March 28, 2020 5:35 pm
Anti-abortion, anti-woman politicians in the United States are callously exploiting the Covid-19 global pandemic currently gripping the world to attack abortion rights.
The coronavirus relief package was nearly derailed by House republicans and White House attempts to wedge in anti-abortion Hyde Amendment language. The bipartisan Hyde amendment⎼upheld by all incoming presidential administrations since 1976⎼ prohibits federal health insurance plans, like Medicaid, from covering abortion and disproportionality impacts poor women and women of color.
Lawmakers in Texas, Ohio and Mississippi are trying to restrict abortion access in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. They have included abortions in the non-essential procedures and medical procedures that need to be delayed.
Texas and Mississippi will take measures to punish abortion providers if they do not comply.
For example, Texas is imposing $1,000 fines or 180-days in jail for any physician who continues to provide abortion services.
Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, told the media in a statement on Tuesday that if the only remaining abortion clinic refuses to comply, his office will take unspecified measures against it.
These latest attempts to restrict abortion access come against a backdrop of draconian abortion bans passed by right-wing states in recent years that virtually ban the procedure – which is part of a greater onslaught to repeal the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that established the right to an abortion.
Over the past decade, reactionary forces have conducted anti-abortion campaigns as part of their concerted attacks on women’s rights, with spurious medical claims and sensationalist tactics aimed at influencing legislation. The campaigns aim to moralize and create stigma around abortion to push it out of the realm of healthcare.
A major aspect of this misogynistic propagandists crusade, is the unscientific and misleading labeling of abortion as an ‘elective’ or ‘nonessential’ procedure.
Such reactionary attempts to restrict women’s access to abortion further exacerbate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Becoming pregnant during the pandemic could have real profound consequences for many women who have lost their jobs and are concerned about access to adequate prenatal care due to the halting of various health care services.
“We’ve already heard from people who want to get an abortion before they can’t anymore, and who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19,” said Shae Ward, hotline coordinator for the Lilith Fund, an abortion fund serving central and southern Texas.
Owing to the targeted regulations of abortion providers, or TRAP laws, women in Texas must wait 24 hours after receiving an ultrasound and state mandated biased counseling before they can have an abortion, increasing their visits to the clinic. These requirements increase a woman’s chances of getting or spreading the coronavirus, poking a hole in politicians’ claims that they are restricting abortion access to encourage social distancing.
Abortion is an essential, time-sensitive, and safe medical procedure that cannot be postponed, especially during a crisis. Halting abortion is a severe danger to women’s health and self-agency. Most abortions are noninvasive, nonsurgical procedures that can be done with a pill offsite with telehealth consultation; making it a safe option for women isolating themselves due to the current public health emergency. Yet, underscoring the misogynistic politicking, medication abortion care will be prohibited despite President Trump allowing his top health official the “ability to waive laws to enable telemedicine” during the pandemic.
Further abortion restrictions in the time of the Covid-19 public health emergency and the precipice of a global economic meltdown illustrates that the current political structure, where profits supersede people’s needs, is unable to address the crisis on all fronts. While establishment politicians could be enacting life-saving measures such as paid sick leave and unemployment insurance, they instead use the crisis as an opportunity to roll back the rights women have fought so hard for.
50 years after Roe v. Wade, abortions rights are still under threat. The coronavirus crisis has revealed with startling clarity the innate racist, sexist, and exploitative nature of the capitalist system itself. In face of this unprecedented crisis, there is no business-as-usual for women’s rights, a return to militant and grassroots mobilization can turn the tide of misogynistic, draconian attacks and achieve true reproductive justice!
March 31, 2020 9:55 pm
While the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate across the United States, more and more workers are being backed into life or death situations. The crisis is not simply a result of the virus itself but the lack of material governmental response. Many workers, impacted by cuts in hours, job losses or mass school closings are now struck by deep financial precarity, unsure of where next month’s rent money will come from. The lowest paid and most oppressed workers have been hit the hardest.
For working-class women, the Coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated the already-existing fault lines of gender, race and class. Women workers face some of the greatest risks while also being on the frontlines of the crisis. The industries deeply affected by the virus like the service sector, domestic work, and childcare are disproportionately staffed by women. Seventy percent of restaurant servers, 92 percent of childcare workers and 93 percent of domestic workers are women.
