Throughout the United States the inherent rights of women to decide what to do with their own bodies are under attack. Most frequently the attack is targeted at poor women, women of color, and young women. This assault takes many forms; it underlies legislation concerning parental notification and Supreme Court cases concerning a medical procedure which Congress has given the meaningless and misrepresenting name "partial birth abortion." It is glaringly obvious in the initiatives concocted to make abortion, including in the case of rape and incest, illegal and in the refusal by pharmacies to carry emergency contraceptive. Up until the 1970's it even took place through the forced sterilizations of tens of thousands of women of color, disabled women, and even some men.
Even if there were no threatening legal cases or legislation, many women still would not have access to clinics, emergency contraceptives, or funding for either. In South Dakota, the state where a recent attempt to make abortion illegal was defeated by 55% of the voting population in referendum, there is only one clinic which performs abortions and it is only open one day a week. The doctors that staff this clinic are flown in every week from out of state because no in-state doctor is willing to risk their safety. Doctors who offer abortion procedures across the United States , including South Dakota , have received countless threats. Besides this there have also been numerous acts of murder and continual violence at clinics, including bombings and arson.
In the six states bordering South Dakota there are 23 clinics, giving this expansive seven state region a total of 24. This is more than five times less than the number of clinics California , three times less than Florida , and equal to the number of clinics in the state of Washington. Whether or not abortion is legal in South Dakota is purely symbolic; women barely have access.
In order to defend a woman's right to control her own body and to support women lacking resources and access, a new collective has formed within South Dakota: the Uterus Liberation Front (ULF).
While the ULF's objectives are mainly concerned with a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, we are dedicated to total reproductive freedom for all women. This means that women not only have access to abortions and contraceptives; they also have the right to have as many children as they want, whenever they find it appropriate.
We recognize that reproductive freedom is not just a woman's issue; it is an issue of race and class as well, as these women are affected the most. We also recognize and denounce the actions of previous abortion rights groups who joined forces with racist politicians and eugenicists, who sterilized generations of women of color, poor women, and disabled women, to achieve their right to abortion. We honor the women of color responsible for the evolution of the predominately white, upper\middle class, feminists' fight for abortion rights, to the fight for total reproductive freedom for every woman.
We consider any assault on women's reproductive freedom to be an act of violence and repression perpetrated against an entire half of the population of the United States .
We do not deny that each abortion terminates a potential life. A fetus should be treated as neither a cancerous tumor nor a human being but as a potential life. It is absurd to belittle the emotional factor of terminating a pregnancy by pretending an abortion is nothing more than removing a lifeless growth, or by using euphemisms such as "the right to choose." However, equating the quality of life of a woman to that of a fetus, through legislation that gives rights to fetuses, is offensive and degrading to women and suggests that they are nothing more than reproductive vessels.
We aim to make abortion the empowering and positive experience it can be by treating women with the dignity they deserve and by helping them find the support that they need.
1. Abortion remains a legal and safe option for all women regardless of the circumstances concerning their pregnancy.
2. Abortion, Emergency Contraceptive, and general contraceptives become realistic financial options for all women regardless of their income, race, age, religion, citizenship status, or the circumstances concerning their pregnancy.
3. The Hyde Amendment, which allows Federal and State health care programs to deny funding for abortions, be repealed immediately.
4. Patients and their doctors decide which operations are to be performed, not Congress.
5. Hospitals provide abortion services in order to grant more women access to the procedures.
6. Emergency Contraceptive be made available in all Emergency Rooms for survivors of rape and incest.
7. Emergency Contraceptive be made available to everyone, regardless of age.
8. No mandatory waiting periods between abortion counseling and the procedure.
9. All parental notification laws be repealed.
10. Schools are given funding to teach children that contraceptives and abortion are options. No more "abstinence only" education.
11. All government funding for "pregnancy crisis centers" and other fronts for antichoice groups be cut off or denied.
12. Abortion clinics, doctors, and patients must be protected and defended. If the government will not do this then we must do it on our own.
13. Reparations be given to survivors of forced sterilization programs.
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO
Our first step in securing these demands will be to establish an abortion fund in Rapid City , South Dakota . This fund will provide monetary resources to women in need for transportation to clinics and to help pay for the procedure itself. We will also attempt to offer child care and locate housing in the case of forced waiting periods.
This is only the initial phase. We will also establish a women's library and hopefully develop a speakers' bureau, hold film showings, lectures, and workshops, and provide materials concerning the history of abortion in America , alternatives to surgical abortion, and other related topics. We will support the formation of women's gynecological self-help groups in whatever way necessary, such as providing them with a meeting space, acquiring donations of speculums or other materials, and helping them make contact with experienced midwives, women's health activists, and other self-help groups.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you live in Rapid City :
-We will need reliable volunteers to help field calls and manage our office.
-We will need volunteers with valid driving licenses and vehicles to offer safe transportation one day a week, one day every other week, or once a month.
-We will need dependable, loving volunteers to offer child care.
If you live in Sioux Falls or other, relatively, close areas with clinics:
-We will need volunteers who are willing to house women for a night or two.
If you live anywhere:
-We need funding and any amount will help. You can donate here: www.uterusliberationfront.org.
The money will go to provide services for women in need, pay our phone bill so women can contact us, rent for office space, photocopies, etc. Also, to remain accountable to donors, we will post on our website all the funding we receive, whether it was from an organization or individual, and what we have spent the money on.
-We need people to raise money in their areas for the Uterus Liberation Front. These fundraisers could be benefit shows, potlucks, performances of "The Vagina Monologues", workshops, poetry readings, film showings, or anything else you can come up with. If you need ideas email us and we may be able to help.
-We need herbalists, midwives, doctors, choice activists, etc. who are willing to give workshops or lectures for little or no money.
-We need donations of women’s health books, feminist texts, zines, and other related materials.
-We need gift cards for office supply stores.
-We need you to tell everyone about this. Email this to your friends, print it out and post it on a bulletin board, tell your family, put it on your blog, whatever you can do.
It is time for everyone to demand that reproductive rights be respected and protected. The Uterus Liberation Front is focusing on South Dakota
because we watched as the abortion ban was struck down and heard the cheering. While we celebrate and thank those who worked diligently to
raise opposition to the ban, everyone must remember that the fight is not over. We all still need to come together and secure our ability to
control our own reproduction.
UTERUS LIBERATION FRONT