January 22, 2019 7:26 pm
Forty-six years after the Roe v Wade decision recognized that a women’s right to abortion was protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, access to abortion remains severely limited.
For the anniversary, Refinery29 posted a state-by-state map that illustrates how a range of restrictions limit access to abortion in a majority of states. The map depicts the results of a coordinated right wing offensive against reproductive rights.
It also shows numerically how fake crisis pregnancy centers far outnumber genuine abortion providers in most states. There has been a major push to legitimize the centers which are yet another way to deny women access to reproductive healthcare. The anti-abortion centers engage in deceptive and dishonest manipulation in order to undermine reproductive rights. They are not true medical centers and even those with certification provide limited medical care. In a 5 to 4 decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates [NIFLA] v. Becerra on June 26 the U.S. Supreme Court held the deeply-held religious beliefs of those running centers were undermined by a California state law requiring the centers to inform clients if they are uncertified, or, if certified, to post information about state providers of free and low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care.
From 2011 to 2013, more restrictions were placed on abortion access than in the 10 previous years combined. This period launched a reactionary offensive that seeks to erode Roe v Wade, and ultimately undermine reproductive rights entirely. They do not restrict their targets to abortion solely but have targeted access to birth control as well.
The sexist, racist and anti-worker Trump administration came into existence in this context and has only served to empower and embolden the most reactionary forces in society. In 2018, Trump was the first U.S. president to address the March for Life in person, though not the first to address the gathering, as both Bush and Reagan did that. Vice President Mike Pence graced the march with his presence this year addressing the anti-abortion crowd with anti-woman rhetoric. He later tweeted the anti-women “accomplishments” of the administration: “We’ve reinstated the Mexico City Policy, allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood & nominated judges who will uphold our God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution.”
None of these attacks have gone unnoticed by the women’s movement. The day after Trump was inaugurated millions of people marched for women’s rights in cities across the country, a scene that is now repeated yearly.
A year later the #MeToo movement swept the country. From Hollywood stars to McDonald’s workers, women spoke up and organized against what is truly an epidemic of sexual harassment and assault.
Roe v Wade was a historic decision that was a victory of the militant women’s movement. Sarah Weddington, one of the lawyers who argued the case, was an activist who organized for reproductive freedoms for many years after the decision. The women’s movement was active in so many ways. The social movements against war, for civil rights, for Black liberation and for LGBTQ rights were all powerful and reshaping society’s views and confronting oppression and exploitation. The women’s movement at the time was part and parcel of those wider social movements.
In this era of the Trump agenda, the growing emboldenment of right-wing forces that want to strip women of the rights we have won, forces that are also pushing a racist anti-immigrant, anti-worker agenda, we must look to the gains and defeats of organizers and movement builders before us to learn what is necessary to confront reaction. What is needed? We desperately need that militant, independent force that is created when the status quo is no longer acceptable, when people march into the streets and refuse to bow to the demands of the reactionaries or the misleading guidance of the Democrats.
On the anniversary of Roe v Wade, Breaking the Chains salutes all of the people doing the organizing we need to build this movement. The people working with women in small towns and cities across the United States to ensure reproductive health access despite the fact the nearest abortion provider is a state or two away. The working women and students on campuses in the big cities speaking out and standing up against sexual assault. The victims who refuse to be victimized anymore and come forward to tell their stories. Our sisters in prisons who refuse to be dehumanized by the system, who have gone on strike to end extreme exploitation and who look to each other to build solidarity behind bars. The antiwar organizers and the people in countries targeted and occupied by U.S. imperialism who resist. The immigrants who face incredible odds, yet walk together and speak together to demand dignity and justice. The transgender people who stay true to who they are despite an epidemic of bigoted hateful violence.
We look forward to a day when we are able to march side by side in a powerful display of human solidarity that can push the forces of reaction aside and into oblivion as we build a better world.
On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 314, a near-total abortion ban, into law. The ban is the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the United States. It is also illegal.
Alabama’s abortion ban outlaws abortion at any stage in gestation and nearly all cases. This makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage in pregnancy. Doctors could be sentenced to life in prison for performing an abortion. The criminalization of the abortion procedure as a Class A felony would mean doctors could face up to 99 years in prison, which is potentially decades longer than the term many rapists serve in Alabama.
Alabama’s anti-abortion law has few exceptions besides “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” and “the unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
While the right-wing forces purport to be pro-life, nothing could be further from the truth. The real and central issues are control and oppression. Women are the targets of these particular policies, but the same forces targeting us support the incarceration of poor youth and youth of color at astronomical rates. The same forces actively support or do not ever resist the detention of young immigrant children and their separation from families. They are not proponents of universal childcare or fully-funded public education. They care little for the fate of those who need abortions for a variety of reasons.
