Friday, January 22: Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Each year the anti-'s rally at the State Capitol to demand that the Roe v. Wade decision be repealed. The context for this year's rally was the appearance of the totally discredited video attacking Planned Parenthood, the murderous attack on the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, and at least six attempts of arson against clinics providing abortions. These horrific events seem to have energized the anti-abortion forces, and hundreds gathered at the State Capitol (more than in recent years).
The anti-abortion rally was dominated by hymns and Bible verses. Many carried signs provided by the Knights of Columbus; buses disgorged students in Catholic school uniforms. This was clearly a "religious" event sponsored by the Catholic Church and other fundamentalist churches. Signs and banners exhibited stunning ignorance and lies (that 90% of all women who have had abortions are sorry they did; pictures of one-year old children with the caption "these babies were killed by abortions", and more).
Our courageous and spirited group of about 15 people waded into this crowd with their signs and chants. They held signs along Beretania Street in front of the rally and their chants were loud enough to bounce off of the Capital Building. As the anti's marched past the protesters the World Can't Wait spokesperson jumped up on a bench and led the chant: "Not the Church, Not the State - Women Will Decide Their Fate" and "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!"
Some anti's tried to argue with us; some tried to hold their signs in front of us; a few bumped and jostled us. A man stood behind us with his hands raised and praying.
At one point the police confronted the protesters saying they were interrupting a permitted rally, but when the WCW spokesperson stated that we had a right to stay, they conceded and backed off.
The group was diverse, and many had never met each other: Planned Parenthood supporters, LGBT activists, WCW activists, a mother of 8 and grandmother of "too many to count" from the Big Island who said she "just had to stand for choice." There was a great spirit of solidarity amongst us as people exchanged names and told why they had come. A gay activist related being questioned by a friend as to why he cared about choice: he responded that it was a "human right", adding that he didn't have kids, but he still fought for decent schools and challenged his friend not to be so narrow. Another commented on the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, who at this moment have 60 lawsuits alleging child abuse against them in Hawai`i alone.
At a time when abortion clinics are being attacked, and a concerted war against women is being waged by fascist fundamentalists, it seemed more important than ever for us to be boldly in the streets.