The Third International after Lenin

Friday, December 30, 2016

The pro-choice battle of Wichita

....There’s an important example of a different course that workers and young people looking to defend women’s rights today can learn from.

Emboldened by the bipartisan attacks on the right to choose abortion, Operation Rescue launched a national campaign in the early 1990s to physically shut down abortion clinics. They mobilized thousands of rightist cadres to lay siege to the three clinics in Wichita, Kansas, in the summer of 1991. Leaders of the main women’s rights organization argued against a countermobilization, saying the cops and courts should be allowed to “do their job.” The result was that the rightists succeeded in shutting the clinics for weeks.

Many defenders of women’s rights drew the lessons from this defeat. In April 1992, when Operation Rescue tried to pull off a siege of clinics in Buffalo, New York, they were met by some 1,500 defenders who turned out daily at 5 a.m. to keep the clinics open. By the end of the second week, most of Operation Rescue’s troops had left town, demoralized. Defenders of abortion rights went on to confront Operation Rescue in Houston and other cities and successfully beat them back.

This is the direction we need to look today — not the same dead-end of relying on the same capitalist parties who’ve overseen the assault on workers’ rights and living standards for decades.

Supporters of the SWP will attend the Jan. 21 action, not to build it, but to meet and debate with those there an alternative, independent working-class road forward. 

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