Join Radical Women at "Reproductive Freedom Summer"

Dear Friends,
It is time for all feminists to come to the defense of the Jackson Women's Health Organization! Women and men need to hit the streets and shout out the words of Mississippi civil rights fighter Fannie Lou Hamer: “I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired”—and denied reproductive justice.

A Radical Women contingent from four U.S. cities is traveling to Jackson, Mississippi to take part in marches, rallies, forums and other actions that Southern feminists have organized during the week of July 15-22. During this time, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi will be under siege by Operation Save America (OSA, the former Operation Rescue), with support from groups such as the homophobic, anti-woman Minutemen United. Please join Radical Women in Jackson or lend your financial support.

When Jackson NOW, the Southern Abortion Fund and other pro-choice activists called for a “Reproductive Freedom Summer” to combat OSA, the idea was to provide physical defense of the women's clinic. Unfortunately, the new clinic director has decided to hire a private security firm instead of collaborating with the feminist community. This makes it even more urgent to support our sisters in the South and descend on the streets of Jackson like the anti-segregation Freedom Riders did in the 1960s.

The message Radical Women brings to the organizing in Jackson is that rightwing anti-abortionists are ultimately the Ku Klux Klan in street clothes. Their agenda would send society back to the era when women's “place” was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and the “place” for people of color was on the back of the bus.

To combat the growing far-right threat, it is not enough to hire security guards. It is not sufficient to endlessly e-mail and fundraise for spineless Democratic Party politicians, as some feminist groups do. The right wing is building a movement that attacks women, immigrants, queers, people of color, and workers. Defeating the bigots hinges on generating a movement powerful enough to win the hearts and minds of the people of Mississippi and of the U.S. This means building a militant, multi-hued multi-issue force that will protest, sit-in, strike, and use any means necessary to preserve human rights. That's what worked for the civil rights movement, and that's what can work now.

Feminists need to go on the offensive and do more than just protect the minimum that still exists. Real choice means safe, free, unrestricted abortion on demand to women of all ages and abilities; free, safe birth control; an end to forced sterilization; employer-funded, 24-hour childcare; full medical coverage and pre-natal care for all; and guaranteed jobs, social services, education and training.

If you are interested in organizing with Radical Women against the ultra-right – in Jackson or elsewhere – please give me or Christina Lopez a call at 206-722-6057. Donations toward the contingent's travel expenses and hotel costs are also much needed. Please mail checks, payable to Radical Women, to 4710 University Way NE #100, Seattle WA 98105 (indicate your donation is for “Jackson defense”).

Thank you for your help, participation and support. Let's turn this Freedom Summer into a new season of liberation!

Anne Slater
Organizer, Radical Women
1908 Mission St., San Francisco CA 94103