To Those Who Would Rather
Lie, Slander, and Attack
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights
Than Unite All Who Can Be United Against This Fascist Assault
Including a Statement from Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights co-initiators followed by broader statements of support here.
June 27, 2022
This statement is a response to the truly scurrilous, dishonest and highly destructive and divisive attacks hurled against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe. We also assert in no uncertain terms that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights has never used any funds it has raised for any purposes other than exactly what the funds were raised for. Our lawyer has sent a letter to those who have accused us of financial wrongdoing, instructing them to cease and desist in spreading these blatantly untrue, baseless, and extremely dangerous allegations.
At a moment when masses of people are rising up – at last – to fight against the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, an assorted group of organizations who have done absolutely nothing to mobilize people to fight this decision when it was impending over the past 6 months, have issued a statement packed with outright lies, slanders, and out-of-context quotes against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, the one organization that has led and continues to lead the fight against this unprecedented, illegitimate, and egregious decision. Pull back the lens and see this attack on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights for what it is and where it comes from. This attack is a confession and exposure of these organizations capitulation to the very reactionary forces that have now prevailed in overturning nationwide abortion rights. When facing a powerful enemy that you perceive to be invincible, it becomes so much easier to slander and attack those who are not only standing up but challenging all others to join in doing the same.
On the very day that women in multiple states will now be faced with the terrifying life threatening consequences of abortion bans—these groups choose to attack the only group that has been calling for sustained nonviolent struggle and protest to stop this since January! Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights has consistently, since its formation, called for the broadest possible united action, in the streets, against what was then the looming Supreme Court decision ripping away abortion rights. Read the actual founding statement of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and see whether it comports with what its accusers claim. The sad fact is that the great bulk of the “reproductive rights movement” chose to downplay the severity of the attack. They simultaneously counseled people to prepare for a “post-Roe” America rather than throw everything into preventing the decision. Many of these organizations attacked Rise Up for saying that this assault on abortion was overwhelmingly focused on women, even as Rise Up also spoke out against the way this assault would be used against the rights of LGBTQ people (as can already be seen in Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion yesterday) and consistently pointed to the disproportionate effect the overturning of Roe would have on Black and Latina women, and other women of color.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights’s actions over the past months and on the day of the decision are documented in the media around the world. The record is clear.
To the extent there is any principle involved beyond slander and scare, the scurrilous and false attacks on Sunsara Taylor, Bob Avakian, and the RCP are spoken to on the website revcom.us . Moreover, at a time when fascists in this country are not only making but carrying out all kinds of threats of violence against people who are resisting them, these attacks endanger these leaders, and should remind decent people of the kind of attacks and distancing that cost lives in the 1960’s.
We urge people to focus their efforts on struggling to reverse this attack on the fundamental right to abortion and not squander precious time and unity fomenting unprincipled attacks on groups and individuals that have been fighting for abortion rights and providing abortion care for years.
Signed by the following co-initiators of RiseUp4AbortionRights.org:
Merle Hoffman, Founder and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center
Lori Sokol, Executive Director of Women’s eNews
Sunsara Taylor, co-host of the RNL – Revolution, Nothing Less! – Show
The following are a collection of statements of support for Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights in the face of vicious, dishonest, unprincipled, libelous attacks by some within the pro-abortion “movement” which have been amplified in multiple media hit-pieces.
I have followed with dismay the attacks on Rise Up for Abortion Rights coming from a variety of progressive groups also engaged in the struggle to ensure that people in the United States have free and unrestricted access to reproductive and abortion care.
Like most who will be reading this statement, I am angered and deeply troubled by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. As predicted, this decision, formally titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has resulted in a wave of anti-abortion laws being enacted in state after state, some of which amount to outright bans. The damage that is being done by these laws to women who are or might become pregnant is unconscionable. On the one hand, I have no doubt that we will soon see a tremendous negative impact on the health and well-being of those whose access to adequate and appropriate reproductive health care is now being severely curtailed. On the other hand, we have not yet even begun to understand the scale of the emotional and psychological toll that this decision will take from those who are losing the essential health care support that they need and deserve from the communities to which they belong. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a cruel and deadly decision that must be undone as quickly as possible.
This is the source of my dismay about the attacks being leveled by abortion rights groups against Rise Up for Abortion Rights. The effect of these attacks is to divide us at a time when we desperately need to be working in concert to achieve a common goal—access to full reproductive health care, including abortion, for all who need it.
