Re: Stop the War Against Women!
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
STOP THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN!
By Rachel Nasca and Steve Kirschbaum
The national campaign of right-wing terrorism against women's
right to choose hit this town at 10 a.m. on Dec. 30.
In a brutal series of attacks, a gunman opened fire inside the
Planned Parenthood Clinic at 1031 Beacon St. First he killed
25-year-old receptionist Shannon Lowney. Anjana Agrawal, 30, a
clinic medical assistant, and two young men accompanying
patients--Brian Murray, 22, and Antonio Hernandez, 32--were
Within minutes, more shots were fired inside another clinic
approximately two miles away, the Preterm Health Services Clinic
at 1842 Beacon St.
Leanne Nichols, the 38-year-old receptionist, was killed. Jane
Sauer, 29, a Preterm Clinic worker, and Richard Seron, a
45-year-old security guard, were wounded.
Twenty-six hours later, in Norfolk, Va., the Hillcrest Clinic was
sprayed with rifle fire. Nearly 30 shots ripped through the rear
door. Some bullets passed through the building and narrowly
missed anti-abortion protesters.
Anti-abortion fanatic John Salvi of New Hampshire was chased from
the scene by a local arson investigator and finally pulled over
by Norfolk police three blocks away. He is being held as the
suspect in all the attacks.
SERIES OF MURDERS AND SHOOTINGS
These ugly murders did not take place in a vacuum. Just in the
last two years, there have been these abortion-related shootings:
Nov. 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis, Vancouver, Canada, shot in the
leg while eating breakfast at home;
July 29, 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and his bodyguard, James
Barrett, slain outside a Pensacola, Fla., clinic;
Aug. 19, 1993, Dr. George Tiller, shot in the arms as he left his
Wichita, Kan., clinic;
March 10, 1993, Dr. David Gunn, shot to death outside Pensacola
Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and
Bernard Cardinal Law of the Catholic Church have joined in chorus
to call for a "cooling off of the debate" on abortion, suggesting
that "both sides" stay off the streets.
This comes just when women and their supporters in Massachusetts
and all over the country want to show the reactionaries that they
have not been intimidated. They also want to show their
solidarity with the wounded clinic workers and those other
stalwarts who, despite the risk, continue performing their
In Brookline, a multinational delegation of women and men from
the Emergency Mobilization Against Racism (EMAR) was at the
Planned Parenthood Clinic with a banner within hours of the
That evening, over a thousand protesters, women and men,
converged on the clinic at 1031 Beacon and then marched to a
local synagogue for a pro-choice rally. Speakers expressed
outrage at the murders and commemorated the brave clinic workers
who have given their lives in the struggle for women's
The next day, more than 2,500 protesters rallied at the
Statehouse. Many vowed that the demonstration would be only the
first in a vigorous campaign to defend women's rights.
Liz Toledo of Workers World Party's Lesbian and Gay Caucus said:
"I oppose these terrorist attacks and feel that drastic measures
need to be taken. We need a national united response to defend
Rally organizers, including the National Organization for Women,
called for month-long actions at the two assaulted clinics plus
another facility at 1297 Beacon St., every Saturday from 8 to 10
a.m. Also planned is a Rally for Reproductive Freedom on Jan. 22,
the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision
On April 7-9 in Washington, there will be a National Rally
Against Violence Against Women.
ALL THREE CLINICS HIT BEFORE
The Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk, the largest of its kind on the
East Coast, was the site of a 1984 bombing attempt. It is in the
coastal area of Virginia that is home to Pat Robertson's
Christian Broadcasting Network. This is a center for the
religious right and rabid anti-abortion activity.
One of the right-wing leaders there is Donald Spitz, who calls
such shootings "justifiable homicide." He publicly thanked
accused killer John Salvi for "saving innocent babies from being
put to death."
Local anti-choice fanatics rallied at Salvi's jail cell, hailing
him as a hero.
Meanwhile, clinic defenders, who have been very visible at
Hillside throughout the years, have stepped up their defense
since the attack. They held a vigil in honor of the slain martyrs
and wounded victims of the Brookline shootings.
