Gweneth Dietrich/Rose May Dance

Gweneth Dietrich, known to many of her friends as Rose May Dance, was an activist for peace, social and environmental justice throughout her life. She made mutual aid, solidarity and protesting creative, fun and spiritual She was loved for her bawdy humor, breaking into song or poetry, extravagant dress and hats, community celebrations, psychic and magical acumen, and much more.

Rose grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and became involved in activism against the Vietnam war as a teenager. During her college years, she drove women to Canada, where they could obtain legal abortions. She moved to the Bay Area in 1975, and one of her first jobs was mapping toxic sites, which led to a lifetime of environmental justice work.

photo of Rose

She worked for twenty years in the Harm Reduction Movement, counseling active and recovering injection drug users. She trained and counseled the counselors and street outreach workers at the Urban Health Study in San Francisco in “how to reach the hard to reach.” She also used that environment as a crucible for developing methods to overcome burnout as well as to create healing ways for healers.

In 1988, Rose was one of the public health activists to found the San Francisco needle exchange, known as Prevention Point. The program, started as a direct action with no public support, revolutionized HIV/AIDS prevention services and became a model for the rest of the country. When consulted by friends who were planning to start the Seattle needle exchange a year later, Rose told them, “It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

In the early 1980s, Rose helped to found Reclaiming, an organization dedicated to feminist, earth-centered activism and spirituality. She co-developed hundreds of rituals over the years as well as many classes, songs, chants and liturgies. She taught magic and ritual activism all over the world.

She was a master hypnotist and certified hypnotherapist, working at Harborside Health Center, in Oakland. On her hypnotherapy website, she wrote, “The focus of my hypnotherapy practice is both practical and spiritual. For meaningful growth in our lives, we need both bread and roses — food for the true body and the body of down-to-earth matters, and food for the spirit and dreams.”

She was deeply committed to active nonviolence and was arrested dozens of times protesting militarism, racism and environmental destruction. One of her cousins wrote, “Gwennie normalized the act of protest for me from the time I was little. She protested as an act of faith. She protested at the beginning of each war the US participated in and I remember her modeling standing up to the system when she chained herself to the School of Americas to protest the teaching of war.”

She raised a queer kid with total openness and support, and opened her home to numerous other kids who needed a safe and loving place to be. She was an adoptive parent, and had a child from whom she was separated by adoption for many years. They later connected and she developed a close relationship. She had two granddaughters.

Gweneth/Rose died on New Year’s Eve, and we know she would have loved to know that every year, people will be partying on the day of her death. As someone who loved to wear pink, she would also be happy to have died on the same day as Betty White. She was no saint, and she could be infuriating, but she’s mourned by hundreds of close friends, students, mentees, initiates, colleagues and co-resisters who carry her in our hearts.

What is remembered lives.

10 Facts About Abortion Rights

The supreme kkkourt just heard arguments about the Mississippi law banning abortion after about 15 weeks from the start of a person’s last menstrual period. The law’s very likely to be upheld, and it could lead to a decision overturning Roe v. Wade altogether. Contrary to what you might have heard, that doesn’t mean abortion will be outlawed nationally. It means that states will be able to outlaw all, some or most abortion care. States have been chipping away at abortion rights since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, preventing any federal funds from being used for abortion services. Abortion care is already very difficult to access and it will get worse. It will not, however, go away, and there is a lot we can (and must) do to preserve it.

Here are a few facts:

  • Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal. It made it illegal for states to unduly restrict it. By that time, six states already had legal abortion, including New York and California.
  • 17 states have passed laws restricting or eliminating abortion, which will go into effect as soon as Roe is overturned.
  • Six states, including California, have laws to protect the right to reproductive choice.
  • 90% percent of US counties currently have no abortion provider, and nearly 40% of reproductive age women live in those counties.
  • Only 15 states provide public financing for abortion (meaning, you can use your Medicaid for abortion).
  • In 2014, 53% of abortion patients paid out of pocket for the procedure, which costs an average of $508 in the first trimester. 50% of women seeking abortion fall below the federal poverty level.
  • Medication (as opposed to surgical) abortions accounted for 39% of all abortions in 2017.
  • The majority of medication abortions are offered in specialized clinics (as are surgical abortions). In 2017, 30% of clinics provided only medication abortion.
  • Almost every state has at least one abortion fund, which helps women get the care they need. Many funds also help arrange travel or places for people to stay if they have to go out of town to get care. Find out who is doing this work in your area at abortionfunds.org. They all need money and most also need volunteers.
  • Donating and offering rides and housing is not enough. The right to the health care we choose is a political issue. Visible outrage and determination are essential. Protest and action do matter, even in “blue states” where abortion rights are safe.