We can be sure that those who are rallying to expand what has happened with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in order to create a nation and a world where abortion is even less accessible than it is in the current moment are not all of one mind. And yet, they are able to set aside their differences in order to pursue their common goal. If we are unable to do the same, then we can be sure that this is a battle we will lose. And our world will be the worse for it.
Ideological and political disagreements should be aired in a principled, substantive way—this is not a time for making false accusations or flinging ad-hominem attacks. Now is the time to work together on various fronts to ensure that those who need abortions or other forms of reproductive health care will be able to get them.
So, I appeal for an end to the vicious and untrue attacks on Rise Up for Abortion Rights and on the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) which is one of its initiators. It is not only unfair but profoundly untrue to portray Rise Up for Abortion Rights as a front organization for the RCP. The RCP is merely one of the groups that has helped Rise Up for Abortion Rights to formulate and proclaim its courageous and passionate message that the decision to strike down Roe v. Wade is both unjust and cruel and that it must be reversed immediately. While other abortion rights groups may choose to take a different path in their advocacy, there is no room for attacking the good and important work that Rise Up for Abortion Rights is doing by getting people into the streets to demand the immediate reversal of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Along these lines, I appeal to all of us in the movement to guarantee the rights of women to control their own bodies and to make their own decisions about reproductive health care including abortion, to stop the unconscionable attacks that are being made on the RCP and its leader Bob Avakian. These attacks not only divide us at a time when we need to be acting in unity, they are also dangerous. We need only look at the damage done in the 1970s by the U.S. governments’ COINTELPRO program to discredit, divide, neutralize and destroy domestic political organizations that they had deemed subversive to understand the damage that can be done when we attack and discredit those in our own movement using similarly inflammatory and often untrue attacks. Bob Avakian is not a cult leader. Whether or not we agree with him and his revolutionary approach to social change, he is a person of deep principle and powerful intellectual capacity who has fully committed himself to “the emancipation of humanity.” Those who follow him are not puppets. They join the movement because they find Avakian’s description of history and his scientific approach to social and political change to be compelling. Finally, organizations like Rise Up for Abortion Rights and Refuse Fascism, which have significant support from the RCP, are not pyramid schemes designed to raise huge sums of money to support the leadership of the RCP. This accusation is nothing more than an insulting and inflammatory attack against all who have participated in these movements whether or not they have actually been members of the RCP. These attacks are not made on the basis of any real evidence; they are rather used as propaganda whose only purpose is to demonize and to divide. As such, they must stop immediately! Not only can we not afford the damage that some of us are doing to the larger movement through these attacks, we must also recognize how dangerous and—honestly, immoral and unjust—it is to create or even take part in such smear campaigns.
I encourage all of us to engage the RCP and its leader Bob Avakian in a manner that is respectful and open. There will be time for us to debate our differences in approach. But for now, stop the attacks. This type of internecine battling does nothing to advance either our struggle for abortion rights or our ultimate efforts to emancipate humanity and create a better world. In fact, it almost certainly guarantees that the unjust and intolerable situation created by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will continue long into our future.
Jim Fouratt, gay rights activist who participated in the Stonewall Rebellion, actor, and former nightclub impresario
As a senior, I’m a contemporary of Bob Avakian. I was in San Francisco at the time of the Black Panther Party. I remember the white people that stood up and supported the Black Panther Party and their programs. Bob Avakian was a young man and he was there. So I know of Bob Avakian for a very long time. I also was the first gay person to be allowed to speak at a left rally, it was at Yale in support of Bobby Seale. Although we were put on last, it was the first time that an openly gay or lesbian person had been visible and spoken from their sexual orientation point of view.
Cointelpro [the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program which spied on, disrupted, and set up revolutionaries and activists during the 1960s and 70s] wreaked havoc on my life. The FBI’s goal was to seek out who they saw as young people who were potential leaders. This was a story of Fred Hampton in Chicago. He was murdered by the police because he could have been the next major Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King. They went after me because I could speak. Most gay and lesbian people did not because they were invisible. They weren’t protected under the law and their jobs, etc. And they were subjected to police harassment of all different kinds.
I came to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights because they were out there standing up against the Supreme Court overturning Roe from the beginning, with their green posters and their green bandanas. I still wear them. I saw that it was important to find unity on the issue of the right of women to choose and the right of women to control their body. That includes trans people or people who identify as trans people. I own my body. You own your body. No government and no religion should be putting their hands on it. That’s what brought me to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.
