If you get lost on your way to the Women’s March this Saturday and find yourself walking past the “March for Abolition,” don’t expect to hear any homage paid to Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner or Harriet Tubman. The so called “Colorado Right To Life” organization has foolishly appropriated language rooted in the anti-slavery movement in a botched attempt to compare apples to orange seeds. Demonstrators will congregate outside the Stapleton Planned Parenthood on Jan. 20 to intimidate anyone seeking a wide range of reproductive health services while preaching abortion “abolition.”
Invoking the painful struggle for the abolition of slavery cannot and should not be a tactic for adding “emotional weight” to the anti-choice cause. Hijacking language from the real abolition movement in order to push for increased policing of women’s bodies is contradictory and deceptive, especially when these policies will disproportionately impact people of color. This is a method used time and time again by anti-choice activists, regardless of how critically misguided and offensive it is.
This abortion “abolition” rally is a pathetic attempt to steal some spotlight from the media generated around the 2018 Women’s March, and revive a battle that anti-abortion zealots lost a long time ago. Hosting a same-day rally to eliminate abortion access is a divisive effort to pivot people against one another, on a day where women are mobilizing around gender equality. More so, the rally highlights the true colors of the self-described “pro-lifers,” reinforcing that their agenda has nothing to do with improving the quality of “life” for women, children and families in Colorado, and everything to do with the forceful regulation of reproduction.
While 2017 was a very strange year in politics, it gave way to the #MeToo movement, which has brought institutional sexualized violence and issues related to bodily autonomy and consent to the forefront of national conversations. Institutionalized violence against women has strong linkages to reproductive health, rights, and justice, and it’s time that they are included in the discussion. Allowing women to decide for themselves if and when to parent has proven to be the most effective gender equalizer. Access to abortion saves lives, promotes economic and educational opportunity, and is responsible healthcare and family planning. The anti-abortion movement is severely disconnected from the medical, social, and economic realities that may inform a person’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. There is nothing “pro-life” about forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances — in truth, it’s cruel, abusive and yes, sexist.
As long as anti-abortion extremists are actively working to limit an individual’s fundamental right to choose to do what they want with their body, when they want — we’ll be around to remind them that safe, legal abortion is here to stay.