The clinic escort training was a wonderful experience and the people who attended are now able to volunteer as escorts for women’s health clinics around the DC area!! If you were not able to attend the meeting but would like to learn more about the clinic escort training, you can go to the WACDTF website and see all the information they have to offer, including other training sessions you may attend.
On Thursday, May 10, 2012, starting at 8 pm, we will be showing 12th and Delaware at George Mason!
We are working with NARAL to expose Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Showing this film is a great way to enlighten the public and pave the way to remove their presence from GMU. We have reserved the Johnson Center Cinema, on the Fairfax campus.
As of now, we want to keep the event exclusive for the George Mason community, in case a pro-life third-party organization decides to intrude and negatively affect our efforts. However, this could change between now and then, so keep following our posts for updates. If you would like this event to be open to all, let us know at GMUPatriotsforchoice@gmail.com, or comment on this post with your opinions, so we can gauge who else outside the Mason community might want to attend.
After the counter-protest we lead against the Genocide Awareness Project, the Washington Post published an article about us. Now George Mason’s newspaper, the Broadside, has also written an article about us. However, like the Post article, it is very skewed toward the conservative side. While it is more unbiased–which isn’t saying much–it still contains plenty of misinformation.
For instance, Students for Life is not a legitimate organization at George Mason. It does contain a few people that matriculate here, but it is not recognized by the University. More so, the article does not include why we consider the comparison between abortion and genocide to be ludicrous or what information we supplied for the students. Not to mention the fact that the author misquoted our organization president, Lily Bolourian. Meanwhile, they spend most of the time getting Anna Maher’s thoughts on the subject, who is the unofficial Students for Life president.
Finally, the comparison between sending an invitation to a third-party organization to visually assault the George Mason students and staff, to the civil rights efforts by Martin Luther King, Jr., is incredibly offensive–obscene, really–and completely unacceptable. Needless to say, the editors of the Broadside are going to get many letters of complaint.
One such letter to the editor has been written by our organization president, Lily Bolourian, herself! Click here to read it and see what she had to say.
What Happened when the Genocide Awareness Project Visited George Mason
Barely 7 in the morning, inappropriately dressed for the morning chill, a handful of young feminists marched onto the North Plaza of our beloved school, George Mason University, armed with markers, posters honoring fallen heroes in the fight for reproductive emancipation, and the impenetrably strong spirit of the feminists who bled and fought before us. We knew that we were in for a big battle against a very well-funded group.
We were informed that the Genocide Awareness Project was coming to our campus only a week and a half before they came. Immediately, we knew what must be done. We contacted various social justice groups on campus and were upset when we saw how apathetic many were. This group likens a woman’s right to choose to genocide! They have several feet tall graphic visual displays of so-called aborted fetuses (they cannot provide information as to where these pictures come from which is fascinating to me) and victims of the Holocaust, Cambodian killing fields, Rwandan genocide, lynchings, and breasts that are consumed with cancer. What is there to be apathetic about? We eventually swallowed our disappointments and organized at the grassroots level on our own. The anti-abortion lobby has big money backers and a lot of support from religious institutions. The George Mason Patriots for Choice did not even have the time to apply for school funding. We relied on our own (very shallow) pockets and bought materials on a college student’s budget. We would not let lack of funding stop us from securing our campus as a safe zone for all. No way.
Seeing their displays and propaganda made me burn from the inside out with frustration. How dare they compare a medical procedure to the massacre that so many underwent in Germany? Women are not Nazis. Abortion doctors are not Dr. Mengele. Abortion doctors are heroes. The murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist while Dr. Tiller was serving as an usher in church was a shocking reminder of how dangerous rhetoric and hate speech can be. Dr. Tiller and virtually every other abortion provider has been targeted in smear campaigns and in rallies by the anti-abortion lobby. Likening abortion doctors to “mass murderers” and releasing their home addresses to the public is reckless and unconscionable. Our Patriots for Choice table included a tribute to the late Dr. Tiller, as well as statistics on abortion clinic violence. Many asked, “why haven’t we heard about all of this violence?” The “feminists are radical and insane” narrative is a lot more convenient for the mainstream media.
Finally, when the sun came up, students began filing into the North Plaza on their way to class or to grab a bite to eat. They were met with the graphic images. Many walked by, shaking their heads, grabbing literature that the antis were distributing and throwing it immediately away. Patriots for Choice had set up right across from them and the Pride Alliance right next to us. We knew students would be upset and there is nothing worse than being angry about something and feeling as if nothing could be done. That is where our petition came in. Nearly 1,000 students signed our petition condemning the imagery and the false notion that the words abortion and genocide even belong in the same dictionary. But that’s not all they did. Simply by standing there with music and signs, we began to receive donations from students. Students! Students are not eager to part with the few dollars that they have but this week outrage outweighed being frugal. We had created about thirty buttons the first day expecting absolutely no one to purchase them and were astounded when they sold out within two hours of setting up. After that, students, faculty, and staff just began donating directly to our cause. We even had a gentleman hand us a crisp one hundred dollar bill. Many jaws had to be picked up off the floor after that gesture. The amount of support that we had from the community was incredibly humbling. Given that Mason is located in the battleground state of Virginia and the conservative leanings of the University as a whole; it meant so much that there were lines to sign our petitions, hugs and words of encouragement from people from all walks of life, and the mobilization of those who are generally uninterested in the issue of abortion. We were so pleased by the help and support we received on the day of our events from the Pride Alliance, Israel Club, Hillel, College Democrats, Feminist Student Organization, and many others. In the end, our University united against the inappropriate message the Genocide Awareness Project wanted to send. As a woman of color, I wanted to see more inclusion in our events. We have a committee dedicated to maximizing woman of color membership and inclusion. We hope that we can reach out to WOC students on campus in an effort to be truly feminist.
