abortion rights freedom ride

We were acting for millions...

-from Riley Ruiz, an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider

On August 13th, 2014, I along with ten other Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, got arrested for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, blocking traffic, in front of Rick Perry’s mansion.

As we walked across the street and took our positions, I thought about all the women who have died, all the women forced into motherhood, all the women shamed for having abortions, all the women kept silent. I remembered the story of a woman from San Antonio, who was raped, and forced to bear a child against her will, then forced into prostitution to survive, suffering for 35 years. I remembered the story of a woman who traveled to Europe alone, and was raped, became pregnant, and considered suicide as a reasonable way out. These stories were just some of the many that were told at our People’s Hearings; they represent the huge stakes in this fight over whether half of humanity will be free to determine their own futures, and they will stay with me forever.

As cars began to pile up, and people on the sidewalk gathered and filmed, I felt more and more emboldened. The cars began honking, and we chanted louder. People came out of their cars shouting at us, one car nearly hit one of us, but we were not deterred. We stood strong for nearly 10 minutes. Many people watching from the sidelines were in awe, and some were moved to tears. People participated in all kinds of ways, giving us water as we sizzled on the hot pavement, talking to and filming the police to make sure they didn’t get totally out of line, and doing interviews responding to the action. It was so compelling, what we did, that people stayed and watched the entire thing unfold, until every single one of us was put into the police trucks.

When the cops gave us a countdown before they began their arrests, not one of us flinched. It took them quite a while to cuff all of us, and all the while we did mic checks, talking about the dark ages agenda that Rick Perry is fighting for, the fact that if HB2 holds it will result in the foreclosure of women’s lives as well as women dying from self induced abortions, and chanted things like “1, 2, 3, 4 Abortion is worth fighting for! 5, 6, 7, 8 Women’s lives are what’s at stake!” and, “Come on, come on and join the fight! Abortion is a basic right!” Our voices were giving out, the pavement was searing hot, and the police dragged us away one by one, but there was NEVER a moment where we lost our energy and determination. We were charged the entire time, knowing we were acting for millions.

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On August 13th, the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders took the resistance to a whole other level. 11 people were arrested, for putting our bodies on the line, committing a civil disobedience in front of Gov. Rick Perry’s mansion, because women’s lives and futures are at stake in this abortion rights emergency and we REFUSE to sit by as women are slammed back. 
Stop Patriarchy firmly holds that people everywhere can and need to step up. 
We are determined to fight this through. We were brutally arrested, and in jail we were separated and harassed, but we will NOT be cowed. 
August 25-September 1st we are calling for a national week of defiance. This week needs to model the kind of uncompromising resistance it is going to take to defeat this assault on women’s lives. Things like what we did a few days ago, and much more. 

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Sounding the alarm on the abortion rights emergency in NYC, calling on people to sign up for the ride, donate, and send a message on a coat hanger down to the women of Texas! If you are in the NYC area and do not want to see women’s lives foreclosed due to forced motherhood, JOIN US! We will be out every weekend leading up to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride which kicks off August 1st!

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Back at the Federal Courthouse in Austin, supporting the heroic doctors who are standing up for women’s lives! Abortion Providers are Heroes! The banner we brought out today traveled throughout the country last year on the first Abortion Rights Freedom ride and was signed by hundreds of people who support this right.

"What comes first: the people or the courts?"

Sharing a commentary from someone who just heard Sunsara Taylor speak at the University of Northern Iowa

by GG in Minnesota

I recently heard Sunsara Taylor speak to a student group at a nearby college.  She spoke about the need to stand up against the intensifying war against women in this country.  In particular, she spoke about the efforts of Stop Patriarchy.org, to fight the attacks on abortion clinics and to challenge the outrageous laws being passed that limit women’s right to abortion. In recent months Taylor has traveled over 12,000 miles with other members of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride to carry this message across the country.

More recently members of Stop Patriarchy have been in Mississippi to
support the Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, and are now in Albuquerque, NM to stand against a ballot initiative banning abortion at 20 weeks. Sunsara stressed that we must work together, not just locally but across the country, in order to bring real and necessary change.

During the question-answer period someone challenged Sunsara’s approach to these issues.  Rather than take to the streets or build networks of support across the country, why not just trust the courts? 

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First photo-set from the official launch of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and the very first People’s Hearing in Houston, TX.

Volunteers read incredibly moving testimony from abortion providers on the front lines, from a young woman who experienced brutal violence for daring to walk down the street alone, from a women who watched a loved one die before her eyes from a botched illegal abortion, from a courageous clinic escort who volunteers at the last clinic in MS, from a young woman from Houston who fears becoming pregnant due to the inaccessibility of abortion in her state, from women who experienced having an abortion after it was legalized, and felt nothing but relief. We also heard from two women, who had just recently heard about the ride, who were inspired to share their stories of abortion and the overall experience of being a woman in society, on the spot, one told through a powerful performance piece. 

This is a model, which people all over the country can and must take up, as a part of building up a movement which is breaking the silence, shattering the stigma, changing the terms, bringing out the fact that women’s lives are at stake, and that without a fierce struggle to change the trajectory of this assault on abortion rights, women’s lives and futures will be foreclosed. 

This first People’s Testimony was live broadcasted on StopPatriarchy.org and is posted on the front of our website for others to watch who were unable to tune in live. They will be broadcast LIVE every Wednesday at 7pm CST, in Austin, San Antonio, and Brownsville. Come in person if you can, and if not be sure to bring people together and tune in!