ABORTION ON DEMAND WITHOUT APOLOGY – WE WON’T GO BACK

Events

March for Our Reproductive Rights

Saturday, October 2, 2021

11:00 AM  12:30 PM

Line up at Grove & Hyde St, near Civic Center Area
March will be down Market Street to Embarcdero

There will be NO rally or speakers before or after the march

Masks will be Required

Practice Social Distancing

Bring your family, friends, signs, water, mask, check the weather and dress with layers and comfy shoes

#ProChoice #MarchForOurRights #MarchForReproductiveJustice

Patricia Maginnis

photo

Patricia Maginnis died August 30. She was 93 and had lived a long life of fighting for every woman’s right to control her own body and her own destiny. Also known as Patricia, God The Mother, Pat was the quintessential sacrilegious anti-catholic.  She wanted more than reform, she wanted a whole system overhaul.  Pat was a laboratory technician and one of the founders of the Society for Humane Abortion (SHA) in 1962 in San Francisco. Lana Phelan and Rowena Gurner were the other members of the “Army of Three.”

The SHA sought to repeal abortion laws, endorse elective abortions, and offer women any resources it could in the meantime. These resources would come to include “the List,” an up-to-date directory of safe abortion specialists outside the country, classes on DIY abortions, and symposia where sympathetic doctors could confer with each other about the safest and best abortion techniques. More than that, the SHA was the very first American organization to advocate a pro-choice position that centered the woman, instead of the legal dilemmas of the physician—specifically, her right to privacy and choice. Rejecting the gatekeeping protocols, the committees and evaluations and red tape, the only question anyone should ask prior to approving an abortion was a simple one: whether the woman wanted it or not.

In her 20’s, Pat joined the Women’s Army Corps and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina until she was spotted walking with a black soldier: The captain told her she was setting a bad example for other young white women and she was shipped off to Panama as punishment.

During those two years in Central America, she experienced a different kind of discrimination. She’d trained as a surgical technician, but she was assigned to the pediatrics and obstetrics wards. There, she was exposed to women suffering from botched abortions, women being forced to give birth, infants with terrible abnormalities. What she didn’t get in surgical experience, she got in perspective. “A general overview of the status of women,” Pat said in an interview with Slate in 2018. “And I wasn’t at all happy with it.”

In 1967, the DA of San Mateo County threatened to arrest anyone disseminating information about abortion so the “Army of Three” immediately scheduled classes on abortion rights. Pat and Rowena were arrested, convicted and sent to jail. Their conviction was overturned in 1973.

Alternative newspapers called her “the Che Guevara of abortion reformers.” Her ideas certainly went beyond the calls for incremental reform made by establishment groups like Planned Parenthood.

Once the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women had a constitutional right to abortion, Pat rechanneled her activism to other issues, including gay rights and animal welfare. She also staged regular protests against the Catholic Church, criticizing its anti-abortion policies and demanding accountability in cases of sexual abuse by priests. Kate remembers seeing Pat, already in her 80’s, standing in front of the Cathedral of the Light in Oakland handing out pamphlets with her own funny and slightly lewd cartoons.

Tory says, “I remember doing abortion clinic defense in Oakland with Pat God The Mother Maginnis in the 1990’s.  One particular time I took a flying leap spectacularly breaking my wrist, in an effort to defend someone trying to access the clinic from an evil anti abortion fanatic.  Ever after that when I ran into Pat for many years, she always inquired after my wrist, fussing over me, treating me with revered respect for being a fallen soldier in the battle to save abortion.”

Barbara Hoke, an old friend of Pat said, “A precious friend and Feminist icon is gone. Patricia T Maginnis gave her all in the fight for women’s freedom, worked in the trenches protecting animals, fought racism and homophobia, lived a consistently righteous life with humor that brought the haters to their knees. The world is less friendly without you, Pat.”

graphic
cartoons by Patricia Maginnis

Free Abortion on Demand

by Deeg

Although both my mother and I were/are lifelong activists/revolutionaries, I only ever went on two demonstrations with her. The first, which I’ll explain later, was when I was 12 in 1963, and demanded desegregation of new york city’s specialized public high schools. The second was in 1970, and was the last big abortion demonstration in new york before the state legislature legalized abortion. Until her death, my mother remained an abortion rights activist.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, from January 1 to May 31 of this year, twelve states have passed a total of 26 laws, which did things like banning abortions at any time in the pregnancy except where the person’s life was at risk (alabama), to banning the use of medical instruments to perform abortions, to bans at six weeks, 8 weeks, 18 weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Some additional bans will be triggered automatically if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

