Social Reaction and the Fight for Women’s Rights

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For free, safe abortion on demand!

For full women’s reproductive services as part of free quality healthcare for all under socialized medicine!

For women’s liberation through socialist revolution!

The wave of social reaction that has swept the country is epitomized by Iowa’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill signed by GOP governor Kim Reynolds on May 4th. ?This bill makes illegal most abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically at about 6 weeks. Iowa’s past abortion law allowed most abortions up to 20 weeks. ?This is devastating legislation for women from young girls to middle-aged as many don’t even realize they are pregnant at 6 weeks. One of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, this bill is not meant to be limited to the state borders of Iowa, but as a challenge to overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) which was the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationally.

As the Des Moines Register reported in “Republicans hope a challenge to Iowa’s fetal heartbeat bill will overturn Roe v. Wade”:

“Republicans who debated the legislation late into the night said they hope their law will face a legal challenge so it can advance to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their goal is to overturn the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, which established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear similar cases in recent years. But as states continue to pass legislation restricting abortions and President Donald Trump appoints more conservative federal judges, such as Justice Neil Gorsuch, abortion opponents are increasingly optimistic.”

The trajectory is to drive all women you are likely to know into risky backroom abortions as was the rule 45 years ago, while the wealthy will always find a way to terminate a pregnancy. ?Even with abortion legal, the number of clinics is on the decline. [1] One of the other effects of this legislation is that the University of Iowa Carver College Of Medicine might lose its accreditation for their Ob/Gyn program.

More ominously, Trump has imposed an executive rule withholding federal funding from healthcare facilities that promote or refer patients to abortion services. They can be defunded for so much as speaking about abortion. Although never completely implemented, this was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991. This is a revival of Reagan’s anti-woman, anti-abortion rule-making that Clinton rescinded in 1994. This is the result of taking the struggle off the streets and leaving it to esquires in courtrooms while the practical availability of ending unwanted pregnancies evaporate with the the closing clinics.

The President of the National Organization of Women, Toni van Pelt, writes:

NOW opposes this heartless and harmful rule, and we will oppose candidates in the coming election who are complicit in denying women their reproductive care rights. We proudly stand with Planned Parenthood and urge all those who support women’s rights to do the same.” – “Donald Trump Won’t Stop Until He’s Put Planned Parenthood Out of Business But, Women Can Stop Donald Trump, Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt

We note that Democrats show no particular reluctance to nominate anti-abortion and/or any other rightist/anti-labor candidates. No reluctance this year when the consequence would be the enforcement of this anti-woman policy, and not in future years when such winners as Joshua Svaty of Kansas will still be lawmaking over your bodies! With reaction in the saddle in the White House AND the Supreme Court, the legalistic strategy of NOW and NARAL etc. will not overturn regressive state laws. Women need to take over the streets and strike capital in the profits (the workplace!)

In Iowa Right Now…

The response to the ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ legislation in Iowa has been protests followed by the typical legal challenges and as always, banking on the Democrats and the elections. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU), Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic have filed a lawsuit challenging the bill. ?And of course, the minority Democrats in the legislature opposed this bill, as do the Democratic candidates for governor for 2018. ?The Democrats are the pro-choice party (i.e. choice if you can travel to one of the dwindling number of clinics and pony up the money), but just like with Medicaid privatization and the attack on public sector collective-bargaining, they are impotent in the face of social reaction. ?And legal challenges are a crapshoot. The legal challenges to the overturning of Iowa’s attacks on public sector unions have not been successful so far.

The Roe v. Wade decision occurred under the Nixon administration with a majority Republican court. For that matter, Iowa’s public sector collective bargaining law (Chapter 20) was passed under a GOP Senate and signed by a Republican governor. ?The difference between then and now is that Roe v. Wade followed the social struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s and gay liberation movement and the protests over the criminal imperialist war against the Vietnamese people which the U.S. lost. ?Chapter 20 in Iowa was won because of illegal public sector workers’ strikes, notably teachers.

