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BACORR West Coast Rally For Reproductive Justice
The Bay Area Coalition on Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR) held a rally in support of abortion, and for a full and comprehensive reproductive rights agenda at the Embarcadero near Justin Herman Plaza. The rally took place Saturday, January 21, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. As in each of the past 8 years, the rally was held at the same time as the Christian-based anti-abortion Walk For Life West Coast, which is continually and successfully moving towards a complete nationwide elimination and criminalization of abortion as a prime position in its right-wing public policy agenda. A new record of over 1,100 anti-abortion provisions have been introduced at the State level during 2011, with 135 laws enacted in 36 states. (49 minutes).
A new record of over 1,100 anti-abortion provisions includes a sharp increase in provisions that actually restrict access to abortion. While a similar set of circumstances has taken place on this date for the past 8 years, the character of the actions has changed this year. In the past, both sides rallied side by side at the Embarcadero, with BACORR holding a counterdemonstration, then following Walk activists on their permitted rally around the Embarcadero to the Marina on the City perimeter.
This year, BACORR decided to hold its own pro-active reproductive rights rally as a more positive alternative to difficult to carry out counterdemonstrations. They got the Embarcadero permit well before Walk could re-apply for it. Walk, with their continued organizing savvy, reacted by getting a permit for Civic Center Plaza, putting them much more in the center of the city allowing broader exposure.
This is a “David against Goliath” type of battle for BACORR, requiring a combination of knowledge, resolve and political will. BACORR brought out probably over 100 staunch supporters, while Walk had probably upward towards 5,000 activists nationwide from their big-money churches. The BACORR actions have been held up to criticism and often ridicule by most sides in the public debate, including the institutional abortion industry, which continues its dogma over its “safer” and continually losing strategy of limiting their actions to lobbying Democrats for funding and to lessen or fight off individual pieces of legislation (it seems mostly ones like the Congressional efforts to ban Planned Parenthood and other organizations from government funding). These organizations seem to hold a heavy hand over its workers and supporters, and in no way promote these street actions while simultaneously ridiculing them as counterproductive.
Most politicians have stayed away (exceptions this year are SF Supervisor David Chiu, who put up a successful City ordinance against purposeful and abusive false advertising for abortion services by anti-abortion groups who do not offer the services they advertise; and SF State Senator Mark Leno who has been a long-time supporter of reproductive and other health-care rights). Major media, here particularly with a Chronicle writer named Nevius who writes hit pieces on activists, also trivialize and ridicule these street actions with an analysis absolutely contradictory to the facts and realities of the situation.
Unfortunately, these women's rights issues also don’t hold a high priority for other activist organizations pursuing multi-issue links, such as activist labor, socialist and other anti-war organizations, and anti-poverty activists. From my analysis, this continues a long history of women’s rights not being high on the political agenda and falling subservient to other pressing activist campaigns of whichever day.
The audio from the rally is very valuable from a content perspective. While many pro-choice people are informed of the public policy dynamics in the political fights, the BACORR actions are very informative in providing detailed analyses of the actual effects of anti-abortion policies and actions on women’s health services and basic rights. The speakers also articulate in fact-based detail the actual need and positive effects of abortion and other reproductive rights for women and society , which sharply contradict the continued barrage of misinformation and outright lies presented in the superficial and ideologically-charged policy debates. The “picture painted” is one of absolute brutality as a result of anti-choice legislation against women wanting or needing abortion, which continues to encroach on virtually all reproductive services including even educational services.
The following statistics are taken from the Guttmacher Institute website, guttmacher.org.
Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights:
2011 State Policy Review
By almost any measure, 2011 saw unprecedented attention to issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level. In all 50 states, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, again an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.
(Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)
Fully 68% of these new provisions, 92 provisions in 24 states, restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions shattered the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions adopted in 2005. About the only bright spot for reproductive rights supporters was the defeat in Mississippi of a ballot initiative that would have sharply restricted women’s access not only to abortion but also to various contraceptive methods by defining a person under state law as “a human being from the moment of fertilization.” Other victories for supporters of reproductive health and rights were few and far between in 2011; two states expanded eligibility for family planning under their Medicaid programs and four states expanded access to STI prevention and treatment.