And still, on May 21, I was one of less than 500 people who attended a noon rally at the SF city hall steps, that was one of the over 400 “Stop the Bans” nationwide protests that day. The speeches were good in SF – a speaker from the SF Human Rights Commission comparing forced pregnancy to pregnancy forced on enslaved Black women in this country. But still, less than 500 people in SF? Less than a thousand in Seattle? There were over 100,000 people on that 1970 march in NYC.  

photo of abortion rights demo c.1971
Demonstrators demanding a woman’s right to choose march to the U.S. Capitol for a rally seeking repeal of all anti-abortion laws in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 1971. On the other side of the Capitol was a demonstration held by those who are against abortion. (AP Photo)

The struggle for abortion was a sentinel struggle of the 1960s movements for social justice, and many of us in the UV community participated in it. It still seems incredible that anyone would think that they had a right to determine what a woman, or any person with a uterus, did with that uterus, but until 1967 no state recognized a person’s right to have an abortion. In 1967 Colorado became the first state to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or in which pregnancy would lead to “permanent physical disability.” This law was quickly followed by similar actions in California, Oregon, and North Carolina. In 1970, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortions on demand. New york state repealed its abortion law in 1970 permitting abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy. That year, Washington State became the first state to legalize early term abortions through a referendum.

The movement for abortion embodied many of the challenges in the women’s movement at the time. Was the fight only about legalizing abortion for the mostly white women who could afford it, or was the movement was about reproductive rights, including the right NOT to be forcibly sterilized, a practice that was commonly done to poor women, particularly women of color. Was it about the right to have sufficient guaranteed income that a person could actually make a choice to have a child? Did it include the sexual and reproductive rights of lesbians? Did it include an acknowledgement and reparations for Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s collusion with Gregory Pinkus and G.D. Searle pharmaceuticals (now owned by Pfizer) in the experimentation they had conducted on women in Puerto Rico in the 1950s in the development of the birth control pill?

Some of this came to a head at the Women’s National Abortion Action Coalition meeting in 1971. WONAAC, led by the socialist workers party and the national organization for women, refused to include “free abortion on demand” and a demand for lesbian rights (the “fourth demand”) in their platform although they did include “no forced sterilization” and an end to abortion laws.

Although most histories focus on legislative and legal struggles for abortion rights, it was actually the direct actions and demonstrations of women’s liberation movement that pushed this issue. People disrupted health care institutions and government and blocked streets and public buildings. Women’s self-help groups like the Jane collective in Chicago, and the Our Bodies Our Selves collective in Boston provided information about birth control and abortion, and in some cases performed procedures. All around the country, and the world, gender queer as well as woman-identified women were taking out speculums, mirrors and flashlights looking at their own, and each other’s cervixes (cervices?). With the invention and popularization of the vacuum cannula, first trimester abortion became a reality in many cities and towns, with or without legalization.  This movement both grew out of, and was a motive force behind, a lot of other movements for racial, gender and sexual self-determination including the lesbian and gay liberation movement.  The women’s movement and the LGBTQQI movements shared not only their challenges to gender roles and the nuclear family, but also the demand that the government keep their laws and hands off our bodies and lives.

Roe v. Wade was not some misguided activist judges permitting the “slaughter” of “millions of innocents” nor was it the kindness of liberals in preventing the deaths of desperate women through incompetent abortions. Roe v. Wade was the quickest way for the patriarchy to try to contain a movement that was threatening to take down a lot of institutions.

Abortion Restrictions

In 1974, the first federal bill restricting access to abortion was introduced, but it wasn’t until 1976 that the “hyde amendment” was passed, forbidding most federal funding for abortion. Because of court challenges, it didn’t take effect until 1980. Between Roe v. Wade’s legalization of abortion in 1973 until 1980, the joint federal-state Medicaid program was paying for roughly 300,000 abortions annually. Currently, 17 states pay for abortions through state-only Medicaid funding, including California. The hyde amendment only permits federal funding for abortion where the pregnancy endangers the person’s life, or is the result of rape or incest.

The hyde amendment is a rider on the health and human services budget, and has to be renewed every year. In voting for the budget, pro-abortion legislators like Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Kamala Harris, have been voting for the rider. But among the 24 announced democratic candidates for president (so far), only joe biden actually supported the amendment, and he affirmed that support as recently as this May. Last week, political pressure forced him to change his position, though not to apologize for supporting it all these years, or for the harm it caused so many poor women.

