Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bronx activists defend abortion rights

I am a volunteer in an abortion clinic in the south. The South Bronx, that is. You thought I meant a rural backward area with shotgun toting folks, right? No, the attacks against a women's reproductive rights don't just take place in the "red states". I escort women through the doors of an abortion clinic where 50% of the abortions in the Bronx are performed. My job is to get the women safely inside the doors before a group of protesters start harassing them.

In New York City the anti abortion establishment fund "pregnancy advice centers" which pose as places to provide "free medical care" but are actually nothing more than anti abortion propaganda detention centers. In addition, the anti choice protesters park an unmarked white van outside my clinic as a place to give women "sonograms" so she can see her baby. The dubious sonograms are performed by unlicensed protesters and since most of the women who come to the abortion clinic are 10 weeks pregnant or less, nothing much can be seen at this early stage. The anti abortion protesters use this time in the van rather, as an opportunity to brainwash and guilt trip the women into having an unwanted pregnancy.

The protesters outside my clinic are a mix of paid agitators and volunteer high school students from religious families. The approach they use varies from " Don't do it mommy we can help you" to "You are going to burn in hell. They kill babies in there". Most often if they succeed it is with teenage girls who are emotionally distraught or older women in their thirties who don't have the medical insurance or cash to get the abortion. It is heart breaking to see women pushing strollers or with babies in arms saying desperately " I can't have another one right now" or on their cell phones outside the clinic doors begging friends and family to give them money for an abortion, only to become prey to the anti choice fanatics who offer her "free medical care"

This is why as a socialist working class feminist, I not only fight and work for reproductive choice for women, I also campaign equally hard for free nationalized high quality healthcare for all with a full range of women's health services. Real "choice" should be available to all of us. We can't talk about a women's "choice" if we allow capitalism to put a price tag on it.

Margaret Collins: CWI  NYNY

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