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Women’s rights backers to mobilize in Maryland
 
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 75/No. 28      August 1, 2011

 

SPECIAL EVENTS
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(lead article)
Women’s rights backers
to mobilize in Maryland
 
Militant/Laura Anderson
Pro-choice picket in DuPage County, Illinois, July 9 to counter protest there by Pro-Life Action League. Supporters of women’s right to choose abortion are gearing up for demonstrations in Germantown, Maryland, in response to actions planned there by rightist forces.

BY SETH GALINSKY  
Women’s rights supporters will join Summer Celebration of Choice actions in Germantown, Maryland, from July 31 to August 7. They are responding to plans by Operation Rescue, a right-wing opponent of women’s rights, to target the abortion clinic there for nine days.

Germantown Reproductive Health Services has been in the crosshairs of rightist groups since December when LeRoy Carhart, one of the few doctors in the United States who performs abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy, began working there.

“Operation Rescue’s intent is to close the clinic,” Laura Kacere, national campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation, said in a phone interview. “We want to have as many people as possible in front of the clinic every day to make sure it stays open.”

“It’s an outrage the way these groups are targeting Dr. Carhart, his staff, and women who come to the clinic,” Erin Matson told the Militant. Matson is action vice president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “We will be there to demonstrate women’s right to control our own destinies and to ensure a robust, peaceful presence.”

Matson noted that a woman’s right to choose is facing attacks elsewhere in the United States. “It’s not just in Germantown. There are double the number of antichoice bills being considered in state legislatures across the country,” she said, “even though the majority is pro-choice.”

Operation Rescue claims its actions are modeled on the 1991 Summer of Mercy in Wichita, Kansas, when hundreds of opponents of women’s rights blocked clinic entrances, often with the collusion of cops and city authorities. The most prominent women’s rights organizations didn’t mobilize in a timely way to answer the antichoice forces, nor did union officials and civil rights groups.

But when Operation Rescue tried to repeat their success in April 1992 in Buffalo, New York, the new attempt failed. They were surprised to find thousands of women’s rights supporters defending the clinics, which stayed open.

“This time we are not being called to Wichita, Kansas, but to Germantown,” the Summer of Mercy 2.0 website says. “We believe God is issuing a similar call to ‘establish justice in the gates’ of our nation.”

According to the group’s website, they are planning actions at the Germantown clinic and other locations during the week, culminating in a “Cross 4 Life” at the clinic on August 7. The Summer of Mercy 2.0 is officially backed by the Catholic Archdiocese in Washington and Baltimore.  
 
Antichoice groups harass clinics
Rightist groups routinely harass patients and workers at clinics around the country. In Orlando, Florida, Operation Save America protested in small groups outside four clinics starting July 16 in conjunction with its national gathering being held there.

On July 9 NOW in DuPage County near Chicago helped organize a picket to counter an action by the Pro-Life Action League, which has been on tour holding up giant posters of fetuses in public areas. While the pro-choice picket began with just six participants, 12 people who saw the action parked their cars and joined in, including a taxi driver and a teacher.

Supporters of the Summer Celebration of Choice are reaching out to build the Germantown pro-choice presence. According to Kacere, the Feminist Majority Foundation is working with students from American University, Montgomery College, and Goucher College in the D.C.-Baltimore area to turn out for the activities.

The Summer Celebration of Choice will start with a 1:00 p.m. Kick-Off Walk on July 31 that will circle the neighborhood where the clinic is located.

“People are coming from all across the country, from as far away as California,” reports Kira Baughman, one of the organizers of the Celebration of Choice. “We’re getting a great response.”

For frequent updates on how to get involved visit www.summerofchoice.com or just show up starting July 31 at the clinic, 13233 Executive Park Terrace, Germantown, Maryland. Laura Anderson in Illinois and Naomi Craine in Florida contributed to this article.
 
 
Related articles:
London march demands right to abortion
All out to defend Maryland clinic!

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