Other federal laws restrict access to abortion through health insurance. From 1983 to 1993, as part of the appropriations bill, federal employees were annually banned from choosing a health plan that offered abortion. The democratic majority elected with clinton in 1992 stopped this in 1993-1994, but in 1995 the ban was reinstated, and is still being renewed annually. Currently states can ban affordable care act marketplace insurance that funds abortion.   

Since a 1992 supreme court decision (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) held that states could not impose restrictions on abortion that effectively prevent access, the courts have sometimes upheld requirements such as waiting periods, counseling which may include sonograms and discussions of “fetal pain”, counseling or procedures performed only by a physician, limitations on the type of facility, requirements for parental consent or notice for minors, and permitting physicians or institutions to not perform abortions.  This March, the administration issued a final rule further limiting Title X funding for family planning. This rule, which is part of the defund planned parenthood agenda, may eliminate funding to any organization that provides abortion services, even if those services aren’t provided at a specific clinic, prohibits abortion referrals, requires referral for prenatal services even if the person doesn’t intend to continue the pregnancy, and requires pregnancy counseling to be provided by a doctor or advanced practice professional.  

graphic of book Our Bodies, Ourselves

We have no way of predicting how the new fascist majority on the supreme kkkourt will vote on Roe v. Wade when one of these bans reaches it. Maybe they will continue to peck away at the right to abortion by upholding various restrictions, and maybe they will overturn it completely. At that point, criminalization of abortion will likely revert to the states, although there could be congressional attempts to make it a federal crime.

California is one of several states that protects the right to abortion. In 1972 California voters passed a constitutional right to privacy which has been interpreted to protect abortion rights. A 1981 California Supreme Court decision (Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights v. Myers) overturned state restrictions on Medi-Cal abortions, stating that so long as the program covered pregnancy services, it had to cover abortion. The majority of the court also said that restricting poor women’s access to abortion made them second class citizens.

photo of demo banner: End Homophobia/Queer Liberation

In 2002, The legislature passed the California Reproductive Privacy Act, sponsored by lesbian legislator Sheila Kuehl, which protects the right to abortion and other reproductive health decisions, and officially repealed the 1967 law which had been overturned by Roe v. Wade. But all of this can go away. In 2005, 2006, and 2008 voters rejected initiatives that would have required parental consent. In 2018, a proposed constitutional amendment, the “California Abortion as First-Degree Murder Initiative” failed to gather enough signatures for the ballot. But in California, where it only takes a simple majority on an initiative to change the constitution, while it takes a 2/3 vote to fund schools, there is no sure thing.

Terrorism against abortion providers and clinics, as well as state licensing restrictions, have led to a functional lack of legal abortion services, such as exists in Missouri, where the only abortion provider remains in business only by the grace of a federal injunction. According to the Guttmacher Institute five percent of women in California live in a county with no abortion provider, while 43 percent of Texans are without a provider. Ninety percent of u.s. counties do not have an abortion provider. Organizations such as Access: Women’s Health Justice in the Bay Area are part of a nationwide network trying to maintain abortion access including supporting the travel of either patients or doctors.

Decades ago, the patriarchy offered legalization of abortion, but not equal access, or racial and economic justice. That was Roe. It is to their credit that the main abortion organizations have continued to fight for access in Medicaid and other insurance and fighting the many forms of abortion restrictions. But the small turnout on the Stop the Bans day of action, is evidence that this fight has to get back to the streets and the clinics.

As queers, including lesbians and gender queers who have never been at risk of pregnancy (except perhaps, through the dreaded parthenogenesis), we have a tremendous stake in the outcome of this abortion battle.

The NYC Specialized High Schools

Oh, and about specialized high schools in new york. In the early 1960’s as legal segregation was being challenged in southern states, the civil rights movement took on de facto segregation in northern cities. Often school segregation was due to housing segregation, and the movement to integrate schools involved bussing, and then magnet schools.

New york city had specialized high schools which admitted students city-wide based on examinations. There were three science focused high schools – Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and the Bronx High School of Science. Only Science admitted girls. Science was also, not coincidentally, the high school that Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), one of the early Black Power leaders attended. I started at Science in 1965, the first year in which the school was required to admit 10 percent (100) Black students.  This policy continued for many years, and the student body became more diverse, through about 1982 when Black and Latino/Puerto Rican enrollment started to decline. The percentage of Black students has now fallen to 3 percent at Science, 6 percent at Brooklyn Tech, and 1 percent at Stuyvesant, although in 1980 Black enrollment at Brooklyn Tech was 35 percent. One cause for this is that students from middle and upper middle class families are now preparing for these high school entrance exams through expensive preparatory classes. Another factor is that enrichment programs in low income, Black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods have been discontinued. This is the basis for deblasio’s proposal to eliminate the entrance exams.