These attacks on Rise Up are so similar to the attacks that happened in the 60s and 70s under the Cointelpro program by the FBI. And they’re happening today,
I believe, because of the success of Sunsara Taylor and the Rise Up movement with the revcoms.
We don’t all have to agree about lots of issues, but we come together because we feel unity with abortion rights. And I said it when I spoke at a Rise Up protest in February at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, if you want to disagree with me about someone or some person or history or whatever, let’s go talk over there in the corner. But today we’re here to fight the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions that control our lives today. (I made a point of saying not all Roman Catholics are bad people.)
You know, I went back and read all the papers of Bob Avakian. I knew the name, I knew some things, but I didn’t know his politics of today. I tell you, if you haven’t done that, and you’re out there making these kinds of accusations, you’re being really stupid and dangerous. It’s a kind of anti-intellectual culture. Read the ideas. Discuss them. That’s dialectics. That’s how we learn to talk and listen to each other.
I want to say thank you, Sunsara Taylor, for all the work you did. Rise Up was there in the beginning, making the link with the activists of the past of the women who had spent 20 or 30 years making sure that Roe stayed in place. I remember what it was like when women could not legally get an abortion. I remember how it impacted on poor people of different races and different sexual orientations. The idea that they’re calling Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights “homophobic” is bizarre to me. I have a whole history of being in the frontlines of fighting for civil rights for lesbian and gay people and bisexuals and trans as we went forward. So I say thank you to everyone who was involved in Rise Up, including Sunsara and other revcoms. Let’s just move forward. Those green signs were everywhere in Washington, DC when Roe was overturned. I was sick at the time, but I watched and I thought, they can’t stop showing them because we, and all of the young people and all of us old people that came together to try to stop the Supreme Court have not given up!
BMDC Denounces Attack against RU4AR
agreed upon July 3, 2022
The Boston May Day Coalition [BMDC] has been involved in the struggles of working people since 2006 and began to gear up for the fight to defend Roe vs. Wade this past winter. Even last fall, we were appalled to see that the forces supporting the Democratic Party and especially those supporting the Women’s March failed to see the need to mobilize a broad based massive visible effort in defense of abortion rights. During that period, we managed to hook up with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights which was sounding the alarm and mobilizing dozens, hundreds, and later thousands of youth, locally and nationally, in an effort to wake up the rest of the country to the real danger that lay ahead, while so many others on the left were sleeping at the wheel!!
The broadside attack is currently aimed at women, trans folks, and underage girls. But the Supreme Court has now opened the door to eliminating all rights not envisioned by the “founding fathers” who excluded women and African Americans from the constitution! The overturning of Roe vs. Wade calls for the broadest unity of forces who are willing to fight the systemic reactionary monster which seeks to suppress and deny the legitimate rights of working people and the oppressed.
Unfortunately, after all these months we now see the group, NYC for Abortion Rights, initiating a public campaign against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. They claim to want a “strong and united” movement but pursue a policy to divide and weaken the movement. They demand that RiseUp “step back from pro-abortion spaces” as if they are entitled to exclude an organization from the movement! Is this any way to build a social movement? This seems utterly juvenile and something you would expect to see in high school.
NYC for Abortion Rights and others place priority on attacking the presence of the RevComs in Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. The government and employers have for many decades used red baiting as a means of attempting to destroy social movements defending the rights of working people and the oppressed. Whether it be the fight for women’s suffrage, the rise of the unions, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the abortion rights movement, the environmental movement, etc., the reactionaries have always used this tool to destroy our fights. Martin Luther King Jr. was labeled a “communist” by FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover and subsequently assassinated. Popularizing these tools from this reactionary tool kit poses an existential threat to the movement today just as it did in the past.
NYC for Abortion Rights and others decry the activity of Rise Up’s members “wearing of white pants painted with fake blood, die-ins, and coat-hanger imagery”. They advocate for “safe self-managed abortion” and “medication abortion as a post-Roe tool”. It seems that these people know little about the history of the mass movement which won abortion rights. At the time of Roe vs. Wade, thousands of women had died from self-performed abortions using clothes hangers and from back-alley abortion providers unfit to practice medicine. Yes, we will see the return of clothes hanger and back-alley abortions in the future. Yes, women have died and will die in the future in spite of proclamations from the affluent wing of the abortion rights movement, because those who reject “die ins” are rejecting the reality of women living in poverty.
