Interviewed by Red Phoenix Correspondent, Seattle, Isabelle B.
During the May protests in Seattle against the Roe V. Wade draft decision that would overturn the legal protection of abortion rights, a Red Phoenix correspondent spoke to one of the organizers, Maegan. Maegan is a first year student at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Gender Studies. She has been a student organizer for the organization Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights for several months leading up to the leaked Supreme Court draft. The interview is transcribed below.
RP: The battle for reproductive rights has been going on for decades. Was there an event that made you get involved/when did you get involved?
Maegan: Last October I went to my first Women’s March and if I remember it right it was a rally in response to the Texas abortion restriction law. Being there with other pro-choice individuals made me feel so empowered and kind of opened the doors of what I want to pursue in life. That was actually the reason why I am now majoring in Gender studies at UW. A few months later I heard about another protest happening and this time it was organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. Initially, I had no intentions of being part of the organizing team, I just wanted to be there in solidarity, but then I started to see how little organizations were focused on preventing the Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade. I didn’t like what I was seeing and I wanted to change that to work towards having greater mobilization in the pro-choice community and what greater way to do that than to work with an organization that is already working towards that? Since then I’ve been organizing with the local chapter for Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.
RP: You played an instrumental role in organizing a successful walkout at the University of Washington. What was the general response of the students you heard from?
Maegan: I think that the biggest factor as to why we had such a great turnout for that walkout is because of how angered and disgusted the youth are with the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. Everyone that showed up do not want their dreams or the dreams of the people that they love to be broken just because they couldn’t get an abortion. Everyone that showed up believe that access to a safe abortion is a fundamental right and they want to keep it that way.
RP: What does Roe v. Wade mean to you?
Maegan: Roe v. Wade isn’t just about having access to abortion. This case brought ground to make birth control access, interracial marriage, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQ+ relationship legal. If Roe v. Wade gets overturned it will create a domino effect over the mentioned rights.
RP: There is a large presence of socialists at pro-choice events. What are your thoughts on the intersection of class and reproductive rights?
Maegan: Even right now as abortion is still legal, people with low-income have fewer access to abortion due to geographic reasons, 24 hour waiting period, and unaffordable care. If Roe v. Wade gets overturned, people living in states that will have a total-ban on abortions will have to travel miles and miles away. Although out-of-state funding is an option that doesn’t take care of the hours that they would have to miss from work.
RP: As a student organizer at a university campus, how do you interact with other parts of the community for mobilization?
Maegan: In the past I’ve emailed RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) on my campus and go around campus to hand out flyers about our organization/protests as a form of invitation to join our movement. In the past week I’ve been co-organizing with other UW students and students from Seattle University.
RP: Is there any action from the university administration that you would like to see?
Maegan: We want them to join us in our walkouts, in our rallies, and marches. I also hope for them to help educate the greater student body about this urgent issue.
RP: What do you hope to achieve with walkouts?
Maegan: Our goal is to mobilize the 70% of pro-choice people in this country. To keep them from staying silent. To show the government that overturning Roe v. Wade will anger more than half of this country. We only have till summer before they published the official decision which is why we shouldn’t just wait for November. We shouldn’t prepare for a Post-Roe generation. It’s easier to fight for an already protected right than to start from scratch.
RP: How is your organization supporting people who currently do not have access to abortion, and/or how will you help people when this access is taken away?
Maegan: To be transparent I don’t know the answer to this question, but I will talk to the national organizer and get an answer.
RP: How would you like to see organizations who are not focused solely on reproductive rights support the movement?
Maegan: We want them to join us in the streets.
RP: Why should working people support this movement, even if they are not able to get pregnant?
Maegan: Again I would like to reiterate that Roe v. Wade doesn’t just protect safe and legal abortions. It was because of the penumbra from this case that protects LGBTQ relationships, birth control access, interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage. This fight is not just for childbearing people. This fight isn’t just to protect childbearing people. This is why we have to unite everyone from different perspectives and different viewpoints around the objective of stopping the decimation of this long-established human right.
RP: What, if anything, should be done about anti-abortion organizations? This includes large organizations, such as the Republican Party, and smaller local groups?
Maegan: They’re not really the focus of our group right now. I personally have had civil conversations with some of them (ex. PAAU) and I’ll take a long time before they change their beliefs on abortion. Our main focus is to work with the already pro-choice individuals.
RP: The American Party of Labor believes that reformism and electoralism has failed the working class overall, and we see that reality very clearly with the lack of protection of abortion rights. Do you think there is any place for electoralism and reformism in this struggle? If so, how? If not, where do you think our efforts should be directed?
Maegan: I’m all for elections and voting blue, but that’s way past the time the Supreme Court will release their decision on Roe v. Wade. November would be too late. Now is the time to be out in the streets. To walk out of the confines of this oppressive political atmosphere and show the officials that they won’t get away with this subjugation of our people.
At Seattle Central College on May 14, at 1pm, Rise Up 4 Abortion organized a rally, and is hosting protests every week. You can find them on social media:
Instagram: @rise4abortionrights and @students4abortionrights.
Socialist organizations will be joining them, including the American Party of Labor.