Amy Cousens, Sheffield Socialist Party
400, mostly young women, gathered at the town hall on 27 June to demonstrate solidarity with US women, and all those who need abortion, against the abhorrent overturning of Roe v Wade. The mood was fear and anger.
Anger that such a fundamental human right could be taken away in a supposedly ‘progressive’ western country, and very real fear that if it can happen there, it could happen here too.
Calls for action to defend our rights here were met with large applause. By far the best received speaker was Holly from Sheffield Socialist Party.
Holly put out a call to action, and linked the struggle for abortion rights to wider societal struggle. She pointed to how people can organise to not only defend our right to abortion, but give women real choice about whether or not to have children.
That includes a fight for higher wages and benefits, affordable social housing, fully funded childcare and many other demands that would lift the livelihoods of the working class, and therefore make having children affordable.
Holly made the link that striking workers are part of this struggle for real choice. Their victories in winning higher pay give confidence to other workers to do the same, paving the way towards better pay nationally. It is only with this broader understanding and direction that the fight for abortion rights will succeed in the US.
Socialist Party member Sheila Caffrey spoke to 600 protesters on 3 July:
“I’m a teacher and I’m in the National Education Union (NEU). It’s fantastic that we’ve got this going on today. The amount of people we’ve got out here, standing up, and saying this is what we need for us, our bodies and our lives.
But unfortunately, that’s being drummed out of education. Although we’ve taken it to the streets today, we need to take it back into our workplaces and back into education.
If this government had its way, any of us here today then going back into schools or colleges on Monday could be done for standing up and saying it’s our political right to make a choice. That is disgusting.
We’ve got relationships and sex education which is totally inadequate. Instead of teaching things like consent, where to go if you need support, and what you should be allowed to do with your own body, all it is trying to bring it down to biology. That is not what we need.
A decent curriculum should take up all the issues that people have raised today. It should be speaking to children, young people, students, teachers and educators, from every background and every area across Britain, to ensure that we have a curriculum that reflects what we want and what we need.
And only then will we have a curriculum that is inclusive and totally free from prejudice and bigotry, which unfortunately is not what we’re pushed to deliver as educators.”