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By: 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 Brookline, Mass. 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 wounded. 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 clinic. 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 duties. MOVEMENT RESPONDS 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 attacks. 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 health-care rights. 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 women's rights." 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 legalizing abortion. 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 reactionary forces. 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 threats. 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 Massachusetts. 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 questions. 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 community. 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 reactionaries. 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." -30- (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:


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