The antis thought that they had won this battle but their very presence on our campus has caused our organization to grow larger than ever before. It has given us the strength, drive, and a sense of duty to continue fighting for a woman’s right to choose on and off campus. As long as there are those who want to infringe on reproductive freedom, the George Mason Patriots for Choice will be there to drive them out.
This was just one battle in the country-wide war on women. People often ask, “where are the young feminists?” I’ll tell you where. We are on the front lines. We are making change happen from the ground up. Young feminists won this battle on our campus.
President, Patriots for Choice
Hello Pro-Choice Activists!
This week has been great for making the pro-choice voice heard on George Mason’s campus. As choice has been attacked, we have been present to show that we will always be a voice for women. By standing up for choice, we are standing up for all women everywhere.
With all of the threats to birth control and abortion access, it is more important than ever to get involved with Patriots for Choice. “But how are you all working to protect choice?” You ask. Well the answer is this: we will soon be trained clinic escorts!
Clinic defense is an extremely important component of protecting choice for women. Women’s health centers are often the location of anti-choice activity, including protesters who try to talk women out of receiving abortions. We need to volunteer to escort women receiving services at these clinics to ensure that the experience walking into the clinic is peaceful and free of conflict. Anti-choice protesters stand outside of clinics, harassing women coming to the clinic. Our job will be to protect these women and to ensure that clinics stay open.
Next week, a representative from the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force will be at our meeting to hold clinic-escort training. We will learn the most effective ways to counter the attacks of the anti-choice demonstrators.
In the midst of a horrible attack on a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin, in which the bomber justified is attack by saying he did it because “they are killing babies in here,” now is a crucial time for everyone to become active in the pro-choice movement. Although many anti-choice activists condemn clinic violence, the scare tactics used to denounce abortion create a climate in which attacks on abortion are able to flourish. We need to work to erase the stigma surrounding abortion by becoming clinic escorts and expanding a woman’s right to choose.
Take a stand against this violence! Take a stand against the religious right! Come to our meeting next week at 8p.m. in SUB I, meeting room 3B.
We covered a lot of information at this meeting, so bare with me, folks.
At this week’s meeting, we discussed the success of our counter-protest and shared stories of our experiences while participating. We also want to hear about your experiences, so if you would like to share your story from the counter-protest, email us at GMUPatriotsforchoice@gmail.com and we will post it on this site!
Next, Ashton, the Women of Color Committee Chair, talked about how she has been reaching out to minority women. She is going to the Black Student Alliance meeting next week to get the word out about our organization in the hopes that their group and ours can get together and discuss reproductive rights. Also, Taylor, the LGBTQ Committee Chair, said that the Fairfax LGBTQ Democrats are having their first meeting next week and she will be attending and forming connections with them. Moreover, we want to connect with the LGBTQ community at George Mason, so many of us will be at the Drag Show tonight. If you wish to help with any of these outreach endeavors, please send us an email with your suggestions!
More on getting our name out, we are going to be at the Spring Preview Yard Fest make group known to the incoming freshmen. We will be selling shirts, wire-hanger necklaces and buttons. If you would like to come out and join us, the event will be at the SUB I quad on Sunday, April 15, 2012 from 10:30 am to 2 pm.
We also want to book Kiosks in the JC because we got a lot of people that way in the beginning of the semester. If you would like to help out at the kiosks, send us an email of when you can work it so we can figure out times to book them!
We had a change in our leadership positions and we are proud to announce that Madeleine Ferrerosa is officially our new Treasurer!
Finally, a little about the events we plan to have next:
Next week’s meeting we will have a representative from the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force coming in to train us so that we will be eligible to escort women going to local clinics for services. It will teach us lots of peaceful presence techniques and it should be really fun, so please come out next week in SUB I Meeting room 3B and join us! See what Co-vice President Janelle Germanos has to say about it.
The week after, on April 19th , starting at 8 pm, we are planning to show the movie 12th and Delaware in the JC Cinema. NARAL is working with us to expose Crisis Pregnancy Centers, so it will be good to show this film and pave the way to remove their presence from GMU. Let us know if this day and time works for you.
