By Cincinnati Socialist Workers Organization
The statement below is by Cincinnati Socialist Workers Organization. Socialist Action is in full agreement with the statement and its call for mass action to fight for abortion rights.
The US Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights. While this is only a draft decision and may yet be modified before it takes effect, it should serve as a spur to organizing and declaration of war by the reactionary Supreme Court against the basic rights to bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. This decision is not a surprise, the Court is stacked with right-wing hatchet men chosen for their utter hatred and contempt for exploited and oppressed people and the right-wing of the US capitalist class has been seeking to ban abortion for years. Abortions are already de facto inaccessible for many working class people and the paper thin legal right to them has been constantly under siege. We must organize to fight for abortion rights and reproductive justice for all.
The fight cannot continue to rely on the failed liberal strategy that has dominated efforts to defend abortion access in the recent period. This is a strategy of advocacy, of lobbying politicians and sending lawyers to argue it out behind closed doors. It is fundamentally a strategy of retreat, seeking court judgments to block the worst of the attacks while trying to postpone, not prevent, this moment—the moment when the Supreme Court displays its full reactionary program.
This strategy for protecting abortion access is not based upon bodily autonomy, rather it is based upon the right to privacy. This right has been under attack for decades now by the surveillance state and mass incarceration even as it is the basis of the limited progress that has taken place. In overturning Roe the Court threatens to overturn other cases also based on the right to privacy. This includes Lawrence v. Texas which overturned sodomy laws in 2003, Griswold v. Connecticut which protects access to contraceptives, Loving v. Virginia which overturned bans on interracial marriage, and Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same sex marriage. This is the strategy of the right-wing radicals who form the Supreme Court majority. They are waging war on all our rights in the name of capitalist class rule. The Court’s commitment to undermining basic rights, rights won more by militant struggle than by legal maneuvers, demonstrates a critical mistake in the liberal strategy—when tides turn it only takes one court ruling to throw all of our rights into question and the hunting dogs of reaction are always waiting for an opportunity to strike.
The fundamental problem with the legalistic-liberal strategy is that it excludes the masses from participation and abandons the mass action tactics that led to Roe in the first place. Even though it came through the courts, abortion was not legalized because someone came up with a clever argument but because masses of people mobilized and took to the streets to demand it, because mutual aid networks developed to provide healthcare to those in need, and because the working class was organized to fight for it. This is shown in some of the arguments that the court used in the original Roe decision. Included among other arguments are those that mention the “history and traditions” that were being actively formed by radicals at that time. Thus the mobilizations directly pushed the court into its decision. It is a great loss that since then, the efforts to protect abortion have effectively stopped at the courtroom. Even as anything short of socialist revolution is a bandage waiting to be torn off, it is informative to compare abortion rights to other rights won by the working class through legislation. Look at Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. Even as they are constantly whittled away at and enfeebled beyond recognition, they are still here. Medicaid is not enough and socialists should take up the fight to expand and fund it (or to do away with medical insurance all together and instead nationalize healthcare), but it cannot be tossed away by nine unelected bureaucrats. A battle to protect the right to abortion in legislation will not be spearheaded by those that pushed the issue to the courts in the first place. Nor would legislation be enough by itself. The only garauntee of abortion access is an organized and militant working class to fight for it.
As we observed previously, “Beyond legal cases that can be torn by changing winds or the whim of nine unelected bureaucrats, the only other strategy liberals offer is electing Democrats to office. However to receive a Democratic Party endorsement, politicians don’t even have to be pro-choice. Even while Obama, a pro-choice politician, was in office, between 2011 and 2014 about a quarter of the abortion clinics in the Midwest shutdown. As socialists we are not satisfied with keeping abortion ‘safe and legal’, abortion is healthcare and healthcare should be free to those that need it. Before nonprofits started to take over the fight for abortion the call was for ‘free abortion on demand without apology’. As socialists we know that capitalism cannot supply less stigmatized healthcare equitably, capitalism will never put lives above profit and will never bring about equality in access only equality to suffer and to make others suffer. As capitalism puts insulin out of reach of millions of Americans, abortion is no different. Even if a patient (sometimes) has the legal right to get an abortion if they cannot find the money to pay for an abortion, cannot take off work for the abortion, or any other situations that have been caused by capitalism abortion is not accessible to them. As socialists every attack on a person’s bodily autonomy is horrendous and should be fought with every ounce of our power.” The capitalist class wants to control every aspect of our lives, at home and at work. They want us to reproduce on their terms, raising another generation of workers to be exploited for their profits. They want to assign women to the role of domestic workers, performing unpaid socially reproductive labor. They want to erase trans people from existence and enforce the cis het nuclear family on everyone because it benefits them. Bodily autonomy is an affront to their power, a conquest of the working class and oppressed people that we constantly have to struggle to defend. Abortion bans are class war, and our class must organize to fight back. In the words of Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
We know that the Supreme Court, and the US government generally, is an agent of the capitalist class to oppress and exploit the people. It will never be our ally in the struggle for abortion rights. It must be abolished. We must abolish it. We must organize ourselves, build unions and tenants associations that allow us to wield our power as workers, join socialist parties to develop our program and prepare for revolution, and fight every step of the way. We must go on the offensive, take political power into our own hands, and tear this whole damn system down.