Defending Abortion Rights

How can we fight back against the attacks on abortion rights, from Texas to Massachusetts? Mass movements and independent organization, not relying on the Democrats or the courts.

The Boston Revolutionary Socialists oppose the attack on working people’s healthcare — the right and access to abortion. We also say firmly that, from Texas to Afghanistan, the U.S. has never been a force to defend women and trans people. Only we can: workers, with women and trans people at the front.

A new law in Texas, SB 8, is the most restrictive attack on abortion to date. It not only makes abortion illegal after 6 weeks, before many people know they’re pregnant. It not only makes no exceptions for rape or incest. It deputizes individual anti-abortion bigots. Individuals can sue anyone who gets an abortion after 6 weeks or anyone who helps someone get an abortion (such as driving a friend or loved one to an abortion clinic) — with payment up to $10,000 per suit.

This is devastating for women and trans people who need abortions, but it compounds an already awful health situation for workers. Texas is at the bottom of the country for infant mortality; at the bottom for access to healthcare; 37th in the nation for health outcomes. Governor Greg Abbott received a third COVID vaccine shot but has opened the state up,  leading to mass cases and deaths of workers. The same week that SB 8 first passed, the Texas state government announced an end to COVID unemployment relief. So much for being “pro-life.”

But the Democratic Party, its politicians and its non-profit organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and more have put up the weakest opposition possible. Their legal strategy, to try and get SB 8 struck down in the courts, has failed. Instead, the Supreme Court has allowed the law to stay on the books. This follows decades of driving people to the polls, rather than mobilizing them in the streets — where the anti-abortion movement has been able to grow and fester.

We must also be clear: the U.S. has never defended women and trans people, either here or abroad. That is why Afghan women have waged a struggle against not just the Taliban but the U.S. too. In the words of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, “This occupation only resulted in bloodshed, destruction and chaos. They turned our country into the most corrupt, insecure, drug-mafia and dangerous place especially for women.” The Taliban itself was a creation of U.S. intervention in the 1970s — a tool in the Cold War, casualties be damned.

So, why protest, even in liberal Massachusetts? We need to build a movement to defend women and trans people, to build a serious counterweight to the right-wing bigots who have attacked our rights again and again. That also means building an organization that has a strategy and politics that connects our fight together — revolutionary socialist organization.

How Can We Defend Women and Trans People?

  • Repeal SB 8 and bills like it. This law turns every anti-abortion bigot into a paid vigilante by the state of Texas. This is just one of hundreds similar far-right laws enacted in the last ten years to restrict abortion.
  • Pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act. While limited and imperfect, these bills remove state restrictions from the right to abortion and the ban on federal funding and insurance coverage to abortion services.
  • Mobilize to defend clinics and shut down anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers”. Even without SB 8, anti-abortion bigots regularly mobilize in Massachusetts to harrass and intimidate those seeking care. We must counter them and send them packing. Meanwhile, the anti-abortion movement runs “crisis pregnancy centers” which pose as real medical clinics in order to fool people with lies about abortion. We must protest them en masse until they all shut down.
  • Free healthcare on demand — including abortion, birth and gender transition healthcare. To control our own bodies, women, trans people and workers as a whole need free access to healthcare. We cannot separate abortion, birth, and gender transition healthcare from one another, as being forced to pay for one undermines the principle of free access to others. We must have the right and resources to decide whether to have a child or not, and to have our bodies reflect who we are.
  • Paid medical time off and parental leave — for all healthcare procedures, from COVID vaccines to abortion to gender transitions. We shouldn’t sacrifice our bank accounts to see a doctor. 43 countries provide paid parental leave to both parents. The U.S. doesn’t even provide paid leave for the mother.

All of these demands can only be won by a mass movement in the streets and building independent organizations. The Democratic Party, its politicians and its non-profit organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and more have put up the weakest opposition possible. They have relied on voting, court challenges, and apologizing for abortion rather than challenging the anti-abortion movement with a movement of our own.

Build revolutionary socialist organizations that have the strategy and politics to connect our struggles together.