The "Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust" descended on the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum on Aug. 8. Their mission? To demand that the Albuquerque museum include an exhibit on abortion alongside those on the Nazi death camps, terming abortion "America's Holocaust." Needless to say, the museum refused to entertain the notion; however, SAH and its allies remained undeterred. The anti-choice extremists continued their protest, waving signs terming Albuquerque "America's Auschwitz" in reference to the availability of abortion services in the city.
Of course, anti-choice politics in New Mexico go beyond small groups of extremists staging anti-Semitic publicity stunts. The broader context in the state that attracted SAH is a ballot measure this fall: should it pass, abortion access in New Mexico would be severely restricted. Tellingly, among the measure's supporters are the infamous Operation Rescue as well as other anti-choice groups. Clearly, SAH feels that their attention-grabbing shenanigans can be deployed in tandem with political opposition to women's right to choose, in order to amplify their impact beyond their fringe status. Regardless of whether more reserved opponents of abortion rights explicitly work with SAH, Operation Rescue, and their ilk, the peripheral extremists nevertheless attempt to promote a cultural climate hostile to choice. Without such a climate, political attempts to shut down clinics stand little chance of success.
Attempts to curtail reproductive freedom are not limited to New Mexico. The far right has attacked abortion rights in state legislatures across the country, from Texas to Ohio and beyond. No wonder crusaders like SAH feel emboldened-with politicians across the United States attempting to kill Roe v. Wade by attrition, they must see their cause as vindicated. But is it? Will reproductive choice soon be a thing of the past?
More and more, women and their allies are saying "no." Faced with these threats to their control over their own bodies, women and other pro-choice activists are working to defend access to safe, legal abortion. Perhaps the most dramatic example to date has been Texas state Senator Wendy Davis's heroic filibuster earlier this summer; however, the movement goes beyond one moment, however powerful. Indeed, there has been talk of Davis running for Texas Governor, encouraged both by Texans and by pro-choice activists elsewhere. And in Albuquerque, a coalition of women's organizations, health care providers, and other supporters of reproductive freedom have united to make sure that the ballot measure does not pass.
The pro-choice grassroots movement has also come together to tell extremists like SAH that they and their agenda are not welcome in New Mexico. A "Rally to Denounce Terrorism in Albuquerque" will be held on Aug. 20, protesting SAH, Operation Rescue, their anti-Semitism, and their tactics. The more the people make it clear to the far right that women have a right to make decisions about their own bodies, and the more the people stand up to attempts to criminalize women's reproductive choices, then the safer and more empowered women will be. The liberation of women, after all, is the cornerstone of universal liberation-and without standing up for themselves, defeating an oppressive system becomes impossible.
Photo: Rally to Denounce Terrorism in Albuquerque Facebook event page