Countering 40 Days of anti-choice lies

In San Diego, pro-choice activists turned out to take on the emboldened anti-choice bigots of "40 Days for Life," report Ali Mehraban.

Defenders of reproductive rights block the right's message in San Diego (Ali Mehraban)Defenders of reproductive rights block the right's message in San Diego (Ali Mehraban)

SOME 30 pro-choice activists, led by the group Nasty Rebellion, mobilized in defense of abortion rights on April 1 against an anti-choice "40 Days for Life" protest outside a downtown San Diego Planned Parenthood clinic.

Members of the International Socialist Organization and many unaffiliated activists joined the counterdemonstration. The pro-choice activists drowned out the 10 or so anti-choice bigots in both numbers and spirit.

Activists carried signs saying, "Mind your own uterus" and "Raise your voice for women's choice," and chanted, "Abortion on demand--can we do it? Yes, we can" and "Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide." Pro-choice activists blocked the bigots' 8-foot-tall posters of fetuses with their bodies and signs.

With the election of Trump and Pence, who are staunchly anti-choice and have expressed a desire to see the right to legal abortion overturned, the anti-choice forced behind the annual 40 Days for Life campaign have added wind in their sails this year.

Attacks against the right to legal abortion have been constant since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, but have escalated at the state level in recent years--and especially since Trump's election.

Since 2011, 2,100 anti-choice bills have been introduced at the state level, and more than 300 have been enacted--60 alone during Obama's last year in office. In December, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into a law a ban on abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, with no exceptions for incest or rape.

Campaigns like 40 Days for Life and ProtestPP see the election of Trump as a mandate to carry out the project of ending access to abortion once and for all. Such anti-choice groups are predicting that 2017 will be the strongest year for their movement.

But the left is organizing to prove them wrong. Beginning with protests in cities across the country on February 18 to stand in defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights, activists in San Diego and beyond are fighting to rebuild the grassroots struggle to defend our clinics and our right to choose abortion.

At the end of the counterdemonstration, activists expressed a sense of success as well as a feeling of urgency to continue and build the movement to defend the right to abortion. As one activist said:

We can't cede ground to the right...That's what we're really saying, that we need to keep up the fight or women will die. Women will find other ways to get abortions, and women, specifically poor women and women of color, will die. We have to be there for our sisters.

Claire Douglas contributed to this article.