Newest Occupy Chicago Committee Protests Anti-Choice Bigots
This post is a part of the “What Democracy Looks Like” weekly column, which covers left-wing movements and activism. Formerly known as “The Active Left.”
On Saturday, January 28, the newly formed Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee held its first direct action in Oak Brook, Illinois.
The committee describes itself as follows, taken from the groups Facebook page:
The Occupy Chicago Gender Equity Committee demands full and open access to social services for all people. We recognize that issues of gender equality are inseparable from the long-running history of oppression of the working class and racial minorities. The fight for a truly democratic society cannot be achieved without the struggle for gender equity. We stand with all our brothers and sisters engaged in the fight for equality and ask all of you to join us in this: the fight for dignity, equality, and democracy.
After meeting up in downtown Chicago early Saturday morning, around 20 or so demonstrators made up of occupiers and members of other organizations, headed out to Oak Brook and braved the brutal cold to protest the annual Speak Out Illinois conference. SOIL is a right-wing, anti-choice event made up of over 30 pro-life organizations, politicians and activists.
The protesters stood in front of the hotel were the conference was hosted. Some of the signs present read “Trust Women,” “Bigots Go Home,” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries,” and “Don’t Soil Yourself,” to name a few. After an hour or so of chanting, the occupiers decided to hold a rally and speak-out. Speakers talked about the need for women to be able to have safe and legal abortions and how laws that ban abortion not only fail to decrease the amount of them, they also put the lives of women in danger. Ryne P. of Join the Impact Chicago–an LGBTQ group–stressed the importance of solidarity. Other groups represented were DuPage County NOW, Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education and the International Socialist Organization.
As soon as the speak-out concluded, the activists decided to march around the outside of the hotel, partly to be seen by the anti-choicers inside and partly to stay warm. While marching, the demonstrators chanted “Same Struggle, Same Fight. All Unite for Women’s Rights,” Two, Four, Six, Eight. Abortion Rights in Every State,” and a few others.
Some of highlights of the rally and the march were captured in a video made by Corrie W. of the Gender Equity Committee.
One speaker, and member of the ISO, brought to light the fact that 2012 will continue to be struggle because 2011 brought a myriad of anti-choice attacks from several politicians. Some examples are attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, an Ohio stunt to test the heart-beat of a fetus–which would have put in order some serious restrictions to abortions, a failed Mississippi law that attempted to deem a fertilized egg a legal person and a Georgia Republican’s plot to criminalize miscarriages. Last year also brought laughable remarks from anti-choice right-wingers such as when Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl said the “Not intended to be factual” statement that over 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business came from providing abortions and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s insane statement that women were frequently getting abortions after shopping solely because of a Planned Parenthood near by a shopping mall.
The right-wing attacks prompted a re-birth to the women’s rights movement which saw mass city-wide demonstrations via the Walk For Choice campaigns around the country. Of course 2011 also brought the popular Slut Walk, which fought back against rape culture world wide.
Along with the draconian attempts to restrict abortion and the weird laws that would redefine rape, the right-wing attacks also put in danger basic female and male health services by demanding the aforementioned cuts to Planned Parenthood and other health providers.
Hopefully this year brings not only strong attempts to defend a woman’s right to choose, but also develops into an offensive feminist movement in the struggle for free abortion on demand and for the end of rape culture.