Organizing for the Future
The "Abortion Rap" workshops use history to encourage reproductive freedom activists to envision what they really want, and to empower them to take action to get it. If you would like to do your own workshop, you might find some of these suggestions useful.
First, group members will need to arrive at a common starting point. If the group is small and the participants don't know one another, you will probably want to have a "go around" so that each woman can introduce herself, explain what her interests are, and indicate what she hopes to get out of the meeting. If the group is very big, you—or whoever is facilitating—will need to get things started. To help promote the idea that it is your right to envision what you really want, I suggest starting by showing the film "With a Vengeance" (See Resources). "With a Vengeance" is based on the "Abortion Rap" workshops and is ideally suited to this purpose. If you decide not to show the film, you might want to read a short section from this pamphlet that grabs you. Or you can simply spend more time talking about what is going on in your community, how it makes you feel, and why you have come to this meeting. One way or another, you will need to set up some kind of orientation.
When I do workshops, I like to spend some time hearing from each woman who wants to speak about all the ways that the right to control her own body is not respected. This can be a good time to share abortion stories, but I also encourage women to talk about rape, incest, street harassment, birth control, treatment from doctors, forced abortion, childcare... whatever. If you use a blackboard or a large piece of paper taped to the wall and a bunch of magic markers, and you make a laundry list of all the things women talk about, you will begin to locate abortion rights within the larger context of each woman's right to control her own body and her own life. This is the meaning of reproductive freedom.
Next, I like to spend some time brainstorming about what each woman wants abortion policy—and the abortion experience—to be. This is where your mind-expanding introduction will come in handy. Most of us have never been asked—even by pro-choice organizations—