The need for serious relief is compounded by the fact that the millions of workers across industries hit hard by the crisis already lived precariously. These are the same industries in which many live paycheck to paycheck due to disproportionately low wages, and often lack mandated paid sick leave, time off or health insurance. Thus, working-class women have been left dramatically and disproportionately unprepared for the ensuing economic crisis.
For parents, and particularly single parents, the struggle to find daycare amidst mass school and daycare closings has similarly prompted a worker scramble. Low-income workers still managing to get hours, and unable to simply take time off or leave their jobs entirely, often have no choice but to leave their children with elderly grandparents who are at a higher risk of complications if they contract the virus. Faced with the decision over whether to keep a roof over their heads or face the potentiality of contracting COVID-19, many workers have had no choice but to take the risk. Healthcare workers are also having to make heartbreaking decisions in order to care for their own families and keep them out of harm’s way by isolating themselves from families.
For those without housing at all, the struggle between human need and profit is undeniably clear. Women are amongst the fastest growing sector of homeless people in the United States and 67 percent of homeless families are headed by single mothers. While the number of empty homes across the nation outnumbers those experiencing homelessness 6 to 1, the homes remain vacant, despite the threat of the coronavirus. Some amongst the homeless population have begun to seize and occupy idle homes in various cities, citing the governmental failure to provide shelter necessary to both protect this extremely vulnerable population and prevent the further spread of the virus. Despite the dangers of the virus spreading faster among homeless people and the deep brutality of leaving people on the streets during the pandemic, the right of the landlords of the properties to profit still remains protected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the lack of infrastructure in place in the United States to protect workers and the oppressed, even in emergency situations. U.S. healthcare workers, of whom 78 percent are women, are battling the virus on the frontlines and have assumed the greatest exposure risk to the disease. Yet, hospitals around the nation are terribly unprepared to either keep healthcare workers protected or to really serve the needs of the sick during the crisis. The woeful inadequacy of the U.S. government, that of the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, has left the workers very vulnerable in the face of the virus.
Rather than preparing for a crisis that was clearly on the horizon, the U.S. government spent the January and February demonizing China despite that country’s effective and speedy handling of COVID-19. Now, the U.S. population, filled with uncertainty and a lack of clear direction, scrambles with small-scale mutual aid efforts and crowdfunding to ensure that hospital workers have enough masks to protect themselves or that elders can get the food and supplies they need. Individuals, family units and small communities are addressing the crisis in patchwork efforts. But what is really needed is a massive public health mobilization. The stress of the nationwide pandemic is being displaced onto the workers, the parents and the most oppressed, while the government directs resources to the banks and big corporations like Boeing.
The recent trillion dollar relief package is giving workers far less than what is needed and the burden of this situation will be felt by all. Undocumented workers are left with no access to even this limited relief.
The COVID-19 crisis has already reached unprecedented levels here in the United States, and while the government injects trillions of dollars into the pockets of the wealthiest, the most oppressed of the population are absorbing the greatest, most detrimental economic and public health impacts.
Breaking the Chains magazine joins in solidarity with all workers and oppressed people organizing for increased protections for frontline workers, from healthcare workers to farmworkers. We need a public health mobilization with mass produced testing kits, free COVID19 testing for all, and production of protective gear for all. Workers need guaranteed pay so they can be home with their kids and properly shelter in place if they aren’t in essential workplaces. The government has the resources to provide all of this. Stop funding the banks and corporations and start funding people’s needs!
Sexism and misogyny is on the rise, coupled with attempts to roll back the gains women have made as a result of militant organizing and popular movements. From attacks on social services that directly benefit women to Title IX protections to reproductive rights, women’s rights have been set squarely in the target of a ruling class assault on working and oppressed people, globally. This issue of Breaking the Chains magazine highlights the necessity of building a movement to turn back the assault tide. But that tide is an outgrowth of the brutal and bankrupt capitalist system, itself. Liberal capitalist reformers offer critiques but no solutions. For women to be truly liberated, we must win socialism.
This issue includes:
Women and the Climate Change Emergency
A Marxist analysis of Socialism and Women’s Liberation
An interview with central committee member of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party in South Africa, Mikaela Erskog
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