clinic against anti-choice bigots. You may wonder why, as a male, I feel so strongly in attending. There are multiple factors influencing me.

My first encounter with these fanatics was during the rally for abortion rights on October 13 last year. This rally celebrated the legalisation of abortion in Victoria on October 10, 2008. It also challenged a coalition of anti-choice demonstrators who call themselves “March for the Babies.” Their goal is to recriminalise abortion!

These misogynist bigots disgusted me. In particular, the way they compared abortion to slavery before singing Amazing Grace and calling for men to look after their women, in a fashion, which could only be construed as ownership. There is a form of domestic slavery right there!

At this time, I was attending a discussion group organised by Radical Women on Frederick Engels’ classic work, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. This discussion group allowed me to explore and further understand how women’s oppression relates to queer oppression.

My rally experience, combined with learning more about sexism, encouraged me to attend the regular clinic defences. My passion was further fuelled by my outrage towards rightwing religious fundamentalists trying to force their so-called so-called morality onto women. Their “morality” also defines gay men, such as myself, as sexually deviant. These hypocrites only have to look into their clergy to find true sexual deviants!

Being queer strongly influences me to defend the Fertility Control Clinic. The right wing and religious fundamentalists oppose marriage equality and queers adopting children, which confronts their ideals of the patriarchal nuclear family. They expect a woman to devote herself to the kitchen, church and children. With both having a common source, I stand fervently to end the intertwined oppression of sexism and queerphobia.

Another Saturday at the clinic. I’d like to share some of the things I have experienced while defending the clinic. I set off early, grab my coffee and arrive at the Fertility Control Clinic about 9:15 to be ready for our 9:30 start. I talk to the clinic security guard and the Friends of the Fertility Control Clinic assisting him.

The anti-choice zealots are already there. They have been there since 7:30 am. One of them is pacing up and down the street and opening up a wooden box of clay foetuses to display as people walk past. The rest of them have their rosaries, are praying and handing out their “pro-life” propaganda pamphlets. A priest then arrives with a wooden cross, which he places on the ground in front of them.

The Radical Women crew arrive and I assist with the placards and banner. We have enough people to hold up the Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights banner declaring “Free Abortion on Demand Now!” A member of our pro-choice contingent holds the large and very popular “Honk If UR Pro-Choice” placard. This invites the pro-choice majority to get involved. We receive many honks from motorists, dings from cyclists and the occasional bell from a passing tram.

The bigots sing and chant their prayers, but we drown them out with chanting of our own. One of them takes a photo every time a person leaves the Fertility Control Clinic. An elderly man approaches our side, saying “You’re murderers, you’re murderers” whilst another photographs us, hoping to provoke us. Undeterred, we just chant louder!

A taxi pulls up outside the clinic right near the anti-bigots. The clinic security guard then assists a woman holding a child, and a man accompanying her, and we all work to prevent the mob of bigots from harassing them.

It’s now 10:30 and the bigots decide to pack up and leave. As they head to their cars parked across the road, we chant, “Hey hey, ho ho. Religious bigots have got to go!” One of them takes more photos of us whilst we chant. Their aim is to intimidate us, as they do with people using the services at the clinic. They fail! They’ve packed up an hour earlier than the week prior, which is a good sign. We’re jubilant. We also know that the fight to permanently secure full reproductive freedom requires the eradication of sexism. The bigots will probably be back next week, but so will we—with the goal of building a movement that removes them entirely.

Become a defender! I am a clinic defender because I am against people being harassed and intimidated for seeking any form of healthcare. Services pertaining to fertility control and sexual health should be free and readily accessible. I strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose and for everyone to have control over his or her own body.

We need to continue to build the regular defence of the Fertility Control Clinic and the broader movement for full reproductive freedom. Like me, you too have a stake in the fight to put an end to this harassment and intimidation from these rightwing religious fundamentalists.

Join the struggle, defend the Fertility Control Clinic: “Women, Workers, Queers unite. Fight back against the Right!”

Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights is a multi-gendered united front of grassroots organisations and individual activists that fights for reproductive rights for all women. CWRR organises the regular defence of the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne. Get in touch with CWRR: Phone 03-9388-0062, Email cwrr.justice@hotmail.com or via Facebook & Twitter CWRRMelbourne

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