Purple Sash Revolution
by C.J. Williams
Past and present converged at Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington D.C., January 22nd, 2020. It was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Women across the nation were celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage.
And a large crew of women — myself included — were tying it all together with a purple sash and a brash but respectful statement:
Dear Speaker Pelosi, stop obstructing justice.
That frigid Wednesday morning, we gathered from across the nation on the steps of the House offices. The crowd swelled. Women donned our purple sashes, emblazoned with the statement: Equal rights for preborn women. And as the crowd swelled, so did the media.
So did our statement.
The event, spearheaded by Brandi Swindell, and Stanton Healthcare, was promoted well ahead of time as the #PurpleSashRevolution. Pelosi has repeatedly refused to allow a vote, or even discussion, of the Infants Born Alive Protection Act. The fact that more than half of those infants are women seems to escape her. So does the point that that those early suffragists didn’t suffer handcuffs, verbal abuse, and constant excoriation by the press so that a woman representative could promote another system wherein violence, using people as property, and rights based on the oppression of others could be ensconced again in our legal framework. Abortion itself, late-term, mid-term, and in the first few weeks of pregnancy, does just that.
Before the press conference got well underway, a few of us also raised the concern that contrary to the nonviolent principles of her suffragist forebears, Pelosi has never used of her influence to remove the President’s unchecked executive authority to use nuclear weapons.
Over 20 young women myself included, spoke to the press. Statements came from Camille C., of Students for Life, as well as from event organizers and abortion survivors.
“We are going to Speaker Pelosi’s office to call for an end to infanticide and demand she allow a vote on protecting children born alive from late-term abortions,” Brandi Swindell of Stanton International said as we headed into the building, “It is unconscionable that Speaker Pelosi is refusing to allow a vote on this critical human rights issue.”
In line with the civil rights activists of the near-past, and the suffragists of the further-past, we trekked inside and peacefully sat in front of Nancy Pelosi’s door. “We pray that Nancy Pelosi embrace the fundamentals of her feminist forebears…of her Catholic upbringing,” Rev. Pat Mahoney prayed as over 40 men and women jammed the stairs behind us.
“Why are you doing this?” a man — an aide? — asked me. He didn’t stop to give me his name. But he got my reply, “We’re obstructing her door until she stops obstructing justice.”
Within moments of sitting down — while some women prayed, and others sang — the D.C. police shouted out a first warning. Then, in split-second succession, warning two and three came. Legs flew and protesters who couldn’t or wouldn’t risk arrest scrambled for the corners of the hall.
Nine of us marched out proudly in handcuffs. Nine of us put our lives on the line for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Nine of us made a peaceful statement with more than words — with our bodies, time, and presence: violence is never a just solution, and we’ll sit on your porch til you’re just too darn fed up with us not to choose to protect the lives of our most vulnerable from violence.
“Participants [wore] purple sashes to stand in solidarity with our founding sisters who heroically worked to empower and inspire women by securing the right to vote and strongly embracing human rights and equality,” said Swindell, tying the past to our present. ”Suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood against abortion and rejected the notion that abortion violence is a way to advance women’s rights.”