Fight the Right! Stand Up for Choice!
September 26, 2009
Activists, students, women and men organized to defend a major Family Planning Clinic in the heart of Los Angeles this week against the anti-abortion group 40 Days for Life. 40 Days for Life is a national campaign targeting abortion clinics across the country for 40 consecutive days in an attempt to stop working class women from receiving the health care and abortion services they need. Women’s rights advocates, on the other hand, had another plan in store for them. Counter-protesters, following the bigots' plans online, organized at the busy Los Angeles clinic at the crack of dawn in order to protect it, providing escort services and safe passage to the many women visiting the health center throughout the day. On Wednesday, the first day of the action, counter-protesters outnumbered the bigots on ratio of about 2-1 (16 pro-choice; 8 bigots), forcing them to pack up their rosaries and bibles early and preventing them from stopping women's access to the clinic. According to employees of the clinic, their center has been targeted on a daily basis by these very same bigots and that they sometimes have up to 70 anti-choice bigots harassing patients and employees regularly on Saturdays. Clinic security often is forced to phone the police because anti-choice bigots physically try to block women from entering the clinic and assault patients. As one woman expressed, "Finally you've come! These people are here every day that I come to work and it's so frustrating to see them here with no one to stand up to them. I hope you will be here more often."
Women are truly forced to "walk the gauntlet" in such an environment. The following Saturday, anti-choice bigots turned out in greater numbers (reaching 30 at their peak) than earlier in the week and were more aggressive in their actions. Neo-nazis and anti-immigrant members of the minutemen were among the anti-choice side. They brought disgusting posters of bloody fetuses and a crucifix on a 7 foot pole. They handed out pamphlets filled with medically unsound advice like “birth control is an abortion” or “having an abortion causes breast cancer”. They also passed out flyers that aim to redirect women towards their bogus clinics which pretend to offer “pregnancy counseling” but really only frighten vulnerable women into believing that abortion is immoral. Often, before women could get out of their cars, they would try to surround the vehicle with these kinds of pamphlets, disinformation and proselytizing.
For a short while, anti-choicers outnumbered the pro-choice side. However, through and extra push of grassroots efforts via the Internet and phone calls, organizers were able to eventually outnumber the bigots. Forming a line with their bodies and posters, pro-choice activists drowned out the bigots with chants like: Whose Choice? Women's Choice and "Pro-life"? You're name's a lie! You don't care if women die! Organizers from the grassroots group 40days4choice.com provided clinic escort services to usher women safely to the clinic and their cars. After hours of struggle and through 90 degree heat the pro-choice side was successful and again sent the anti-abortion side packing.
Activists vowed to continue to protect the clinic; however the need for a new woman's rights movement was evident all day long. It was also made clear to many present that women's health care-and abortion rights in particular-must be included in the larger struggle for health care overall. The fact that abortion service centers are isolated outside of the mainstream medical community makes them more vulnerable to such attacks. One woman who was involved in clinic defenses 20 years ago somberly said "I can't believe we are back here again, fighting for the basic right to an abortion."
To get more involved in defending this and other clinics please contact:
Los Angeles International Socialist Organization (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=68657672065
) and 40 Days 4 Choice : http://40days4choice.com/
Future Actions in Los Angeles:
Save the Date!
When: Saturdays October 3 and October 10
Starting at 7am
Activists will continue defending this clinic against anti-choice bigots. Join us!
Family Planning Associates
601 S. Westmoreland Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90005
(Near Wilshire and Vermont)