We are going to apply for a panel for the NOW conference in June, and we are going to lead a rally on the GMU Fairfax Campus next Fall. We will connect with speakers who support our cause, as well as other George Mason organizations, for the rally. We will have more information on these later, but in the meantime, if you know of anyone who would speak on our behalf at the rally, let us know!
Thank you all for your support!
The Washington Post even wrote an article about us! Granted, it is quite obviously skewed to the anti-choice side and a lot of its information is incorrect, but the fact that we got that much notice that our story was reported is a great feat in itself. Our president of Patriots for Choice, Lily Bolourian, was even quoted in the article! Although, I think reading what she herself has to say about the event is a lot more informative.
Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, Delegate Herring was not able to come out and support our cause, but we are planning on having an event in the Fall that she can hopefully attend and speak for us then.
We have pictures from the event on our Facebook page, so feel free to look through them and see all the incredible people that came out and supported us!
Lastly, we want to hear about your experiences from the counter protest. Email us at GMUPatriotsforchoice@gmail.com with your thoughts and the name by which you wish to be referred, and we will add it as a post to this site.
Thank you, everyone, for coming out and showing your support!
First of all, here is the official information about the Genocide Awareness Project‘s schedule for Monday and Tuesday. They are planning on displaying their offensive images from 7 am to 4 pm on Monday and Tuesday, and possibly later in the day once they see that we will be there to oppose their message. They are also planning on talking with every person who walks by their mural, so there is a high probability that they will instigate and provoke people to lash out at them so they can press charges–they are very proud of doing this. We all have to remember that although what they are saying is unjust, unfounded and racist, we all have to stay calm! The better we are at keeping our cool, the more of an impact we will have on the GAP, as well as on the George Mason Students for Life–they were the organization that invited them to the Fairfax campus in the first place. Our schedule will mostly stay the same, except now we need to make sure we have people at our stations as early as 7 am on both days, so if you are available at that time, please come by and help us!
Now for some great news: While at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference on Saturday, March 31, we met a wonderful woman by the name of Charniele Herring, who is the Delegate for Alexandria, VA, and who used to matriculate at George Mason University. We informed her about the GAP’s presence on campus on Monday and Tuesday and inquired her availability to come out in support of our opposing rally on Tuesday. The incredible thing is she said that she may come out and speak on our behalf! Now, this is still very tentative, but once we flesh out the details with her, we will let you all know when she is coming. This could be the thing that legitimizes our efforts and shows George Mason that we are all serious in keeping the GAP’s offensive images off our campus! So please keep your fingers crossed and continue to check for new posts.
At the meeting, we discussed the following regarding the Peaceful Protest we are leading next week:
The Genocide Awareness Project will be here Monday and Tuesday, and other campuses have shown that they are usually here from about 9 am to 6 pm. Most of the students at our University (all 31,800 of them) most likely are not aware that they are coming, and will be very upset. Remember: we are trying to create a peaceful presence and set a positive example.
MONDAY April 2nd- We will be located at the George Mason Statue, because PRIDE will be in the Plaza. This is our first day to make a big impression, so we need as much help as we can get! Feel free to stop by and bring any posters, signs or sharpies. There will be a table set up for our cause.
TUESDAY April 3rd- We will have the George Mason Statue AND the Plaza/clock area reserved for us. We will also have tables and our own music! At least 2 people on each side will be needed to watch the tables.
In addition to Patriots for Choice, other organizations will also be there to show their disapproval of the message portrayed by the GAP. As mentioned in previous post, this is not an issue about being Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, this is an issue regarding the unjustified and insulting comparison between abortion and genocide. So please come out and show your support, no matter what your views are on abortion.
If you are available at any time from 9 am to 6 pm on either Monday or Tuesday, please email us your availability! We will need people to:
~Escort / Warn students
~Hand out our flyers
~Encourage students to sign our petition
~Invite students to sign posters and voice themselves
~Represent our organization and campus in general.
If you have a friend (or an organization!) who would like to help out and stand with us, please refer them to our email and have them send us availability. We need as many people as possible to let the GAP know that what they will show on campus is not acceptable to the student body.
Comment here, send a Facebook message or EMAIL AT: GMUPatriotsForChoice@gmail.com
The Genocide Awareness Project is a discriminatory photo-mural exhibition that travels to campuses, comparing abortions to real victims of genocide. They came to GMU in 2003 and are scheduled to return next week. You may click this link to learn more about the group: http://www.abortionno.org/GAP/gmu.html
Join Patriots for Choice, as well as other Social Justice groups on campus, as we peacefully protest the GAP’s presence and keep George Mason a safe space for everyone. It is not okay to use genocides to back up your political or religious agenda!
The protest takes place on the North Plaza on Fairfax campus. It starts on April 2 at 10 am, and it will end on April 3 at 9 pm. This will be a peaceful gathering in the same area as the GAP mural. This group is known for suing, so if you come by, please be careful and do not antagonize them.
It doesn’t matter if you are Pro-Choice or Pro-Life.
If you agree that abortion is not genocide and should not be compared to the Holocaust…
If you believe people should not be subjected to the visual obscenities portrayed in the GAP murals…
if you can,
come out and show your support.