The state of Alabama is a prime example. The yellowhammer state ranks 49th in education. Sixteen and 17-year olds in the state are automatically charged as adults for certain crimes, like burglary. The right-to-work state has few protections for workers and only 7 percent of workers are unionized. It has the sixth highest rate of poverty in the United States, with over 250,000 children living in poverty in 2018. Over 22 percent of children live with food insecurity.
Abortion access and reproductive justice are health care measures that primarily serve the interests of poor and working people. The state government of Alabama, like the reactionary anti-abortion forces, clearly care little for the fate and well-being of poor and working class people. The abortion ban is just yet another piece of evidence to this effect.
2019 has been a year marked by an onslaught of stringent anti-abortion measures in more than a dozen states across the country. In the past few weeks, some of the strictest anti-abortion bills yet were signed into laws in several states- notably Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, and Missouri.
The barrage of anti-abortion bills in recent weeks signals an escalated reactionary attack aiming to dismantle Roe v. Wade and undermine reproductive rights altogether. The severe Alabama-styled abortion bans that make no exception for cases of rape or incest would punish rape victims or leave them without options. A recent article by Shannon Dingle for USA Today recounts her experience as a twelve-years-old who became pregnant after being raped multiple times. Dingle points out how abortion bans would have forced her to give birth to her rapist’s child.
Dingle compares her experience to a recent report of an 11-year old girl in Ohio who was allegedly impregnated after a 26-year-old raped her multiple times. Under Ohio’s new law, this young girl would be unable to receive an abortion.
In April, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill into law, which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Typically, a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as the sixth week of pregnancy−before most women even know that they are pregnant! Like Alabama’s ban, Ohio’s law does include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Ohio’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ anti-abortion law isn’t the first time such a bill was passed into law. This year, three other states-Mississippi, Kentucky, and most recently Georgia and Missouri-passed ‘fetal heartbeat’ bills.
‘Heartbeat’ bills have also so far passed one chamber in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The other measures introduced to state houses in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas, and West Virginia have yet to get votes.
Lawsuits have been filed or are planned to block the laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio. State legislators introduced these bills knowing that they would be challenged in court. Right-wing forces have set the stage to reverse Roe v. Wade hoping the abortion bans will be heard by the right-wing Supreme Court.
Despite the fact that the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion a legal right, many women still face obstacles in obtaining abortions. The first reactionary attack on Roe v. Wade was the nefarious 1977 Hyde Amendment that denied the use of Medicaid funds for abortion. Over the last decade in particular, states have passed hundreds and hundreds of restrictive laws and other measure that decrease access to abortion access. The limitations range from laws effectively shutting down abortion providers to counseling requirements, extended waiting periods, restricted insurance coverage and state support for fake counseling centers that deceive people.
Anti-abortion groups and reactionary forces have been backing more aggressive restrictions since President Trump’s 2016 election, but their efforts have become even more brazen in 2019. Anti-abortion groups and legislators are pushing these new restrictive bills with the 2020 presidential elections now in sight.
Women’s rights and lives are on the line. History has show that the there is a force capable to pushing back the reactionary offensive. That force is not the spineless and opportunistic forces in the leadership of the Democratic Party. The militant and independent women’s movement of the 1960s won the victory of Roe v. Wade in 1973 despite an all conservative majority Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade.
Today’s offensive similarly requires the organization and mobilization of a broad sector of society, in the streets and workplaces and campuses and more. It requires that we stand strong against the forces that would seek to divide us–that we understand the struggle for reproductive justice as one that must stand against racism, against homophobia, against anti-transbigotry, against all permutations of sexism and misogyny. It requires that we shout boldly not only our right to abortion and birth control but to reproductive justice for all people and that we do so from every possible corner.
Women work hard. We know that. But what does it really mean to work as women in capitalist society? Our class has nothing to sell but it’s labor power, and the value the capitalists extract is a driving force in society. This defines our relationship to work. We must work to survive under conditions of exploitation to benefit the drive for capitalist profit. The contradictions inherent to capitalism and the historical oppression of women in class society combine to define a particular experience of work. How do revolutionary feminists define work, understand work, and relate work to structures of oppression in capitalist society?
“Working to survive, Struggling for dignity” explores the relationship between work and women in capitalist society, in our struggle as socialist revolutionaries and members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, to liberate ourselves from the oppressive mantle of capitalist society.
This issue includes: