Voices: We stripped down at Joel Osteen’s megachurch to protest for abortion rights. This is who we are

·3-min read

Last Sunday, May 29, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights held an emergency national organizing summit. In her introduction, the organization’s co-founder Sunsara Taylor challenged us to move from shock at the news about Roe to action; from “How dare the Supreme Court overturn abortion rights?” to “We must dare to rise up in our millions in nonviolent protest to stop them.”

One week later, on June 4, a group of us jumped up in Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Megachurch in Houston and took it upon ourselves to dare.

We stripped down to our underwear and yelled out, “My body, my choice!” and “Overturn Roe? Hell no!” while one of us filmed the whole thing. Our underpants were smeared with red paint because when abortion is illegal, women die from desperate measures to end their unwanted pregnancies. The green handprints on our bras and the green bandanas we held honored the “Green Wave” — La Marea Verde — which brought millions of women and others into the streets throughout Latin America and has been winning abortion rights in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico.

For decades, hardline Christian churches have been organizing and indoctrinating people against abortion, intruding into women’s private lives, harassing us at abortion clinics, and shaming us for our bodies and our sexuality. Now, religious zealots sit in a far-right conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

We bear no illusions that a single disruption in a church, or even tens of thousands in the streets just once or twice, will stop the Supreme Court from overturning abortion rights, as a leaked draft decision revealed they were on track to do. But millions and millions of people support abortion rights, and in the wake of the leak of Alito’s draft decision, the support for abortion has hit its highest levels in decades. This is true even among many who sit silently in the pews.

If all of us raised our voices; if all us found the ways to nonviolently disrupt business-as-usual; if all of us took up the green bandana of abortion rights, as they did in Latin America; and if all of us put ourselves on the line, knowing that any risk we take is smaller than the nightmare of female enslavement and forced motherhood that is almost guaranteed if we stay silent; then together we could turn the tide. We could create a situation in which even the anti-abortionists on the Supreme Court and in the halls of power would know that they cannot go ahead with their decision. It would be clear to them that if they went forward with ripping away abortion rights in the face of such massive opposition, their Court and perhaps even their system would be stripped of any legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

It is this very thing that won the right to abortion in the first place. It is the power and fury of the people acting together and demanding change that ended Jim Crow segregation and made marriage equality the law of the land. Even the right to vote was won by people in the public square changing the terms of the debate.

There is no “neutral” in this fight. To the thousands of Osteen’s congregants who are pro-choice, and to the millions in this country who support abortion rights, we say: Join us. Act up. Rise up now, because we can win, and our future depends on it.

Julianne D’Eredita and Coco Das are members of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights in Texas

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