Indeed, slavery was ruled legal by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the abolitionists continued to fight until it was overthrown. Segregation was legalized in a supreme court ruling until Jim Crow segregation was overthrown by the Civil Rights movement. The battle for the restoration of Roe vs. Wade and Abortion on Demand Without Apology has only begun and NYC for Abortion Rights and others want to give up without firing a political shot. The Democratic Party has been telling us that we can vote our way out of this crisis. The current “moderate majority” government in Washington may have good reason to celebrate this campaign against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.
NYC for Abortion Rights and others are upset because “RiseUp frequently likens abortion bans to “female enslavement”. Unfortunately, the role of “housewife” or “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” is where the reactionaries want to place women. It is the duty of the movement to point this out even if it makes some people unhappy. Accusations of RiseUp being homophobic or misusing funds are just out and out lies. RiseUp has done much on a shoestring budget. The reactionary Supreme Court which seeks to drive us all down will not have the last word in the battles ahead around abortion rights.
BMDC rejects these divisive attacks and reaffirms the need to build a strong and united movement that develops a movement building culture which seeks to welcome all currents to the organizing table in an effort to organize joint actions decided upon by all the participating organizations. We reject the notion of a movement following a cult of personalities in the form of NYC for Abortion Rights and those who seek to divide us and weaken our ability to fight back against the attacks coming down from the government and reactionaries who want to take all of us back to 19th century style peonage, poverty, and political atomization.
Big movements do not begin in politicians offices. They begin with masses of people in the streets. Later on, after there is some kind of disruption happening, the politicians get rid of it and make it into some sort of legislation usually watering it down. That’s how so-called “progress” is made.
I’ve been following the incremental attacks on abortion for the 20 years we’ve been on the air. But as soon as we got into this chapter of it, I looked around for people who would go out into those streets and start to raise hell. I couldn’t find anybody except Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights who was out there immediately and mobilizing excellently. I was very excited about that. I didn’t see any of the other feminist groups and I’m in touch with a lot of them because a lot of them have been on the radio show I produce. They weren’t there. Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights was there. The crowds they were gathering were getting into the news. The different slogans they were using were getting into the news. I just thought that was really excellent, so I was very happy to sign the statement. I was very happy to join.
Now, when I heard about these attacks, it was a very familiar feeling. It was like: Oh no, here we go again. I had seen these kinds of attacks in other movements. I’d seen them in the housing movement. I had seen them in the feminist movement in the early days, when radicals started the feminist movement. Often women associated with the Left, women who were doing consciousness raising or consulting their own experience, were writing a whole new story for women. This is in the mid-60s. These women really spread it far and wide. There were consciousness-raising groups in towns and cities all over the country. Then, what do you think happened? A whole lot of people, usually women who were very involved with the system, began to feel that, “Oh, this movement is really getting someplace. Maybe it’s time that we took it over. Those crazy people who started it, well they were they’re good for starting things, but we can’t let them run they’re going to ruin it. We need to get it under control. We need to blend it perhaps with existing institutions. We need to water it down before it becomes too disruptive of the status quo.” That is a story that has been told often. You can actually go to The Power of History, an essay by Kathie Sarahchild of Redstockings, if you want to find out more about that takeover of the feminist movement and how it was kind of siphoned into the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean the radicals didn’t continue to fight – they are still fighting – but that was that was a great, great lesson. At that point, the radical feminist movement was attacked in many ways. A lot of the leaders were kicked out of groups they had started.
You see this kind of thing happen over and over again. Radicals tend to have more vision because they have a broader vision. The word radical really means getting to the root of things, looking at the deeper causes of things. Therefore radicals are pretty creative about what they’re doing. On the other hand, people who are doing incremental kind of one-issue-at-a-time and don’t have much vision beyond that, well, they’re good at co-opting what radicals are doing. But they’re not good at sustaining movements that have a real vision. So as soon as I saw these attacks on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, I said here we go again. And I ask people who may not have seen this before to keep a sharp look out for it, because it tends to repeat in many movements. When they are really taking off and getting some power and getting some recognition, a whole group of more establishment people come in and start attacking and they often attack very viciously and slanderously. In those ways they’re going to delegitimize those radical movements in people’s eyes. Sometimes it’s a turf war. Sometimes it’s people who are not maybe classical liberals, they can claim to also have socialist roots, but their socialism is a very establishment socialism if you really look at. So I wanted to pass this on to all of you. It’s a very dangerous pattern and it should be fought and it should be exposed. I’m very proud that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is standing up to it.
