Abortion bans upheld: Our task–a new human society

June 24, 2022

by Terry Moon

What the Supreme Court’s decision to make abortion illegal in the U.S. clearly shows is that individual freedom has been destroyed. Pundits are right to say this is only the beginning—although it is more truthful to say the middle, because workers, Black people and other people of color’s freedom has been in the process of destruction for decades. Now, by declaring that citizens no longer have a right to privacy, which is what Roe v. Wade was based on, the government and its police enforcers have been given the green light to trample freedom in ways U.S. citizens haven’t seen since the 1950s.

On May 7, thousands of women march and rally in Chicago against the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo: S.B. for News & Letters.

THE MEANING OF CIVIL RIGHTS

It is rare for a Supreme Court to take away a human right—and this one has stripped bodily autonomy from half the population. It is a giant step towards fascism.

U.S. citizens no longer have the freedoms that help make life beautiful—and bearable—the right to love whom we choose, control over our own bodies including abortion and birth control, the right to be safe walking the streets as a person of color, the right to go shopping, to the supermarket, to church or to school without being gunned down by some maniac or a man with a grudge.

In these times with a Supreme Court out to gut human and civil rights, and the whole country one election away from losing them altogether, it’s worth remembering what civil rights mean: “a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one’s entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of society and the state without discrimination or repression.”

What we are facing is a ruling class that does not want the people they rule to have such rights, to have such power over their own lives. They’ve used racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ+ attacks, and barrages of lies to get what they want. And with this Supreme Court and the other U.S. courts they’ve packed with right-wing neofascist judges, they are on their way to get it.

WE ARE THE ANSWER

There is lots of talk about what can be done to ensure that women and any gender diverse person who may want or need an abortion can still get one. None of that—from availability of abortion pills to other states pitching in, to abortion funds, as vital as they are—will reach all the women and others who need abortions, especially poor women and women of color. Nor will energized anti-abortion fanatics and their enablers in Congress and the courts stop at anything short of a national ban on all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, fetal deformity, non-viability after birth, or the life of the mother.

In order to enforce such a draconian policy, women’s lives will be policed, miscarriages criminalized, pregnancy tracked from the moment of conception, birth control outlawed. We know this, not because we are sages who can foresee the future, but because all these things have happened and most are happening now someplace in the world.

The Democratic Party is not the answer. If they were, we wouldn’t be here in the first place. Since Roe v. Wade was made into law—because there was a thriving, demanding, militant Women’s Liberation Movement—the Democratic Party has done the barest minimum to ensure that we keep that right and widen it. After all, we still have the heinous Hyde Amendment which in 1976 banned federal funds from paying for an abortion for poor women. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that federal funds have to prop up religious institutions that discriminate against women  and LGBTQ+ people and plot to take away our rights.

We—those of us who rail against the impoverishment of what life could be, who have a vision of the future where human beings are free to develop all their skills and talents—we are the only answer. What we have to aid us is that vision of the future and the knowledge that we have the power, not only in numbers, but in ideas.

Karl Marx had a vision too, of a revolution in permanence that didn’t stop with the overthrow of the current tyrants and capitalists, but continued until there was a new society grounded in new human relationships; and even then it would continue. What the recent Supreme Court decision makes clear is how that is still our task.

—June 24, 2022

 

 

3 thoughts on “Abortion bans upheld: Our task–a new human society

  1. When Roe v. Wade was announced, women’s liberationists celebrated, but then went on vacation and didn’t fight for proper regulation–regulation that would ensure facilities were safe and medically sound and would prevent unscrupulous clinics from either providing substandard, unsafe care, or pretending to provide abortion care and in fact snookering women into keeping their pregnancies until it was too late. Meanwhile the anti-abortionists fought to craft regulations that would make it impossible to provide abortions, a practice they increased steadily to this day. This is why “revolution in permanence” is so important. The Hyde Amendment came about because white middle-class women did not fight against it, as it affected poor women and women of color.

    The Supreme Court said there was no history in the Constitution of an abortion right. Nor was there a right to vote for women, and Black people; Black men were counted as only 3/5 of a man. Will they argue the same way when they try to take away women’s right to vote or the personhood of Black people? The anti-abortionists want to dominate the thinking of women by calling the fetus a “baby” until everyone believes that Big Lie. A fetus will only become a baby after it is born. But they want to make it a legal person with rights from the moment of conception. Well, will it have responsibilities also, like every other good citizen? Will it have to pay taxes, be drafted into the military? We have already seen cases where mothers’ health or lives have been forcibly sacrificed to keep fetuses alive. This false ideology negates the personhood of the already-born, especially the mother.

  2. Susan Van Gelder writes that the women’s movement didn’t fight for proper regulation of abortion clinics or the fake clinics that popped up pretending to be abortion facilities. Of course many women did fight for these things–including white women–just not enough to make a difference, just as we were not enough to make a difference in the recent horrible Supreme Court decision. What has always made me angry was the fact that women’s clinics had to be created to meet women’s need for abortions. Why weren’t abortions performed in hospitals from the minute Roe V. Wade became the law of the land? Had this been the case, it would have legitimized and regulated abortion from its legal beginnings and reduced the spectacle of anti-abortion fanatics screaming “murderer” at women walking into freestanding healthcare clinics. I believe, but am not sure, that abortion clinics were regulated by state governments from their inception, just not well. No surprise there. Women’s health needs have never been a government priority as seen in the shamefully high maternal mortality rate in the U.S.

  3. And not only did many women continue to fight to protect and expand abortion rights thru the Hyde Amendment, but these fights continued beyond that time. I cut my political teeth as a student participating in clinic defences in the 1980s, so I know its not true that “women went on vacation” after Roe.

    I would posit rather, that the broader women’s movement’s acceptance of Roe as “the best we can do” to expand abortion rights, by accepting its being nestled under a “privacy” right, rather than pushing for a more expansive foundation as a right against discrimination (eg the implication of Catharine MacKinnon’s critique, and also a part of parallel legal battles that were superceded by the Roe victory) turned out to be a fundamental weakness. The ideology of Roe then morphed into abortion rights being about individual “choice”, which gradually became the individualising discourse of many feminists, leading to the disintegration of the collective ethos of earlier feminists.

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