Defend Roe V Wade – We won’t be dragged backwards! Abortion rights now!

Text of the Socialist Party leaflet for tomorrow’s protests called by ROSA-Socialist Feminist Movement against attempts to overturn the Roe V Wade in the United States and that are also demanding that we have secular and public National Maternity Hospital .

A draft US Supreme Court decision leaked to the media indicates that the Court is preparing to overturn the Roe V Wade decision, which legalised abortion across the US in 1973 – off the back of the enormous struggle of the second feminist wave. 

Such a decision by the Court would have immediate, disastrous effects for women and pregnant people. Thirteen US states have passed ‘’trigger laws’’ which would immediately ban abortion as soon as Roe V Wade is overturned. It is estimated that 26 states in total would pass abortion bans. 

In September, Texas introduced legislation which bans abortion after six weeks and actually allows private individuals to sue abortion patients and providers. Oklahoma’s proposed law threatens abortion providers with up to ten years in prison. 

Devastating impact 

If abortion is banned in large parts of the US the impact will be devastating for everyone who needs abortion access, but especially for working-class women and women of colour. Black women in the US are nearly three times as likely to die in pregnancy. 

The attack on Roe V Wade opens up the possibilities for a broader reactionary offensive through the courts. The precedent set by the decision could open the door to rolling back LGBTQ+ rights, contraception access and much more. 

Polls consistently show the majority in the US support abortion rights and Roe V Wade. It’s completely undemocratic that an unaccountable elite of nine people with lifetime appointments are able simply to make pronouncements which attack the lives and rights of millions of people. 

Failure of Democrats 

Of course, the key driver of the offensive against abortion rights in the US is the Republican Party, packed to the rafters with misogynists and religious fundamentalists. But the Democrats, despite controlling all sections of the government on numerous occasions over the last decades, have failed to do anything to guarantee abortion rights. 

The Democrats control the Presidency, the House and the Senate now, and could act to codify the Roe V Wade decision into national law. Instead they respond by telling people to vote for them, while offering no action now to defend the right to choose. This reflects the reality that the Democratic Party is a party for the super-rich and the corporations too, and innately hostile to the building of movements which challenge the status quo. 

Neither the political establishment nor the courts can be relied on. Instead a fighting mass movement from below needs to be built. The leak from the Supreme Court offers a window to bring massive pressure to bear to force the judges to reverse course and keep Roe V Wade. 

Abortion rights were not granted in the US in 1973 because of the benevolence of the courts but because of the impact of the women’s movement, mass struggle and a groundswell from below. Similarly, we have recently seen abortion bans brought to an end here in Ireland, but also in Latin America because of mass struggles by women, gender non-conforming people and working-class people.  

Mass protests erupt

Already protests of thousands have taken place across the US, with many having been called by the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in the US, Socialist Alternative. We need mass protests now, including internationally in solidarity. But spontaneous protests are just a starting point, they won’t be enough. 

An organised movement of resistance, based on the involvement of masses of women, young people and workers is key. This should include walkouts from schools and colleges and strike action in workplaces – the recent victories for union organisation in Starbucks and Amazon show that new sections of workers are looking to get organised. The failure of the Democrats to defend abortion rights points to the need to build a new multi-racial, multi-gendered, working-class party that opposes opppression, exploitation and the capitalist status quo. 

We need system change 

Capitalism is a system based on oppression and inequality. It requires the oppression of women to exist. Any rights we won under this system are only temporary; there is always the danger of new reactionary offensives to try and take them away. While fighting everywhere to defend and extend abortion rights, we should also fight for a society where they can be genuinely guaranteed. This means a democratic socialist society based on equality and solidarity, where wealth, resources and power are taken out of the hands of the super-rich and big business and put into the hands of the working-class majority in society. 

National Maternity Hospital should be 100% secular, public and porgreassive

The resounding two-thirds majority vote in the 2018 repeal referendum vote was undeniably a vote for both abortion rights, and more generally for a progressive, secular Ireland. Building on the Marriage Equality vote that affirmed LGBTQ rights, it represented a watershed rejection of the cruel church-state nexus of repression of the past.

The very idea that in the 2020s, most especially after the grassroots abortion rights mass movement achieved such a victory, that there is even a possibility that a newly built National Maternity Hospital would be anything other than 100% public, secular and progressive is outrageous.

We need: 

  • Public, secular and progressive NMH — it must be 100% publicly owned. Separate church and state 
  • NMH should be democratically run — no establishment figures, church representatives nor political appointees on the board — it should be made up of trade union representatives of the medical and ancillary staff; of users of the service, including migrant and Traveller women representatives, and representatives of the trans community.
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