Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop Patriarchy protester: Don’t give up the fight for abortion rights

[Originally published in The Daily Texan]
By Adrienne Luendo

My name is Adrienne Luendo — I am a 23-year-old recent college graduate. More than that, I am an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider and was one of the five people arrested outside of the UT Austin campus on Aug. 27.

I protested because I feel responsible to act on what I know to be true. The closure of abortion clinics nationwide must be stopped because without the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child, women cannot be free. This responsibility is heavy, but it is not without great joy and honor to be part of something worth living and fighting for. I protested because I’m angry that college students are being silenced when campuses should be teeming with debate and dissent. This is our future, and we can do better than standing on the sidelines. I wanted to challenge students, to show that young people have the ability and responsibility to change the trajectory of history, and that means putting our bodies on the line.

On Friday, Aug. 29, just two days after our protest and arrest, Judge Lee Yeakel blocked — for now — the round of clinic closures that had been scheduled to take place across Texas on Sept. 1. This is great! However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has already appealed this ruling and a hearing is set for Sept. 12 in New Orleans. In addition, over half of Texas’ abortion clinics already have been closed for the past two years, part of a dangerous pattern nationwide.

Everyone needs to know about this and needs to be part of the fight to change the way people think, talk, and act about abortion. “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” is what Stop Patriarchy says. Abortion is the first word in the slogan. It’s not an afterthought, not a statement that abortion should be “rare.”  It creates the possibility of conversations about why abortion should be unrestricted and spoken about without taboo, shame or stigma.  Students are leaders, the future of this world and need to be speaking about abortion on those terms!

Some students were deeply inspired by our action on Guadalupe Street because they had never seen or been part of a protest.  We sounded the alarm about the abortion rights emergency here in the U.S. and abroad — chanting facts, stories and questions.  We wore all white and had blood stains on our pants to bring to life the reality that when abortion was illegal, 5,000 women per year died from botched abortions, and currently 47,000 women die each year globally from botched abortions.

“When was the last time someone told you to yell about women’s rights? It feels good to stand up for the lives of women,” Sunsara Taylor, initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women, yelled out to students. This is so true! Students and young people have grown up in a culture where talk about abortion is silenced because it’s controversial.  But there should be nothing controversial about a woman making the decision of when and whether she will become a mother.  It is immoral to force her into motherhood against her will.

Going to jail was an awful experience.  We were treated as less than human, our prints taken, and were constantly searched and groped.  I thought of the women who have to drive hours to the nearest clinic, scrape up money and often childcare, of women who inject themselves with birth control before crossing the border because they know there is a likelihood of rape while traveling, of the lives stolen by illegal and botched abortions, the countless stories of foreclosed lives. I stood for them and it was worth it!

Some students and drivers were angry because of the disruption to their lives. But that’s just a small dose of what it’d be like to be a woman without access to reproductive care. I call on students to stand up for women’s lives. If you don’t want to see the women of the world enslaved to their reproductive system, if you’re angry that some politicians will not stop until abortion is abolished, if you are tired of being silenced, if someone you love had an abortion, join up with Listen to women’s stories. Tell your own. Start a chapter where you live. Because if you understand that forcing women into motherhood against their will is immoral and wrong, it’s up to you to do something about it.

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