This is not a transphobic movement. You are right for using the word women in much of the sloganeering. The word women must not disappear and it is not in contradiction to supporting all gender non-conforming people. So that’s basically what I want to say. I very much support you. I’ve put out several tweets that have gotten around. I have worked together with Sunsara at WBAI radio. Once again, I thank you. Carry on. We need to be in those streets. We need to have no-business-as-usual while women do not have our rights. We need to have that as an ongoing inspiring motif and we need to stay with it, so thank you all!
To: 23 grassroots pro-abortion organizers who denounce RiseUp4 Abortion Rights.
I am making this statement as an individual. My accounts of the work that the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC) have done with the RCP are given solely for the purpose of giving an eyewitness account to give you a fuller picture of the RCP and to directly refute many, if not all, of the charges you made.
Before you seek to defame and cast out Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights on serious (but unproven) charges of being a cult and a pyramid scheme which diverts money from social and racial justice movements, you need to seek out the experiences of non-communist feminists who have worked with the Revolutionary Communist Party, (RCP), such as myself. As an anti-racist activist since 1965, and a feminist pro-abortion activist since 1969, I have first-hand experience with the RCP since the 1970’s which refute these charges. As the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC), we have worked with the RCP and with its various ad hoc committees on many occasions and on many social justice issues.
I’ve observed that the RCP often establishes ad hoc grassroots groups to fight on various issues, such as police abuse, abortion rights, and suppression of opponents to the Iranian regime. Non-communists are welcomed to work within or work closely with these groups. The RCP shares its literature and encourages discussion, but there is no pressure to adopt communism or Bob Avakian’s teachings. I have read many of Bob Avakian’s writings, heard him speak and watched his filmed talks. I find them interesting and thoughtful.
The FWHCs, which were founded in the early 70’s, also incorporated issues that were not directly related to the running of our women’s health centers. No one accused us of “glomming on” to these issues, such as home birth, forced sterilization, police abuse, and anti-Muslim violence. And, as regards being a pyramid scheme, RCP-sponsored Refuse and Resist for many years who escorted abortion clients through heavy weekly picket lines at the Eve’s Clinic in El Monte, California and later at the FPA clinic on Westmoreland Avenue. This clearly did not have their bottom line increased.
In 1979, I was a member of the Committee to Send Back the Shah. I, and Rebecca Chalker, also of the FWHC, travelled with the Committee to Iran. The FWHC’s also worked with RCP committees who fought against police abuse, and escorted at abortion clinics. The activities of these ad-hoc groups were mostly funded by donations from the sale of the RCP newspaper. I saw no evidence of large donations from anyone. After our Los Angeles health center closed, I joined Sunsara Taylor in Texas on the Stop Patriarchy tour. We slept on the motel floor and cooked our own meals.
Bob Avakian believes that a communist revolution is needed and that their dedicated efforts will make it possible. RCP members accordingly devote every minute after work hours to make it happen. I believe that females working together can eventually achieve equality, and the resulting egalitarian society will revolutionize the world.
I have personally known many RCP members for years. They definitely do not behave like someone belonging to a cult. They are educated, thinking political activists that are working toward establishing a communist society, and they like Avakian’s approach. They take on various issues because they feel strongly about the rights of the poor and the working class, and the rights of women, and they believe that working on the specific issues builds toward a revolution. They don’t “glom on” to these issues because they are popular or to exploit them.
Stop trying to keep people from associating with Rise Up, because you disagree with tactics you consider “theatrical” that alarm people about abortion. I have always believed that it is counter-productive to use coat-hanger imagery, however, many abortion rights advocates find the specter of “back-alley abortions” to be a strong argument for keeping abortion legal. If we threw out everybody who comes to a demonstration or starts a pro-abortion group on such debatable differences, we’d have a very small movement.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights has indisputably attracted a great deal of public attention. Their focus on their outrage may make some people uncomfortable, but remember that bold action can be part of successful protest and even the seizing of power.
You may be respectful of the rights of free speech, however there are many in our country who are not. Many equate “communism” with “un-American” and want to persecute and outlaw communists. Your ill-founded attack has enabled opportunistic so-called reporters to build a firestorm of criticism against the RCP and Rise Up4 Abortion Rights. Could it be that you’re concerned that wealthy philanthropists who financially support grassroots efforts such as yours will be scared to associate with a movement that includes communist groups?
