We want to outmobilize them every day to show that supporters of a womans right to choose are the majority, Lindsey Creekmore, one of the organizers of the Summer Celebration of Choice, said in a phone interview.
More than 200 supporters of womens rights have already signed up in advance for the pro-choice presence outside the clinic, Creekmore said. More are expected to directly join the week of actions. For many this is their first time being part of a pro-choice action like this, she noted. We are organizing two training sessions so participants can be prepared and avoid provocations organized by Operation Rescue.
Alicia Dudziak, a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, attended the first training session, which drew about 30 people. Although abortion is legal, there are many things that make access difficultlike cost, transportation to the nearest clinic, parental notification laws, and clinic violence, said Dudziak, who volunteers as a clinic escort in Cleveland. I want to make sure that women feel safe.
The Maryland actions are also being spurred by a spate of laws around the country that restrict the right to choose. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states enacted 80 restrictions on abortion rights so far this year, more than double the previous record of 34 in 2005. Many prohibit abortions performed after 20 or 21 weeks, except if the mothers life is in danger.
Operation Rescue has made late-term abortions and Dr. Carhart central targets of its campaign against the right to choose. He is one of just a handful of doctors in the United States who performs abortions after the 20th week. In a front-page article in the July 25 Washington Post, Carhart said most women who come to him for abortions later in their pregnancy do so because the fetus has severe abnormalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 1.3 percent of abortions take place at 21 weeks or later.
Women should have control of our own bodies, Lisa Sendrow, a student at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, told the Militant. She volunteers with the National Organization for Women and is promoting the Summer Celebration of Choice.
Sendrow has helped protect a clinic just once before. Rightists had come to a Pennsylvania clinic, and they called us baby killers, she said in a phone interview. They dont understand that its about making your own choice for yourself. Im not pro-abortion, Im for the right of women to reproductive freedom.
Another rightist group, Operation Save America, provocatively targeted a half-dozen abortion clinics in Orlando, Florida, from July 16 to 23 without closing any down. They used loud speakers to play the sound of a heartbeat, shouted murderer at women going into the clinics, and offered money to clinic-goers to attend a video showing against the right to choose.
Some of those accompanying women entering the clinics in Orlando joined with pro-choice supporters and held up signs saying, This clinic says open. Ida Eskamani, a student at the University of Central Florida, organized students and others to help defend the clinics. Each day we organized to meet on campus and caravan to different clinics, she said.
Summer Celebration of Choice begins at Germantown Reproductive Health Services at 7:30 a.m. July 31 and will include a 1.3 mile Kick-Off Walk at 1:00 p.m. The pro-choice presence at the clinic will continue every day through August 7.
On Wednesday, August 3, were making a concerted effort to turn out large numbers for a peaceful presence, Laura Kacere, campus organizer for Feminist Majority Foundation, told the Militant, in response to Operation Rescues plans for a Live Ultrasound.
For up-to-date information on the weeks activities, go to www.summerofchoice.com.
Paul Pederson in Washington, D.C., and Tom Baumann and Naomi Craine in Florida contributed to this article.
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