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‘I’m Not Waiting Until After The November Midterms For My Rights’ Speech By A Feminist Activist In Detroit

As protests against the leak of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade take place around the country, Detroit-based activist Rebecca Paris made the following speech at a rally. We re-print her speech here.

Rebecca Paris

May 7, 2022
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A protest, people are milling around. In the center of the frame is a woman playing the trombone.

Below is a speech by Rebecca Paris, a 22 year old organizer with Detroit Will Breathe and the newly formed Michigan Coalition for Reproductive Liberation.  She gave this speech at a rally in Detroit Sat, May 7th.  

Back in October, we marched through the streets to oppose the Texas and Mississippi abortion bans. We knew the threat those laws posed against Roe v. Wade. Today, I stand here after a leaked Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. I knew this day was coming, but I still can’t wrap my mind around it. I’m so angry, I feel betrayed, I feel powerless.

In 2007, while giving a speech, Obama said — and I quote –- “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”. Two years later, in 2009, when asked about the Freedom Of Choice Act again he said, and I quote, “Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose. But…

I was 8 years old when Obama was first elected, 12 when he was re-elected, and 16 when Trump was elected. I’ll soon be 22. Now, I’m from Livingston County, so I’ve always known what the Republicans stand for, but before I could even vote the visceral realization that Democrats have failed me hit hard.

I shouldn’t be standing here defending my right to an abortion. Roe vs Wade was settled in 1973,

Carter had a veto-proof supermajority from 1977–1979, and had a Democrat majority in the Senate & House from 1979-1981. Clinton had a Democratic majority in the Senate & House from 1993-1995. Obama had a supermajority in 2009, and Biden currently has a Democrat majority Senate & House. Since 1973, Democrats had 4 presidencies, 4 opportunities to legalize and decriminalize abortion.

How can I trust the Democrats when, in our most desperate hours, they gaslight us into giving them the exact power they choose not to yield? My whole life they have done this and I won’t be fooled into thinking this is some coincidence because it’s not. The Democrats routinely dangle the threat of repression from Republicans to gain votes, but once in power they turn their backs on us and legislate for whoever is lining their pockets.

How come Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn are pledging support to Pro-Life Democrat Henry Cuellar instead of his young progressive opponent? It’s a game of political theater to them while we’re dealing with the structural violence of a capitalist state. To allow conservatives to subjugate our bodies as vessels of reproduction while Democrats are in power is class warfare.

ABORTION WAS AN ACCEPTED, SAFE, AND LEGAL PRACTICE IN AMERICA. OFFICIAL ABORTION LAWS DID NOT APPEAR IN THE BOOKS UNTIL 1821. 

If a woman living in New England in the 17th or 18th centuries wanted an abortion, no legal, social, or religious force would have stopped her. People around the world have used abortion to control their reproduction at every point in history, and in every known society — regardless of its legality.

Dana Nessel and Democratic Michigan prosecutors have come out saying they will not enforce Michigan’s 1931 anti-abortion law when Roe v. Wade is overturned, but those pledges mean nothing if we don’t mobilize to ensure they happen. We have to force them to stay off the back burner and do our bidding. We can’t stand for the passive position Democrats have taken for 50 years, the Democrats have allowed Republicans to chip away at our rights. So, if we want something done, we’ll have to mobilize ourselves by any means necessary till we win. Democrats must shut down the state legislature until abortion is legal and if not, we will shut it down ourselves. We will not comply to a ban on our bodies, we must defend and keep abortion clinics open. We have to halt the function of our undemocratic political establishment on a State and Federal level and we have to strategically target corporate money that funds anti-abortion legislation. It’s going to be hard work, but working-class people are in danger and I’m not waiting until after the November midterms for my rights, they had 50 years. We must demand free, safe, and legal abortion, on-demand, without apology, NOW!

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