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Abortion Rights Freedom Riders Head To Jackson

Freedom Riders Head to Jackson as Abortion Rights at Critical Juncture

Battle over Mississippi’s Last Clinic Concentrating State of Abortion Rights Nationally

As scores of restrictions on abortion rights travel through legislatures in state after state, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride enters a critical ‘flashpoint’ of the national battle shaping up in Jackson, MS. With its bold and straightforward message: “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology”, Freedom Riders and local supporters are shaping a new and determined counter-offensive, national in its character, against the legal and ideological assaults on women’s reproductive rights through speak-outs, rallies, and honoring of abortion providers.

The Jackson Women's Health Organization is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, open only through court order. As a clinic escort states, it is the "last resort" for women who go there from all over the state (Full statement below). With anti-abortion forces claiming legislative victories nationwide, using ever more bold anti-women rhetoric, and actively seeking to undermine and intimidate this 15-state Abortion Rights Freedom Ride as it enters the ‘heartland’, this state and this clinic concentrate the emergency situation for abortion rights around the country.

This clinic was first brought to the national spotlight in 2005, when PBS Frontline ran a powerful feature: “The Last Abortion Clinic” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/clinic/

Leading voices for women’s rights, such as Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler (see statements below) have given their support to this Freedom Ride, and there is an ever growing list of signees to the Abortion on Demand & Without Apology Statement.  
http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/abortionondemandstatement.html

David Gunn, Jr., the son of David Gunn, Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman, has been a key organizer of the rally in Jackson, and an outspoken supporter of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. (Available for Interview – statement below)

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame.” From a co-authored piece “Abortion Rights are at a Crossroads, This is NOT a Time to Lay Low—It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!” by Sunsara Taylor (initiator of StopPatriarchy.Org and writer for Revolution Newspaper) and David Gunn.

From San Francisco and New York City, and at every stop (including key stops in Fargo, ND & Wichita, KS) this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and its unapologetic message have drawn forward support from many corners of society. From the generation who remembers life before Roe v. Wade, to the young women who have never heard of abortion rights discussed in a context free from stigma and shame, the Freedom Riders are meeting people throughout the heartland who are expressing support for women’s fundamental rights and a willingness to act.  

Video of Community Support in Cleveland, Ohio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJViVMm9QGY

Local ABC coverage, Fargo, ND:
http://www.wday.com/event/article/id/84755/
HQ Edited Video of Fargo Rally: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlarG0aTUTc

…and more on StopPatriarchy.Tumblr.com

Gloria Steinem:

"We live in a world in which inanimate property is better protected by law than is the human body, and crossing a national boundary is more likely to be punished than bodily invasion. The long struggle against chattel, sex and labor slavery are all part of giving each human being the right to bodily integrity. 

"Women's bodies are the front lines of this struggle because we are the means of reproduction. Without controlling women's bodies, it's not possible to continue divisions of race and class and to produce cheap labor.

"I say this to thank the Freedom Riders in Little Rock for protecting the only clinic in Arkansas -- and in Jackson, the only clinic in Mississippi -- that supports women's reproductive freedom. If women can't decide the fate of our bodies from the skin in, we can't control our lives from the skin out. Reproductive justice is the single greatest determinant of whether we are healthy or not, educated or not, in the paid labor force or not, and how long she lives. Involuntary pregnancy is the most intimate form of involuntary servitude, and the right to give birth is a human right. The power of state stops at our skins. I thank you for being Freedom Riders for reproductive freedom."

Eve Ensler:

"The near-daily laws restricting women's right to abortion, the chorus of Republicans belittling rape and shaming women, and the whole future they are aggressively fighting for are terrifying and an attempt to push us back to the dark ages. It is a state of emergency. Forced motherhood is a form of violence.

"But we must not be paralyzed by fear or sleepwalk in denial. WE MUST RISE.

"I am proud of throngs rising in Texas. I am proud of the women and men who will be traveling from both coasts and down the middle of the country in this summer's Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. I urge all to follow their daring and rise with them to reclaim our lives, our bodies, our own reproductive decisions, and our futures. There is no time to waste."

David Gunn, Jr.:

“When I first heard about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, I knew immediately I would support the plan for many reasons. Primarily, though, my support came from what Dr. King referred to as “the fierce urgency of now” coupled with my dad’s admonition to always pay attention to your surroundings. If anyone anywhere in this country is paying the remotest of attention they realize three immediate and concerning realities: 1) our personal liberty is on the line generally, 2) abortion rights are in a state of crisis and 3) those opposed to abortion keep killing our heroic doctors. I believe this ride has the potential to awaken the masses, refocus our energies on winning this battle, and will redouble our local and national efforts to keep our doctors—and their patients and staff—safe so that abortion services remain safe and legal.”

D.H., volunteer clinic escort in Jackson, MS. Signer of Abortion on Demand & Without Apology statement and donor to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

"I am a volunteer clinic escort at Jackson Women's Health Org., the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The undue burden that women must endure to travel hours to our only clinic is heartbreaking. Yet they are so grateful to have this "last resort" to turn to when making one of the most crucial decisions in their lives. If it takes fighting to my last breath, THIS CLINIC STAYS OPEN!

ENDS

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