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News and reports

August 19, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Health care is a right
Shut down Oak Ridge
Defend immigrant rights
Stop the Texas death penalty

Defend abortion rights
By Tamar Szmuilowicz

BOSTON--About 70 pro-choice activists confronted Operation Rescue (OR), a group of anti-choice bigots, in front of Planned Parenthood in Allston on August 13.

Chanting "We will not lose the right to choose" and "Sexist, racist, anti-gay--right-wing bigots go away!" pro-choicers successfully prevented the 50 or so anti-abortionists from being able to harass patients and employees entering and exiting the clinic. Activist covered up OR's signs with pro-abortion posters and banners and drowned out their voices with loud and confident chants.

OR and other anti-abortion groups can be found in front of the clinic every day. Neighbors, passers-by and Planned Parenthood clients were excited by the pro-choice presence.

One Planned Parenthood escort said that it was the first time he didn't have to hear the piercing voices of the anti-abortion activists and that we were "tough as nails" for directly opposing them. One neighbor, excited by the pro-choice presence and eager to confront the bigots face-to-face, came out to join the crowd, while some folks entering the clinic gave us a thumbs up.

After a few hours of nonstop pro-choice chanting, OR left without stopping many clients. The Coalition to Defend Reproductive Rights organized the clinic defense.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as open to us being there, including some members of Planned Parenthood, who repeatedly said that our presence (instead of OR's presence) was discouraging clients from coming into the clinic.

The demonstration was a good first step in directly confronting OR. In order to ensure that they do not return, pro-choice supporters must continue to organize a strong, confident and loud opposition.

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Health care is a right
By Peter Lamphere and Justino Rodriguez

NEW YORK --Columbia Presbyterian Hospital is a state-of-the-art research hospital, set smack in the middle of one of the largest immigrant neighborhoods in New York. But despite the fact that the neighborhood, Washington Heights, has nearly 100,000 immigrants--most of whom are from the Dominican Republic--the hospital has extremely inadequate translation services into Spanish.

According to a recent report by community groups, some patients have had to wait as long as 12 hours to see a doctor because no translation service was available. Another patient collapsed on the floor of the waiting room while waiting for translation.

According to local activist Luis Gil, "It is so bad at the hospital that sometimes the patients have to find janitors who work at the hospital to translate for them."

Luis is the educational coordinator and organizer for the Mirabal Sisters Center, a community activist group that has helped form a coalition, "Hablame Claro" (Speak to Me Clearly) with a number of other local immigrants rights groups to demand that the hospital sign an agreement to provide adequate translation. "There are never translators in the emergency room," said Gil. "We not only want translators, we also want them to have received medical training and be professional."

Other immigrant groups, notably Make the Road by Walking in Bushwick, Brooklyn, won better translation services by public protest and pressure.

The coalition has already held a successful protest outside the hospital that gathered 200 community members to demand equal access to health care. They also have an ambitious series of actions planned--including a call-in day and more pickets.

The struggle is urgent. "Translation at Columbia Presbyterian hospital is a necessity for the community," as Luis Gil says, "it is a life or death issue." Furthermore, he argues, "this struggle is a part of a much larger struggle...they don't want to give us even basic health rights."

For more information, contact the Mirabal Center at www.mirabalcenter.org or 212-234-3002.

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Shut down Oak Ridge
By John Osmand

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.--More than 1,000 people gathered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory Y-12 nuclear bomb plant for the largest peace demonstration in the history of East Tennessee, according to organizers. Fifteen protesters were arrested for blocking the entrance to the plant.

The annual protest to demand an end to nuclear proliferation drew many more people this year because of the 60th anniversary of the U.S. use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) sponsors two such rallies each year.

The keynote speaker at the rally was Nakanishi Eiji, 63, who was three years old when he survived the atomic bomb blast that obliterated his city of Hiroshima. "Survivors have only one purpose," he told the crowd. "Never let that happen again."

People came from across the country and all over the world. Betty McGuire, who traveled from Detroit, said this was her first time at a protest, while some veteran activists walked 300 miles from the Savannah River site where plutonium and tritium were once produced. The Department of Energy plans to resume production of both bomb components again.

Event organizer and OREPA member Ralph Hutchinson told Socialist Worker that growing antiwar sentiment also contributed to the massive turnout on August 6. "People's eyes have been opened by Bush's misrepresentations," and they are making connections between the war, nuclear bombs and the School of the Americas torture-training camps.

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Defend immigrant rights
By Steve Leigh

SEATTLE--Immigrant rights are under attack in Washington. Anti-immigrant activists are seeking to gather 224,880 signatures by December 30 in order to place Initiative 343 on the November 2006 ballot.

The initiative, similar to Arizona's Proposition 200 that passed last year, would ban government services to anyone that could not prove legal residency and require voters to supply proof of citizenship at time of registration.

Meanwhile, the Minutemen are planning to set up shop in Washington. Trying to blunt claims that they are a racist organization, they plan to patrol the northern border for Canadians without legal documents. In reality, Washington State has a large Latino population, and this will be the real target of the Minutemen's racist organizing.

Immigrant-rights advocates are not taking these attacks lying down. A coalition of more than 30 groups met as soon as the initiative was announced. It's time to mount a campaign now to stop the initiative from getting enough signatures to get on the ballot.

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Stop the Texas death penalty
By Nathan Hensley

AUSTIN, Texas--About 25 people gathered in front of Gov. Rick Perry's mansion July 28 to protest the execution of David Martinez. Members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the International Socialist Organization, a group of local Quakers and other concerned citizens came to voice their opposition to Texas' tenth execution this year.

Martinez was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to die by lethal injection. Martinez was mentally ill from years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father. At the time of the crime, Martinez was also homeless.

This isn't an unusual set of circumstances in Texas, which ranks 45th and 46th in spending on public health and mental health respectively, while ranking first in the number of executions. It seems that the only money Texas is willing to spend on the poor or mentally ill is the amount necessary to put them in cages or snuff out their lives altogether.

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