Julie Lambert: Saturday, March 14th was the designated day for cities across the United States to rise up with a Bans Off Our Bodies event, organized by many groups, including Planned Parenthood.
[00:00:15] The demonstrations are in response to opposition to the recently leaked Court memo that could potentially overturn the 1973 ruling Roe versus Wade.
[00:00:28] What this would mean is that abortion rights would no longer be under federal oversight, but that individual states would have the option to create their own abortion laws.
[00:00:43] Here in Oregon, our constitution does protect abortion. However, we are likely to see a surge of folks coming from neighboring states as various Republican-held states already have laws that they have written and they are ready to put on the books. If the decision is overturned, people have tried different ways to demonstrate and to cope. There was a powerful poet at the rally. I will let her speak for herself.
[00:01:14] Paris: Hi, my name is Paris. As I was introduced, I have written two poems that I am going to read. So the first one is called Medusa.
[00:01:22] Medusa had the right idea I believe. A cave on a mountain seems the best way to go. Watch their eyes as you turn them to stone. Hold their lives in the palm of your hand. Let no more men tell you what you believe. Shatter them and their preconceived notions.
[00:01:40] If I was her, I would never leave, escape to where I would be exempt from the rule, the exception, because when a man came into my space and said,’I thought you liked this.’ All I could say back: ‘I was 15.’
[00:01:54] Oh, how I wish I had snakes for hair and weapons for eyes. Instead, my hair is curly, perfect for someone to grab in their hands and say, ‘You’re mine now.’
[00:02:02] It hurts that the way of the system that wasn’t made for us to succeed, will make us bleed to survive. Was I made to be broken? I carry pepper spray with me and plan to go into politics.
[00:02:14] Sparta would have welcomed us with open arms, a warrior society where violence was encouraged and reciprocation too. Castrate him with a knife if he touches you. Forget chopping the hydra’s heads up. We already know two more grow back in its place.
[00:02:29] Become a vigilante and turn them all to stone. Scream at them and stop playing nice. Once they diagnosed you with hysteria. Now they deem you a social justice warrior and pray for your death. Only through empowerment can anything be changed. With the collective rage of thousands, set the world on fire and dance in the ashes of what remains.
[00:02:50] I wish I was Medusa, as tragic as her life was, because she at least had an advantage, an advantage that ultimately killed her in the end because of snakes for hair and weapons for eyes were something that men didn’t understand. And so claiming to be heroes brought on her demise.
[00:03:08] Julie Lambert: And here is Paris with her second powerful spoken word poem.
[00:03:13] Paris: The world tells us no, the world tells us to let go of our anger. Our worries tells us to hurry. We labor under capitalism, never catching our breath, we work towards our death.
[00:03:25] And now they tell us to hold on, to a child growing inside, but it’s an embryo, not alive. They could grow up, you know, to cure cancer ,be great. Well, the government fosters hate
[00:03:36] because not every woman wants a child. They talk about giving the death penalty to women who miscarry. Doesn’t that seem scary to you?
[00:03:44] Swear fealty to a government without your best interest in mind? This is America, land of the free. How can we be so blind?
[00:03:52] They cannot see that a domestic supply of infants, not ones in foster care, disregard the children that are already there,
[00:04:00] And the black and brown woman who’ve been trying to tell you for years that this isn’t the Handmaid’s tale, merely the start of all of our fears.
[00:04:09] Being pro- choice gives women the option to have the embryo stay alive. This affects everybody. We’re simply trying to survive.
[00:04:18] And so as the government and the Supreme Court begin to enact their dominion, we’ll take to the streets and never give up, saying, ‘Not your uterus, not your opinion.’
[00:04:32] Julie Lambert: Next we heard from Becca Hill, a queer trans community activist. And here’s part of what she had to say.
[00:04:42] Becca Hill: I just wanted to say I’m so filled with gratitude for everyone who’s here today. So many more directly affected by this moment who aren’t with us today, but they are in my heart. I grew up in Texas where I was aware from a really young age that I did not have ultimate authority over what happened to my body because of the simple fact of how it had been put together, a complete roll of the dice had determined that someone else would always decide whether or not I was fully human.
[00:05:10] All I knew then, and what I know now in my bones is that each of us has appeared on this earth in a body, a breakable and temporary body from which place we struggle and scrape to live out the best possible short existence to find joy and love and community and peace and purpose among one another to make a home in ourselves and to try to thrive.
[00:05:35] And to live a full human life, each of us must be able to control how we exist in our body, how we embody our gender, how we live our sexuality and whether and when we have children, but we, but we have been born into corrupt systems of power and control that criminalize and punish us that desecrate and kill us based on gender, sexuality, ability, class.
[00:06:01] We are stripped of our own autonomy and dehumanized by these systems, especially the people who have been and continue to be forced into the margins of our society. We live in a country whose foundations were built on injustice, on the control, violation, and elimination of human beings, and systems that have controlled the reproduction of black and indigenous people of disabled people, and queer and trans people since its inception.
[00:06:27] Extreme conservatives are working tirelessly to ensure that the brutal legacy of authoritarian control over our bodies continues and expands to create a reality that is completely disconnected from the truth of being alive.
[00:06:48] People have always had and will continue to have abortions. Trans people have always existed and always going will. But as we stand here today in the shadow of the leaked SCOTUS decision that will overturn Roe V. Wade, it is already a felony to provide gender affirming care to anyone under 19 in the state of Alabama. Anti-abortion and anti-trans legislation have been spreading through state legislatures, hand in hand for years.
[00:07:21] Both chipping away at our humanity, both setting the stage for more control over our bodies. Shifting cultural conversations so that they are dominated by fear. And questioning and undermining the humanity of the people that they attack. And this year conservative politicians will be leveraging these dehumanizing narratives to grab political power in elections.
[00:07:43] Extreme politicians have been saying the quiet part out loud for a very long time. They will stop at nothing to pass a nationwide abortion ban that would make abortion legal in every state in this country. They will stop at nothing to ensure that trans people do not exist and they will not stop at abortion rights.
[00:08:00] And they will not stop at trans rights because this is not about pregnancy or about children or about safety morality or care. It is about controlling our bodies about keeping us from joy. Opportunity and wholeness, my body,
[00:08:19] My body feels the impact of both of these attacks. There is no separation between, between these issues when they live together within many of us. These attacks are a transparent and frankly, pathetic attempt to control the wild and the beautiful nature of our existence to dominate, to violate, to oppress the fullness of our humanity, to strengthen the systems that give them power.
[00:08:44] Fortunately, fortunately for us systems like bodies are temporary and breakable.
[00:08:57] Anything created by people can be destroyed by people. We will not be stripped of control over ourselves. We will fight in solidarity together to ensure that not one of us is left behind in the fight for liberation, and the fight for control over ourselves and our reproductive futures.
[00:09:19] So look around you today. Find your people. Build just resilient systems. Support with your labor and your dollars if you can, abortion networks and funds like the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and the Cascade Abortion Support collective that work right here in Oregon, they are working on the ground to remove barriers to access that have always existed: transportation, childcare, lodging, and money to pay for the procedure itself.
[00:09:45] You have to find ways to create real safety and solidarity and your community find ways to distribute resources in your community. Find ways to come together and for the greater good…And I promise you, we will survive this moment together.