The string of decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in June, 2022 heralds a trend toward outright fascism in this country. Those decisions reveal the ruling class’ overall plan to maintain Western white supremacy and rampant industrialization by destroying sexual and reproductive rights, by doing away with federal regulation on fossil fuels, by unleashing gun violence and by encouraging police abuse on those who protest, especially poor people and people of color. I urge you to keep up your own valuable work and to be inclusive of all who are working for the common goal of protecting our environment, our sexual and reproductive rights and a more equal society.
Life-Long Fierce Advocate for Reproductive Rights
The following is a copy of the letter Pam Laskin sent to the editor of the hit-piece published at The Intercept attacking Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, as well as Bob Avakian, Sunsara and the Revcoms.
Dear Ms. Renner,
As an active member of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and admirer of the passion, integrity, hard work and commitment of one of its leaders, Sunsara Taylor, I was appalled to read the recent attack waged against Bob Avakian, the revcoms and–in particular–against an institution, Rise-Up, so committed to securing the health and safety of women’s reproductive freedom.
I have been at many of the rallies organized by this group, and their honest and transparent commitment to this cause is to be revered, not bashed. What struck me at one of the earlier rallies–in March, before the Supreme Court came out with their decision, is how willing Sunsara, a spokeswoman, was willing to join forces with all the other organizations marching to defend this sacred right. Though Rise Up has a particular stance (which you naively and disparagingly attacked), she realized that it was critical to inspire revolution as a catalyst to overturn this decision, while also working with any other group after the same goal.
My guess is that you have never even heard her speak or bothered to interview her, because-if you had- you never would have waged a verbal assault on her goals. A new nation of young people are joining forces with this group because they are inspired by her powerful message.
During these awful political times, when truth is a commodity and our current rhetoric is based on lies, wouldn’t you–as a journalist–want to fully investigate your piece, so you are not perpetuating the negativity, lies and danger of our current world?
Shame on you for not doing otherwise.
Pamela L. Laskin
Director, Poetry Outreach
Lecturer, The City College of New York
No to red-baiting in the reproductive justice movement
At a time when a united mass movement to defend reproductive justice is needed more than ever, NYC for Abortion Rights and nearly two dozen organizations have chosen to launch an anti-communist attack against one of the most visible activist groups, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. Radical Women, a veteran socialist feminist organization with decades of experience in the movement for reproductive justice, denounces this dangerous game of divide and conquer.
The “Statement Against RiseUp4AbortionRights” – signed by NYC for Abortion Rights, United Against Racism & Fascism NYC, Brooklyn People’s March, Shout Your Abortion, The Jane Fund, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group and others – deplores Rise Up’s connections to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). It labels this well-known fixture on the Left as a personality cult. It accuses both Rise Up and RCP of using pyramid schemes to raise money and exploitative methods to recruit. These unsubstantiated claims are bolstered by other “crimes”: wearing white pants stained with fake blood, holding die-ins, using coat-hanger imagery, and describing forced pregnancy as “female enslavement.” The Statement calls on “repro groups to now unite in discrediting Rise Up publicly” and demand that “the group step back from pro-abortion spaces.” This divisive attack is like a dog-whistle to corporate media, which is crawling all over the issue in coverage from Daily Beast and The Intercept.
Imperfect as Rise Up may be, the reality is the group has been out front nationally in defense of abortion – though not the only group as they have claimed. It has consistently organized protests and used audacious tactics such as unfurling huge banners at sports events to draw media attention to the issue. It has broadened its messaging after being criticized that its single-issue focus on women having abortions was transphobic and limiting. Its green wave imagery is omnipresent and its anti-capitalist message is spot-on. Its boldness has resonated with youth.
Truth be told, it has been largely the Left, including Radical Women, that organized rallies, speak outs, marches, and protests throughout last year to draw attention to the impending Supreme Court debacle. Meanwhile, moderate feminist organizations pushed online fundraising and waited for the Democratic Party to ride to the rescue.
One has to think that some of the venom expressed in the Statement is from groups that did much less than Rise Up and may begrudge its appeal to young people. Others may be driven to undermine the influence of the Left in the movement overall. How condescending it is for them to demand that Rise Up disappear rather than trust young supporters to reach their own conclusions about whether Rise Up’s strategies work in the long run.
Radical Women initiated the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice a year ago in order to build the kind of coalition effort we think is urgently needed to preserve abortion and achieve full reproductive justice. The Mobilization has attracted feminist groups, grassroots organizations, unions, radicals, and individuals coming together in common cause. Though Rise Up in many instances put itself in competition with actions announced by the Mobilization, we managed to work cooperatively with it in various cities, including in NYC. Rather than demanding political conformity, we believe in respectfully debating differences. With the right wing intensifying its attacks on the most vulnerable, a united front of working-class organizations is essential to pushing them back.