20 YEARS OF STRUGGLE
The Preterm Health Services Clinic, which opened here in
Brookline in the mid-1970s, has also been the scene of bitter
struggles between clinic defenders and the viciously anti-woman,
anti-choice forces. For over 20 years, this clinic has been a
focus of the battle for reproductive freedom.
In 1987, when the Planned Parenthood Clinic opened, it was
immediately added to the ultra-right's "hit list." In the last
two years, at least 17 illegal blockades have been set up by the
Clinic staff and pro-choice organizations have fought to obtain
court injunctions against anti-abortion disruptions and
blockades. They have made repeated demands for protection from
all levels of government. Yet the attacks continue.
Both the governor and mayor admitted at news conferences that
they had had intelligence on the impending attacks. The two
clinics had requested federal marshals because of increased
Nicki Gamble, President of the Planned Parenthood League of
Massachusetts, said, "We've had some very serious threats within
the last month." A local PPL doctor received death threats at
home and the clinic received bomb scares and death threats.
Nationally, PPL sent a representative to Attorney General Janet
Reno to "report on the nature of the death threats and to urge
more clinic protection." Reno's only response was that "there are
a limited number of marshals to respond to all the demands."
However, Justice Department spokesperson Carl Stern told another
story. He said federal law-enforcement officials decided last
year that U.S. marshals were not needed at abortion clinics in
AN INDEPENDENT PEOPLE'S INQUIRY
City, state and federal authorities are portraying this murder
spree as the actions of a lone, crazed individual. But the
official version of the events of the day has prompted many
Could one person really have carried out both Brookline attacks
in the official police account of the time elapsed--10 minutes?
Why did it take so long for police to respond?
Eyewitnesses say "Operation Rescue" forces had, as always, a
video camera at the scene. Why weren't these potential suspects
and their camera taken into custody?
Brookline Police Chief Howard Brackett has declined requests by
the Boston Globe for interviews. District Attorney William
Delahunt has also declined to provide details of police response.
His office has refused to release the 911 tapes because they are
"sensitive investigatory materials."
No explanation has been given for the existence of two different
descriptions of the gunman.
Sentiment is beginning to crystallize here for an independent
people's inquiry into the clinic murders, led by representatives
of the women's and pro-choice movement and other leaders in the
If it had full subpoena powers, such an inquiry could help
uncover the truth--not only about these latest attacks but also
regarding the government's actions, the actions of the
ultra-right, including "Operation Rescue" and other groups that
claim to oppose violence, and their relations to any anti-choice
forces in or out of public office.
UNITE TO FIGHT FASCIST VIOLENCE
The Emergency Mobilization Against Racism issued a statement
right after the killings saying they were "only the most recent
in a national terrorist movement aimed not only at denying women
their basic rights to control their bodies but to life itself."
The EMAR statement laid the responsibility for the attacks not
only on the alleged shooter but on the political forces that
produced him--ultra-rightists in Congress like Newt Gingrich, but
also the Clinton White House, with its constant capitulations to
the right-wing forces. Clinton's racist, sexist firing of Dr.
Joycelyn Elders and his treatment of Lani Guinier egged on the
This administration, the statement continued, has failed to
provide the health-care plan it promised, or the child-care,
housing or welfare benefits. Clinton's deep cuts to social
programs of vital need to women and their children creates the
climate in which these criminal acts occur.
The EMAR statement concluded: "Last May 7, when the racist
Nazi/Klan Nationalist Movement appeared at South Boston High
School, we saw that these same 'Right to Life' forces were with
them. Their program is a key component of the Nazis' platform.
"However, on that day EMAR organized over 700 multi-national
protesters. Women and men, unionists, unemployed, lesbians, gay
men, and transgendered, African American, Latino, Native, Cape
Verdean, Haitian and Irish, Jewish, young and old, students,
bikers, clergy and welfare-rights leaders joined in a march to
South Boston High to confront the tiny handful of racist,
anti-choice Nazis. It will be this kind of united movement that
will put a stop to sexist violence and the oppression of women."
(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted
if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World,
55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)