photo via Will O’Neill, Creative Commons
My reaction to the First Draft of the SCOTUS Fatwa against Roe v Wade was fear. We in the movement for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, POC rights, animal rights, have known eventually Roe would be on the chopping block. The brutality of their position, that a woman in danger of dying if she gives birth still cannot end her pregnancy is beyond the Witch Burnings in Salem and throughout the Spanish Inquisition.
I had to process. Fear serves no purpose, and I knew in my gut, the American people would see this and the GOP lizards would finally be on a train to the Reptile House where I hope they will enjoy life.
I stopped shaking with rage, I spoke to friends, to my cats who seemed unimpressed with the document on so many grounds it cheered me up.
Then my memory kicked in.
I worked with the Feminist Majority (FM) writing documentaries on the threat to Roe, violence against abortion providers, and other issues of reproductive justice. When I worked on these, I had a group of women around me who strengthened my resolve and held my beliefs close to their hearts. I miss them in moments like this, especially. But what I learned doing this work, and what I witnessed by showing up in movement spaces, reminds me we are not powerless, and we will win—or can, when we come together.
One of our documentaries showed Candidate Ronald Reagan in front of evangelicals called Focus on the Family. The GOP knew Reagan wouldn’t be elected POTUS without an influx of new voters—they turned to the growing Evangelical movement. Reagan spoke to the massive audience with a bud in his ear: James Dobson fed Reagan lines in a marriage proposal to the extreme right wing. “You all know that I cannot ask for your endorsement of me, but I assure you I endorse all of you!” Thunderous applause greeted this marriage of GOP and Evangelicals.
Focus on the Family, Operation Rescue, and the Christian Coalition coagulated into a powerful force for repression against women. But we were powerful too. It felt so fine in our office where peels of laughter rang often. Until Reagan won. We stopped laughing and continued to fight. The founders of the FM went and bought rights to the Morning After pill, RU486 and made it available in the US.
On another cool LA morning, colleagues from The FM formed a team to stop the anti-life pests from blocking clinics. They were cagey about which clinic they would attack. We were cagier: With one woman on a walkie talkie communicating with two others in the field, we got to the clinics first! The antis didn’t bully even one woman from getting in. The sweetness of sisterhood was profound. This action was later made into the FACE Act. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. It helped women get through the crowds of people who insult Jesus Christ by calling themselves Christians.
Some memories, of course, are less sweet. Some harden my resolve. The Evangelical haters resorted to bombing clinics, then shooting abortion doctors. “Killing in the name of Life”, a doc about this violence, will make your blood boil at as men in priest’s collars talk about shedding “rivers of blood” to stop abortion.
But what I’ve learned by now is that together, we find ways forward. Even in the face of forces hellbent on taking us back.
Don’t give up hope. We’re in this together. We are the majority. And we will win.