Build a socialist fightback!
Jane Nellist, Coventry Socialist Party (additional reporting by the Independent Socialist Group, USA)
The US Supreme Court, in a five-four vote, allowed Texas’s new anti-abortion law to take effect on 31 August. Even though surveys across the country, including Texas, show that support for abortion is still a majority-held view.
It means abortions are illegal in the state after six weeks – before most women even know they are pregnant. Currently, 90% of abortions in Texas happen after the six-week mark.
Although the court did not rule on the ‘merits’ of the Texas law, the five-four majority indicates that the Republican-packed Supreme Court is likely at some stage to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which established a woman’s right to abortion in the US.
The Texas law allows anyone, anywhere, to sue people involved in providing abortion care or practical support to patients in Texas, after a foetal ‘heartbeat’ has been found, and win judgments of $10,000 or more. In effect, it’s a licence for vigilantism.
Working people were told that electing Joe Biden would be the only way to protect abortion rights – despite Biden’s previous support for the Hyde amendment which bans federally funded programmes from paying for or subsidising abortions.
Abortion rights have been eroded under Republican and Democratic Party regimes alike.
Under Bush, Obama, and Trump, access to abortion clinics drastically declined across the US, with a record 205 abortion restrictions passed by states between 2011 and 2013. None of these administrations made a serious attempt to counteract these trends.
Across the world, where abortion is illegal, or there is a lack of safe services to support women, abortions continue to take place at roughly the same rate, according to the World Health Organisation.
When safe abortion services are denied, and medical practitioners are in effect criminalised, women are forced to turn to unsafe practices and ‘backstreet’ abortionists.
In countries where abortion is illegal, 30,000 women each year die from botched abortions.
If they have the financial means, women can travel to access proper medical care for an abortion. It will be the poorer women who will suffer the worst consequences of this injustice.
The right wing in the US has declared war on women’s rights to safe abortion. The huge inequality between the social classes in the US has meant that more women seek abortions because they don’t have the means to raise children due to low wages and lack of affordable housing and healthcare.
The Independent Socialist Group (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party) says:
Some activists mistakenly believe that going through the entire judicial system is the best way to fight laws like the Texas abortion ban. But only a mass movement of working people can defeat the Texas abortion ban and countless other restrictive laws against abortion.
Roe v Wade was decided in the context of a militant women’s struggle arising out of other mass movements of the time – the movement against the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and movements for environmental protection.
The fight for women’s rights does not just include lifting legal restrictions on abortion. We must also fight for free, universal health care with guaranteed reproductive health coverage and family planning services, higher-paying jobs with paid time off, free public and affordable housing, equal pay through expanding union membership and democratising unions, free mass public transportation, guaranteed paid parental leave, fully funded and free childcare, and so much more.
The fight for women’s rights is the fight for socialism, where the majority of society has control over the economy and political system, so we can ensure that everyone’s needs are met.
Unions, women’s and LGBTQ rights groups, socialists, and other activist groups in the US must mobilise for marches, protests, occupations, and strikes to repeal repressive anti-abortion laws.
- Defend the right to choose whether and when to have children. Provide free reproductive services, including all forms of birth control and safe, accessible abortions
- Teach comprehensive and inclusive sex education in schools
- Guarantee at least 16 weeks of paid family and medical leave for all
- For universal, high quality, affordable, and publicly run child and eldercare
- For a mass, diverse, workers’ party drawing together workers, unions, youth, oppressed communities, and activists from environmental, anti-racist, women’s and other movements, to provide a fighting political alternative to the capitalist parties