13: Abortion without apology with Megan Dey Lessard and Michelle Farber

June 4, 2018

We talk to abortion rights activists Megan Dey Lessard of NYC for Abortion Rights and Michelle Farber of Seattle Clinic Defense about the fight to defend the clinics — and for abortion without apology. In our intro, we discuss the latest stage in the war on immigrants — Trump’s new “zero tolerance” policy that is separating children from their parents at the border.

Our co-producer, Maria Silvestri, joined Jen for our interview with Megan and Michelle. Michelle and Megan countered many of the arguments made by the mainstream pro-choice groups against clinic defense and explained why this kind of activism is needed right now. They argued that the strategy of relying on an electoral strategy or lobbying efforts has failed us as restrictions on abortion proliferate and we lose ground to the right. They also make an important case for building solidarity and struggle as the way to push back against the right and to begin to re-win an unapologetic argument for abortion as a fundamental right. We talk about the lessons of the Irish referendum to repeal the ban on abortion and why that should be a model for us here.

Here are links to some of the articles we cite and for further reading:

Jen wrote an article for Socialist Worker about the lessons of organizing the first counterprotest that was NYC for Abortion Rights’ first action (http://bit.ly/JenCounterProtests). At that protest, Jen debated an anti-choice activist in a New York Times FB live video (http://bit.ly/JenTimes). Julia Mead wrote a piece for The Nation (http://bit.ly/NationClinicDefense) about why activists decided to counterprotest, despite Planned Parenthood’s call to stay home. And Elizabeth Schulte covered the counterprotests across the country in Socialist Worker (http://bit.ly/SWConfrontBigots). Becca Bor, an Irish pro-choice campaigner, wrote a piece about the lessons of the repeal movement in Ireland and and how they won (http://bit.ly/SWRepeal)

In our episode, Michelle describes the impact of clinic defense on providers and patients inside the clinic. She wrote a very moving account of this in an article for SW (http://bit.ly/MichelleClinics). We also talk about Nancy Pelosi saying that the issue of abortion shouldn’t be a litmus test for Democrats. Lichi D’Amelio wrote a piece for Jacobin (http://bit.ly/LichiJacobin) about why the mainstream abortion rights movement is losing the war on abortion by tailing these Democrats, and why we need to make abortion a central issue for the left.

In our opener, Jen is joined by guest hosts Lea Ramirez and Lider Restrepo for a discussion of the crisis at the border. We talk about the impact of Trump’s new “zero tolerance” policy, which criminalizes all migrants crossing the border — even those with credible asylum claims. This has led to mass trials of immigrants and the separation of children from their parents. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have given a green light to racist border control and ICE agents, and have created a reign of terror in immigrant communities. But they are also a continuation of policies enacted under the Obama administration. We talk about why the abuse being exposed is built into the logic of border militarization and the push to deter refugees from fleeing the economic and political violence wrought by U.S. policy.

Here are some links for further reading:

ACLU report on the abuse of migrant children under the Obama administration (http://bit.ly/ACLUReportChildren) and press release about policy under Obama and Trump (http://bit.ly/ACLUObamaTrump). Intercept report on mass trials of immigrants in Texas and family separations (http://bit.ly/InterceptBorder). Socialist Worker interview with Karina Alvarez of the Laredo Immigration Alliance about violence at the border and an article about the murder of Claudia Patricia Gómez Gónzalez by Border Patrol agents (http://bit.ly/SWClaudia). You can read more of SW’s ongoing coverage of immigrant rights gathered as a topic list on its new site (http://bit.ly/SWImmigrantRights).