Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org


To: 23 grassroots pro-abortion organizers who denounce Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

I am making this statement as an individual. My accounts of the work that the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC) have done with the RCP are given solely for the purpose of giving an eyewitness account to give you a fuller picture of the RCP and to directly refute many, if not all, of the charges you made.

Before you seek to defame and cast out Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights on serious (but unproven) charges of being a cult and a pyramid scheme which diverts money from social and racial justice movements, you need to seek out the experiences of non-communist feminists who have worked with the Revolutionary Communist Party, (RCP), such as myself. As an anti-racist activist since 1965, and a feminist pro-abortion activist since 1969, I have first-hand experience with the RCP since the 1970’s which refute these charges. As the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC), we have worked with the RCP and with its various ad hoc committees on many occasions and on many social justice issues.

I’ve observed that the RCP often establishes ad hoc grassroots groups to fight on various issues, such as police abuse, abortion rights, and suppression of opponents to the Iranian regime. Non-communists are welcomed to work within or work closely with these groups. The RCP shares its literature and encourages discussion, but there is no pressure to adopt communism or Bob Avakian’s teachings. I have read many of Bob Avakian’s writings, heard him speak and watched his filmed talks. I find them interesting and thoughtful.

The FWHCs, which were founded in the early 70’s, also incorporated issues that were not directly related to the running of our women’s health centers. No one accused us of “glomming on” to these issues, such as home birth, forced sterilization, police abuse, and anti-Muslim violence. And, as regards being a pyramid scheme, RCP-sponsored Refuse and Resist for many years who escorted abortion clients through heavy weekly picket lines at the Eve’s Clinic in El Monte, California and later at the FPA clinic on Westmoreland Avenue. This clearly did not have their bottom line increased.

In 1979, I was a member of the Committee to Send Back the Shah. I, and Rebecca Chalker, also of the FWHC, travelled with the Committee to Iran. The FWHC’s also worked with RCP committees who fought against police abuse, and escorted at abortion clinics. The activities of these ad-hoc groups were mostly funded by donations from the sale of the RCP newspaper. I saw no evidence of large donations from anyone. After our Los Angeles health center closed, I joined Sunsara Taylor in Texas on the Stop Patriarchy tour. We slept on the motel floor and cooked our own meals.

Bob Avakian believes that a communist revolution is needed and that their dedicated efforts will make it possible. RCP members accordingly devote every minute after work hours to make it happen. I believe that females working together can eventually achieve equality, and the resulting egalitarian society will revolutionize the world.

I have personally known many RCP members for years. They definitely do not behave like someone belonging to a cult. They are educated, thinking political activists that are working toward establishing a communist society, and they like Avakian’s approach. They take on various issues because they feel strongly about the rights of the poor and the working class, and the rights of women, and they believe that working on the specific issues builds toward a revolution. They don’t “glom on” to these issues because they are popular or to exploit them.

Stop trying to keep people from associating with Rise Up, because you disagree with tactics you consider “theatrical” that alarm people about abortion. I have always believed that it is counter-productive to use coat-hanger imagery, however, many abortion rights advocates find the specter of “back-alley abortions” to be a strong argument for keeping abortion legal. If we threw out everybody who comes to a demonstration or starts a pro-abortion group on such debatable differences, we’d have a very small movement.

Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights has indisputably attracted a great deal of public attention. Their focus on their outrage may make some people uncomfortable, but remember that bold action can be part of successful protest and even the seizing of power.

You may be respectful of the rights of free speech, however there are many in our country who are not. Many equate “communism” with “un-American” and want to persecute and outlaw communists. Your ill-founded attack has enabled opportunistic so-called reporters to build a firestorm of criticism against the RCP and Rise Up4 Abortion Rights. Could it be that you’re concerned that wealthy philanthropists who financially support grassroots efforts such as yours will be scared to associate with a movement that includes communist groups?

The string of decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in June, 2022 heralds a trend toward outright fascism in this country. Those decisions reveal the ruling class’ overall plan to maintain Western white supremacy and rampant industrialization by destroying sexual and reproductive rights, by doing away with federal regulation on fossil fuels, by unleashing gun violence and by encouraging police abuse on those who protest, especially poor people and people of color. I urge you to keep up your own valuable work and to be inclusive of all who are working for the common goal of protecting our environment, our sexual and reproductive rights and a more equal society.

Carol Downer
Life-Long Fierce Advocate for Reproductive Rights