The first time I stood outside of an abortion clinic was in the summer of 2010. Activists like me were spending the week defending a clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina, that had been targeted for a national event by a rowdy anti-choice group called Operation Save America (OSA). The first time I saw these protestors harass people driving into the clinic and women as they walked to the door, it was completely overwhelming. After spending the week with other amazing people countering hate with supportive signs, I knew that I would always want to defend the rights of women seeking abortions and those that work to help them.
Two years later, we are again forced to defend the right to abortion access in Charlotte. OSA has announced its second mass protest in Charlotte this July 21st-28th, calling the event “The King is Coming to the Queen City.” We anticipate that, like last time, OSA will call on masses of protestors to harass women and clinic staff that week. (Their website states that this event is also partly “in preparation for the DNC,” so we expect to be dealing with the similar clinic harassment when the Democratic National Convention meets in Charlotte this September 4-6th.)
OSA is led by Flip Benham, who was convicted of criminal stalking of abortion providers in November of 2010. These are not just ‘nice church folk’ with religious convictions; these people use violent and intrusive behavior (like WANTED posters) to intimidate abortion providers, staff, and patients.
We are hoping to call on our amazing student and community activists in the Charlotte area and beyond to come out between July 21-July 28th and help defend these clinics. We need our community to show their support by maintaining a physical presence and holding pro-choice signs outside of the clinic with us during that week. The University of North Carolina- Charlotte Feminist Union (a FMF affiliate) has been defending these clinics for a while, and we need you to join them!
Please spread the word that we are calling for all pro-choice folk to help defend Charlotte clinics. Come one day out of the week or the whole week; whatever you can do to help! We will also be calling on people to do other things like outreach and legal observation. We have principles that you will be briefed on and expected to adhere to (like non-violence and non-engagement) if you decide to come out. If you are interested, have questions, or want more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to show the OSA and the city of Charlotte that we will stand up for women’s healthcare and their right to access abortion. Please join us to protect abortion access and show the community that we will not stand back and let our rights be taken away.
See you in Charlotte!