Here’s a guest blog by Madison Burnett, rising 3L at Georgia State University and recently elected LSRJ national board president.
Georgia is not an easy place to be a reproductive justice advocate. Abortion rights are constantly threatened at the state level, and every legislative session in Georgia provides new laws that undermine a woman’s decision to have an abortion or bills that serve as an attempt to challenge to the constitutional right to abortion. Anti-choice groups continue to disproportionately target the South and rural areas where they think- with some reason- that they will be more successful.
The week of July 14-20 served as a harsh reminder to the South’s reproductive justice community that our rights continue to be threatened. The anti-choice group “Operation Save America” came to Atlanta last week. The group, formerly known as Operation Rescue, has a history of blocking access to abortion and family planning clinics and some members have advocated violence against abortion providers. Their threatening activities of the week included throwing a brick through an abortion provider’s window, but luckily no one was injured.
Apparently even anti-choice conservative Christian churches aren’t acceptable enough for OSA. The group even protested at a church in the Sugar Hill suburb because the pastor had the audacity to indicate that women who have abortions shouldn’t be demonized. They also targeted moderate churches who support abortion rights and welcome gay parishioners.
OSA targeted Atlanta in an attempt to pervert our city’s history in the civil rights movement, twisting civil rights language with the goal of restricting women’s power to control their bodies and lives. This majority white, majority male group have gone so far as to accuse Black women and their families as “perpetrators of black genocide.”
The RJ community in Atlanta responded with strength and intelligence. SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now , and Planned Parenthood of Georgia led the way, organizing a press conference, counter-protests, and informative workshops. I have never been prouder to be a part of the RJ movement then when I read Spark and SisterSong’s joint statement. Spark also beautifully co-opted the group’s “sidewalk counseling” practice outside a OSA rally.
OSA’s presence is a reminder to all of us of the importance of standing up for reproductive justice, both as citizens and as future lawyers.