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Jane is calling: Maine DSA rallies for reproductive rights

by | Jun 29, 2022 | Featured, Gender equality, News, Spotlight

On Sunday, June 26, hundreds of people came out to a rally sponsored by Maine DSA to stand up for reproductive justice and decry the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. The crowd was overwhelmingly young and the event featured a diverse range of speakers. One speaker was Zuni, a local mom, indigenous activist, and member of Maine DSA. Pine and Roses is proud to print Zuni’s speech.

*****

First, I must acknowledge the Wabanaki whose land we rally on today. Thank you for your stewardship of this land for thousands of years. Thank you for persevering in the face of genocide and oppression to continue to fight for the land for so many generations. I am equally in awe and pain for the resilience indigenous folks have had to build within to survive and thrive another day. The only tried-and-true caretakers of this land are indigenous. Seek out local Wabanaki causes and contribute what you can. We are past acknowledging the land is indigenous. It is time to show up on all fronts.

Zuni, “Jane is calling.” Photos by Pine and Roses.

For nearly a generation, racist and patriarchal medical staff across this country sterilized thousands of indigenous women. While the outdated reporting used language equating all humans with wombs as women, it is safe to assume many of those individuals come from across the gender spectrum. Twenty to fifty percent of those individuals who sought care for reproductive issues were sterilized through coercion, manipulation, and pure force throughout the 1960s and 70s. From the 1980’s onward abortion and access to healthcare was severely restricted.

Today we are here for bodily autonomy. We are here for solidarity in protecting, saving, and revitalizing human rights that have been taken away from us and our loved ones. It is past the point of posting something on social media and emailing someone who tells you anything you want to hear for a vote and some cash. Today we put ourselves in the streets.

It is so great to see so many folks out, passionate and determined to make our voices heard. This is what solidarity looks like. The patriarchy is convinced they have won, and finally silenced the “gentler sex” and the lgbtqa community. They have forgotten that we are the majority of this nation. A majority that demands human rights and bodily autonomy for everyone. A majority that voted, and has spoken. The act of furthering bodily oppression within their own laws shows us once again that the system is working exactly how it was built to work. If politicians truly worked for us, and were held accountable for not doing so, Roe would have been codified long ago.

What we need today, and going forward from this moment, is diversity of tactics and solidarity across all fronts that fight for the same goals. There is room for all of us in the revolution. It is not limited capacity, we need everyone. The entire point of building community is helping those around us succeed, it is a way of life, not a temporary fix. No matter your expertise or contribution in life you are enough and worthy exactly as you are. We are all perfectly growing everyday. From legal council, jail support, providing water, carpooling, donating, printing flyers, stopping traffic, planning march routes. The larger our community the more we can effectively help our cause.

Everyone knows the quote, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

When I speak to cis white men about abortion activism I very often hear the same delicate responses.

“I am pro-choice but its not my fight this fight should be led by women.”

“I want and think I care about it, but I don’t have your passion because it doesn’t affect me.”

First, I would say, looking around me today and seeing the wonderful speakers that are coming up. We are leading this fight, we have always led this fight. Trans, non-binary, Two-Spirit individuals constantly lead the fight for our own rights. We welcome all your new faces. Do not feel small if this SCOTUS decision was the first catalyst to your action. You are here and that is what counts. You are awake now to the fact that this is only the beginning. Trans rights, same-sex marriage, contraceptives, and interracial marriage are all in jeopardy. Your community will need you to stay this passionate. Stay angry, fight ignorance and hate with knowledge and revolutionary love for others. I cannot instill empathy through a speech.

Hundreds gather for Maine DSA abortion rights rally in Portland.

We are still living the poem I just read. It was written in 1946. If we can’t band together now, when the rights over our literal physical bodies are being threatened, when will we be able to? I am not going to tell you to vote. I respect those who choose to try and change the system from within and I support them. But I do not have enough faith to speak on it here today. I thank those who fight for us under incredible scrutiny within our local government. Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier, I’m looking at you. You are a fucking magic form of radical love and strength. Thank you for giving us a voice inside.

I must admit. I hate this. I am not a public speaker. I dislike being at gatherings of more than five people. But this fight is incredibly important, and we need to share our stories. I am an indigenous mother. Raised by my white father, I am a reconnecting Chukchansi Yokut.

At 18, I told my abusive boyfriend I had to go home due to an emergency. I got on a bus and stayed in a hotel, and went through days of appointments and paperwork and interrogations from medical staff, and had an abortion; alone and terrified. I never told anyone about it. I was ashamed and scared that I would be treated differently. I was so incredibly lucky to have been able to pay for the procedure, and have access to it at all. Three years later I had a daughter, at a much more stable and safe stage in my life. Sometimes guilt still creeps in, wondering if she would have loved to be a little sister. I always need to remind myself of the struggle that child and myself would have been trapped in, stuck in a terrible environment, who knows if I ever would have had the opportunity to have her. Abortion saves lives. My biological mother had an abortion after it was discovered she had a ectopic pregnancy, where the egg lodges in a fallopian tube and cannot grow to term, resulting only in death of the caregiver if left unattended. Abortion is the medical procedure for this occurrence.

At the end of the day, both of my stories today have happy endings. Many do not. Many will not. In many states today, people are missing medical care and scrambling to be seen, worried about their futures. While we must exist within this system while it stands, we do not have to accept this fate. If we are not given human rights, we will take them back. We must step out of our comfort zones and protect those around us, on all levels. There is somewhere you fit into this fight. For every person standing on the front line of a riot, there are twenty behind them, providing a network of solidarity and mutual aid. All of those people are everyday humans.

Signs at June 26 rally.

If you take only one thing away from everything i’ve ranted about today let it be this:

Every organizer, speaker, sign holder, medic, the person you carpooled with, we all have that same knot in our stomachs right now, that pitter patter in our chest about our futures. The only difference between us is we answered the call first. We need you to not just march here today, not just vote, not just email and post something well worded on your timeline. We all need to support our comrades in the fight for equality with this fervor, at every level. On a daily basis. I know it sounds like a big ask. I am not asking that you don’t take care of yourself, or to endanger your mental health, but to consider how you can shift your life forward and build ties with the others in your community outside of grinding for the system. Stop thinking of activism as radical, as it is clearly necessary to our future.

We are all worthy of happy and healthy lives. We will not be ignored or oppressed any longer. We protect us. And we will never go back. Jane is calling, I answered, will you? Thank you.

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