Seven Jane members were arrested for performing illegal abortions during the first week of May. Defense of the Abortion 7 was the main topic for this critical CWLU steering meeting).
CWLU Steering Committee Minutes-May 7, 1972
(Editors note: This meeting discussed how the CWLU should help defend the 7 Jane members arrested the previous week for performing illegal abortions.)
R.S. began the meeting with a run down of the public information concerning the Wednesday incident. This will be distributed soon. She went on to say that the people involved have at this point decided to act in a way to assure acquittal, which to them means making a deal, or doing a straight legal case. The evidence points to Wednesday's incident being an accident rather than a conscious political decision, making the two choices seem the safest means. R.S's groups have disbanded as of May 5
C.W. from Fri. nite chapter presented the results of their meeting around the ab. issue. This had been done originally in the hope that a proposal of strategy could be presented to the 7 people for their consideration. It will be summarized briefly:
Three possible strategies
- straight legal case
- political case - challenge the law, mass mobilization of women around issue
The points in favor of number 3 are
a. local base support -many groups sympathetic to issue fund raising, demonstrations organization possibilities
b. J. constituency
c. liberal establishment support - editorials and news coverage have been extremely supportive, many good women reporters to utilize
d. local political conditions - many other groups working to defeat Hanrahan, Democratic Party in trouble - liberals, independents and women gaining offices
e. national sentiment and anti ab. law struggle
f. legal status of law in question - various states have repealed, Bella Abzug proposal to repeal nationwide, lobby in Springfield
The general consensus of the chapter was that political conditions were ripe for a victory. The anti ab.law struggle is big right now, the trial would be a good - focus for sentiment both organizational and individual, the result of a clear victory might be total repeal, etc.
Although the decision by the 7 people tended to make the whole political discussion irrelevant insofar as it would lead to trial--identified strategy, the points raised continued to come up during the meeting and people were often not clear how to discuss strategy apart from the trial. The main confusion seemed to be people's thinking political trial meant only courtroom tactics, when in fact it is not possible to talk about dozens of other allied actions apart from the courtroom.
D.C. of the Hyde Park Chapter outlined their proposal for immediate and ongoing action around the issue.
- fund raising
- defense committees and community meetings in areas where we work, live, etc,
- procedural strategy - what to do and who, in CWLU to do it
- build for A major demonstration
There was a confused debate as to what proposals should be discussed, how, and in what order. Should we talk about what the CWLU should do before 7 people decide specific tactics, should we send CWLU reps. to outline possible strategies for them to consider before making decision, or what.
D.C. suggested that people. Objection that sending someone would be arrogant action. The tenuous relationship of J. and CWLU was mentioned here and at other times with no examination of the factors contributors to the bad relationship.
A. R. proposed to talk about objective political conditions first so we could effectively talk about strategy.
D.C. proposed that we vote on one of the following a. strategic and political aspects of case b. organizational tactics to do in support c. neither one DECISION - to discuss organizational questions
A discussion of coalition effort for defense project. Agreed that in theory coalition is strongest tool but entrance to coalition must be done from position of strength.
Proposal to form defense committee immediately with NOW PASSED
Proposal to have health project coordinate Union defense around the ab. case.
Informal discussion of basic actions petition campaign to get charges dropped and law off books, city wide informational and planning meeting priorities of coalition's work
It was informally decided that S.C. members would take several suggestions to their groups, such as
a. immediate fund raising,b. get basic info. out to people, c. get one person from each union chapter and work group to be on defense committee, and d. get community groups going, S.C. would also bring back more suggestions from groups, R.S. to be liason between 7 people and CWLU for time being. S.C. to make all decisions relating to defense committee and act as direction for health project.