By Rachel Foster
People across the country this week, including large numbers of women, protested in defense of abortion rights and in opposition to anti-abortion bills being advanced in many states. While most of these actions were organized by the imperialist Democratic Party and liberal non-governmental organizations under the ‘Women’s March’ banner, promoting reformism and electoralism, small actions in Pittsburgh and Kansas City went beyond the legalism and pacifism demanded by the ruling class.
In Kansas City, Missouri, several hundred people attended a Rally for Abortion Justice in Mill Creek Park last Saturday as part of the national Women’s March.
Missouri passed an eight-week abortion ban in 2019, which is currently being challenged in court, and a new six-week ban is currently being advanced in legislature. Abortion services are already inaccessible to the majority of women in Missouri with the only open abortion center being in St. Louis.
Local activists as well as local representatives and legislators within the government gave speeches, but by the time many speeches had ended, numbers had dwindled to about 100 people. Although the march started on the sidewalk with little energy, when several protesters with signs walked onto the street and encouraged the crowd to follow them, the march’s energy picked up and the crowd took the street.
As the march was coming to a close, several attendees called for the crowd to block the intersection in front of Mill Creek Park. When this happened, a man in a green van honked and pushed into the crowd with his car. He then reversed and appeared to be about to accelerate into the march when the crowd fought back against his intimidation.
In downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday, several hundred people attended another Women’s March for abortion rights. A six-week abortion ban has been proposed in Pennsylvania.
While the crowd grew inattentive during the speeches by Democratic Party-affiliated leaders including local congressman Mike Doyle, it expressed its energy and anger once the march took the streets.
Several protesters from the crowd verbally and physically confronted a reactionary who antagonized the crowd by shouting anti-abortion conspiracy theories. Protesters surrounded him, shouting him down and pushing him. One attendee noted: “Over there politicians are saying the same stuff they always say, it’s not that interesting. This is what’s important, what I like to see. Women taking action and confronting him.”
After the official march had ended, about a few dozen of the more combative attendees were led by women activists to continue the march without permits or police escort. A revolutionary woman activist connected the struggle for abortion rights to the general struggle for women’s emancipation and socialist revolution and led the crowd in chants of “One solution, revolution!” and “Working women give them hell, it is right to rebel!”
The previous Wednesday a group of University of Pittsburgh students and local activists protested against the Women’s Choice Network crisis pregnancy center (CPC), which was tabling at a health fair on campus. The protest was held across a busy intersection from the health fair.
CPCs like Women’s Choice Network are generally funded by fundamentalist religious organizations and are not medically licensed. They pose as abortion clinics and pregnancy resource centers in order to deceive women and divert them from accessing abortion services.
Protesters held a banner reading “Fake abortion clinics are an attack on working women,” and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, these CPCs have got to go!” One speaker stated that it is easier for CPCs to get state funding in Pittsburgh than it is for actual abortion clinics, and connected the struggle against CPCs to the struggle against anti-abortion bills. Another argued that abortion rights are not only a women’s issue, but one that affects working class communities as a whole. After the protest ended, a small number of protesters confronted the CPC directly at their table in the health fair.
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