Red-baiting, smearing people or groups for their radical associations, is not acceptable in the movement. It needs to be stopped before it further hurts the very women, people of color, non-binary, trans and poor folks looking to find a channel for their rage as their rights are stripped away. There’s no denying that those of us fighting for abortion rights and reproductive justice will have differences of opinions. It is essential we learn to work together with mutual respect instead of excluding, silencing and witch-hunting one another. Organizations and independent activists can unite around issues while maintaining our differences. The future of reproductive justice and all social movements depends on it.
While the far right is rallying disparate groups from bible-banging Evangelicals to gun-loving white supremacists, the left and progressives prefer to fight amongst themselves. When you attack the Revcoms because you don’t like their tactics or how they organize, you are hastening our country’s authoritarian, fascist takeover. You aren’t fighting the good fight when you spend your time and energy knocking down those on your own side. Stop this holier than thou BS! If you don’t like how the group organizes, you are free to do it your way. It’s all hands on deck people! There’s a place for all of us who are needed if we stand a chance of surviving the fascist surge that is sure to ramp up heading into the 2024 elections, which we can guarantee will not be free or fair. What is needed now is a united people’s front. We need to lock arms and push back. Shame on anyone who distracts from this common mission. You can either be right and stand alone or you can see our common cause and link arms to resist. Next time you want to lash out at Revcoms because they aren’t doing what you would do, maybe you should take that energy and direct it against the real forces of Christian fascism taking our country by storm.
Statement Addressing The Allegations Towards RU4AR On account of the Bay Area Youth who’ve worked with RU4AR since April 2022.
We work to get as many people in the streets with us as possible. The women & everyone who helped fight in Argentina won their right to abortion & other essential healthcare through protests with masses of people. Simply voting blue & claiming to be pro-choice isn’t enough. SCOTUS has already stated that they’ve got queer marriage and the right to contraceptives on the chopping block next.
The use of imagery including bloody pants, coat hangers, etc. is based off of the women who were severely injured or died from a lack of safe & legal abortion. This is the reality of what will occur. The argument that now there’s alternatives such as abortion pills or that people can just travel is invalid. Not everyone has the money or situation to fly to another state for an abortion, or to purchase an abortion-inducing pill. It is extremely important to both highlight & recognize
the fact that this issue affects black, latinx, low-income, and other further oppressed people disproportionately
When you donate to the Bay Area Rise Up4Abortion Rights Chapter, the money goes towards the printing & creating of our signs, stickers, banners, and other items used in protest. Many of our banners are made by us (the youth) on our downtime, and sometimes even just hours before protests. In order to create these, we have to invest in fabric, paint, stencils, etc. To make ourselves heard, we need megaphones & batteries for them.
All in all, we need to stand united in this fight. Now is not the time to start fighting within this “movement”. We might not all have the same ideologies, but we’re all fighting for the rights of women & all people who can give birth.
The attack on RU4AR is utterly malicious, shocking, and scary. One can only wonder what other McCarthyite weapons will be used to target the RCP and other dissident voices on the left… It would seem to me that the funders of the signatories probably set them up to do this, no? The attack is so transparently stupid—but dangerous, nevertheless— and it seems obvious that the real target attack is on the RCP…
Americans are taught who the enemy is—and it’s always those who refuse to be taken in by the US narrative, including China, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and Nicaragua; independent journalists; and organizations like the RCP. Now, maybe more than ever, communism—and socialism— has once again been turned into a threat. The plot sickens.
The following is a copy of the letter Peter Switzer sent to the The Intercept in response to their membership email (at times he quotes their letter). Switzer addresses the hit-piece they published attacking Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, as well as Bob Avakian, Sunsara and the Revcoms.
July 22, 2022
You’re certainly not helping democracy “survive” in any way… that’s a fact, something you folks seem to be in extremely short supply of over there.
You’ll have to lose the gaslighting, mudslinging, libelous non-“journalist” Robert Mackey before I would ever think about reading your slanderous rag ever again.
Is the Intercept actually going to allow slimy McCarthy type hit pieces like the one McMackey scratched out with zero reporting done and just lazy BS hearsay from others who really don’t know much, if anything at all, about Rise Up 4 Abortion, or the RevComs, or Bob Avakian? How much do they know about CoIntelPro or the McCarthy hearings?
