Protesting an anti-choice march in SF

January 29, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO--The Bay Area Coalition for Reproductive mobilized a counter-protest against the California Catholic Archdiocese's annual "Walk for Life" on January 23.

Though outnumbered by the thousands of anti-choice protesters bussed in for the event, the spirited crowd of a hundred or so pro-abortion rights demonstrators endured the rain and cold to show that San Francisco won't let the so-called "pro-lifers" come to town without a response.

This year's demonstration is the sixth year in row that San Francisco has had to put up with an invasion of hypocrisy and bigotry on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country. Gone is the era when such an event would have been considered unthinkable in this pro-choice city.

Before the counter-protest, a variety of speakers from Bay Area organizations spoke about the need to defend reproductive rights. Among the groups represented were West Coast Feminist Health, the Haiti Action Committee, Los Angeles Radical Women, World Can't Wait and the International Socialist Organization.

"Any rights that are under attack we should fight for," said Flick, a member of the LGBT equality group One Struggle One Fight. "We're here to show unity and solidarity for women and anyone fighting for abortion rights."

In a twisted attempts to appropriate phrases and symbols of left movements of the past, especially the civil rights movement, the anti-choice side began singing the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." But what they want to overcome is a woman's right to control her own body.

During the march, pro-choice protesters chanted to the rhythm of a brass band, including "Walk for life, your name's a lie, you don't care if women die." This got the attention of the anti-choice mob as they passed.

This year's event took place in a context not just of right-wing advances in organizing but further attacks on abortion rights in Congress. Democrats in Congress, including California liberals like Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, voted for health care legislation even the retrograde Stupak Amendment, barring any health insurance policy that covers abortions from the government-sponsored insurance exchange, was added to it. Rather than causing a revolt of pro-choice Democrats, the amendment was passed with their help.

Laura, who described herself as a radical feminist, said she was "frustrated that since the '70s, women have had to continue to struggle to maintain their reproductive rights." That struggle is made more difficult by Democrats who cave on a woman's right to choose.

In California and nationally, everyone who values reproductive rights should declare that we won't take another step backward--that we will organize a movement to force the "Walk for Lifers" to retreat.

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