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Pro-Choice Counter Protest To Anti-Abortion “Walk For Life”
On Saturday January 25th, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade thousands of anti-abortion activists converged on the Civic Center for their annual rally for “life” and, more to the point, to outlaw and criminalize all abortion in the U.S. A march unopposed through Market Street and around the city perimeter was again met with loud, forceful demonstrators countering the message with pro-choice slogans and messages. Hear in three parts roadside audio from confrontation. (4 minutes)
While “Walk” seemed to bus in significantly less people that the escalation in 2013, the rally and numbers were way too large (maybe 5,000?). A combination of preacher drivel; heartfelt individual testimonials from women describing long-term, inner regret over their past abortion; illogical logic and basic biological tidbits of fetal development put into arbitrary contexts “proving” abortion as murder as if proven “fact”; sneering, sarcastic “liberal-bashing”, sounding like “shock-jock” rhetoric right off the likes of Fox Network news; updates on a movement (unfortunately) using a combination of strong church-based organizing principles, big money lobbying, unprincipled coercion (“sidewalk counseling” to them) around and towards women entering abortion clinics; intimidation and threats to clinics and providers; and effective religious recruitment; and obviously distorted descriptions of Planned Parenthood as coercing women to have the abortion and providing abortions under purposely substandard medical conditions. Painful stuff to listen to, to me mostly because the anti-abortion movement is working very effectively and possibly escalating in size and scope.
“Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” was a main counter protest rallying cry. Thousands of local pro-choice activists had been actively involved in recent weeks, countering banners hung up and down Market St. reading “Abortion Hurts Women”. Many others, such as “When Women Are Under Attack, What Do We Do, stand up fight back” described the pro-choice stances, while Walk marchers continue to ridicule pro-choicers as supporters of state sanctioned murder.
An activist I talked to before the counterdemonstrator, described what she heard on a KPFA talk show that AM which describes what I believe to be misinformation and poor political strategizing that many anti-capitalist pro-choice counterdemonstrator disagree with. The commentator urged listeners NOT to bother to meet the religious right on the streets. She, as with centrist propagandists in the likes of the Chronicle and Examiner and more centrist pro-choice people in recent years. She described this movement as basically fringe, irrelevant, and worth ignoring on both sides. That argument basically assets the basic claims that both the “religious right” and the left-wing activist groups that meet them head-on are mostly misguided and not worth anyone else’s time. The Walk was characterized as all out of towners just there for the day for trivial purposes, ignoring the reality that many people in the Bay Area are anti-choice, both participating and targets for recruitment.
2013 is described as a record year (or second worst to 2011, depending what is printed) for anti-abortion legislative activity. Most continues to be at the State level, centered nationally around “indirect” interferences such as forced bureaucratic delays in procedures (for the women to further consider changing their mind on the abortion) such as additional tests, waiting periods, and documentations; unneeded legal and administrative procedures and liabilities. parental notification laws; laws against insurance coverage including for women in poverty on public assistance; things which make providing abortions either too costly or too risky. A newer occurrence appears to be more direct – bans on abortion after 20 weeks pregnancy. A closer analysis of this religious right position shows some of the extreme hypocrisy and destructiveness of their positions. These “late-term” abortions are described as more murderous because the fetus is more developed. However, many of the anti-abortion laws mentioned above force women into later term abortions by making the process longer, more cumbersome, more expensive, and much farther away from home. Most Counties don’t provide abortions at all, and now a couple of states are reported to be close to completely devoid of providers.
The event itself (and too much of the movement overall) has long been mostly turned over to these conservatives. Counter protesters continue to be much marginalized by and from the larger pro-choice population. Local Democratic Party politicians and abortion agency decision-makers continue to ignore the actions and – from what I’ve heard over the years – maybe dissuading or coercing and dissuading provider employees and activists from doing so. However, reports state that a revitalization of pro-choice organizing has also occurred over the past year.
audio of pro-choice activists shouting down anti-abortion marchers from the sidewalk at Powell and Market (8 minutes)
pro-choice activists followed Walk For Lifers down Market Street and met them again around the Embarcadero (5 minutes)
This is an excerpt from the anti-abortion "Walk For Life" rally at the Civic Center. Recording for most of the first hours, this speaker seemed to get the strongest applause. this should be heard to understand how bad the messages are, because these religious-based messages seem to be resonating with more and more people. In the past two years, as example, the "Walk" seems to be including an increasing amount of college-age adults. This may be a result of effective campus organizing, without appropriate campus-based presence from left-wing political organizations and limited other activity options. (9 minutes)