What a joke, so old, so tired, such complete BS. RU4AR was organizing and agitating in the streets with NO “cameras” back in January 2022, straight through into DC well before the “cameras” came out there, and are still organizing actions and protests in the streets today. Where the hell were you? Where was McMackey?
RU4AR organized most of the actions in the streets across the country, that’s why they were/are there at most of them, with the microphone. Imagine that fact…
Rise Up was even ignorantly criticized for adopting green as the color of resistance for abortion rights when they began. There is a reason Rise Up chose green that most others didn’t have a clue about. Low and behold RU were criticized for “co-opting” that too when folks were made aware, a color, “co-opting” a color! Any allegations of “co-opting” are such a freaking joke, it would be painfully hilarious if it wasn’t so freaking sad and down right counter-revolutionary.
The same people who didn’t know where or why the green was chosen, are now all wearing green BECAUSE of Rise Up’s foresight and understanding, back in December/January to follow the women of Argentina and Colombia, where abortion rights were won in the streets, by the people. Even your pals in congress are now wearing green, (pic below) seen while Chu spoke on the steps of the house. The Dems weren’t wearing green before Rise Up adopted and popularized it here. Clearly RiseUp influenced many other groups in this way in the US, and elsewhere, as was its intention.
Mackey is ridiculous. Mackey’s putrid fact free rambling so called “journalism” belongs in the toilet, at best.
From The Intercept fundraising email:
– “Journalism will play a key role in the fight to restore sanity to the Supreme Court.”
The Intercept’s “journalism” certainly won’t.
– “It’s up to us to explicate the impact of these decisions, illuminate the forces that unleashed them, and demand action from those with the power to check the court’s excesses and repair the damage.”
Did it even occur to McMackey or the Intercept what RU is actually calling for??
Do you even know now, almost eight months into it?
If anyone over there truly believed only half of the content in this email you’ve sent along with your quest for “lavish” cash, then you would cease to publish what is the worst representation of “journalism” the internet has to offer.
I won’t be reading or accepting anymore stories or emails from your lower than swill you somehow label “dogged investigative journalism” site any time in the future. Unsubscribing today.
Get real, or GTFO.
A medical professional, after reading Sunsara Taylor’s rebuttal to the hit-piece by Robert Mackey at the Intercept attacking Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, as well as Bob Avakian, Sunsara and the Revcoms.
When I checked this morning, the Intercept still had the original story [attacking Rise Up and the Revcoms] featured prominently (middle of the page, one of the top stories in the “politics” section) without a printed rebuttal. The article by Sunsara was very well constructed. Detailing the complete lack of journalistic integrity, both by Mackey and by editorial staff, is important. Illustrating the trumpian methods of “argument” he employed to extremely dangerous ends, here directed by “progressive” journalists against some of the only organized forces that mobilized protest and resistance.
Continuing to press for the Intercept to publish the rebuttal should be seen by MANY as a just demand given the embarrassing lack of journalistic standards in Mackey’s article, and if they don’t do so soon, finding ways to make this a point of controversy among people who would generally read the Intercept could serve an important role, especially linking their article to the other unprincipled attacks published around the same time and with remarkably similar content, as the “Behind the week of internet attacks…” piece [by the revcoms published at Revcom.us] does. And doing this with the aim of exposing the putrid values and impoverished political vision and program that these attacks stem from and serve, and showing by way of contrast what a difference it makes to seek to understand the nature of this attack on abortion rights and the objectives of those pushing it, a scientific analysis that shows the way to fighting these outrages today and does not turn away from what is needed to take on the source of these regenerating horrors at their root!
I thought the section [in Sunsara’s rebuttal] “Canceling Bob Avakian to Erase Revolution” was especially powerful. It opens by tackling head on why these accusations of “cultishness” are not only shameful and have nothing to do with honest reporting or discourse, but have the effect of placing “out of bounds” any engagement with BA’s work on these crucial questions of the basic nature of this system, whether there is a path beyond all of this system’s horrors through revolution, what makes that possible and what characterizes the radically different society that would take its place–all questions of critical importance, that any reader of the Intercept who honestly confronts the magnitude of the crises and crimes of this system should want–or be challenged–to engage. I also think it’s helpful to enumerate the ways that the charge of “cult” plays with people, the labels that get affixed (“Everyone knows that cults are creepy and unthinking and dangerous. Everyone knows they are predatory.”). It places what people think out in the open, allows it to be taken on directly, and allows the hollow accusations and the whole innuendo-laden to be torn apart.