State Capitol moral protests, the Democrats and elections are not capable of stopping the sharp attacks on the hard-won social gains of decades. ?There have been many protests and demonstrations over the last few years, but few victories. Racist police violence against the black, brown and immigrant communities continues as does the assaults on what is left of the labor movement, not to mention the ongoing U.S. imperialist military actions. ?Reforms won from the capitalist ruling class can tomorrow be taken away. An independent, class struggle workers movement urgently needs to be built that junks the liberal pressure politics of the ‘Left’ and grabs hold of history-making with the mobilization of workers power, defending our social gains and fighting against the devastation produced by capitalism itself.

Women’s liberation is strategic and necessary in the fight for socialism. ?A workers movement that is not the champion of women’s rights is not going to go very far. A fighting workers movement would take the immediate, felt demands of the masses and act as “the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.” ?The working class needs to be united behind an historic political program of Transitional demands that guides the working masses from the here and now across the bridge to the necessity for socialist revolution.

Labor political strikes are needed today to demand free, safe abortion on demand! The clinics need labor-defense guards and mass labor-centered mobilizations to clear out the reactionary rabble that intimidate and terrorize women seeking reproductive services. ?Abortion, reproductive and other women’s healthcare services need to be expanded as part of a free, quality healthcare system for all. This is a basic human need which the capitalist class and all their apologists tell us is impossible. We say it is impossible under capitalist rule, so reforming health care has become a revolutionary task which only the working class can accomplish. It can only happen through the nationalization of the medical insurance, pharmaceutical, hospitals/clinics, and medical supply industries, without compensation to the major shareholders. ?To ensure equitable and democratic distribution of services the entire industry must be managed under democratic workers control. ?For socialized medicine as part of a rational, collectivized centrally-planned socialist economy based on social needs and managed by democratic workers councils!

To protect women against discrimination, the ERA needs to be passed. To pass the ERA, electing Democratic women legislators is a proven dead end strategy (1975!). ?Women need to build workers committees organized in every workplace to protect women against sexual and psychological harassment and violence. Rank and file committees that stand down the bullies are needed to activate the power of the labor movement to combat sexism and racism on the job and win ERA in the streets.. The Supreme Court now denies workers the right to take collective action on employment issues relegating workers struggling against sexual abuse and harassment to rigged mandatory arbitration. To win against the bosses laws we need to build networks of class struggle caucuses that can take direct and wildcat action against bully bosses and companies that allow harassment; class struggle actions that the Democratic hacks controlling the unions never advocate, sanction or defend.

Along with declaring your right to a decent job at decent, equal pay, we insist upon your right to fully-paid maternity leave that is realistic, and free 24-hour child care! To achieve these goals we call upon militant women workers not to wait for the labor tops to fight for and found the fighting workers/labor party but to adopt a transitional program to bridge the gulf of consciousness from our immediate demands to the tasks required to abolish exploitation and want and build a rational world socialist society.

For a new workers International to fight for women’s liberation and world socialism!

Read our Class War Supplement “Capitalism Means Misery For Women: For Women’s Liberation through Socialist Revolution!

 

 

[1] https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-iowa

In 2014, there were 1,671 facilities providing abortion in the United States, representing a 3% decrease from the 1,720 facilities in 2011. Sixteen percent of facilities in 2014 were abortion clinics (i.e., clinics where more than half of all patient visits were for abortion), 31% were nonspecialized clinics, 38% were hospitals and 15% were private physicians’ offices. Fifty-nine percent of all abortions were provided at abortion clinics, 36% at nonspecialized clinics, 4% at hospitals and 1% at physicians’ offices.[7]

  • There were 13 abortion-providing facilities in Iowa in 2014, and 12 of those were clinics. These numbers represent a 28% decline since 2011 in overall providers, and a a 29% decline in clinics from 2011, when there were 18 abortion providers overall, of which 17 were clinics.[7]
  • In 2014, 90% of U.S. counties had no clinics providing abortions. Some 39% of women of reproductive age lived in those counties and would have had to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion.[7] Of patients obtaining abortions in 2008, one-third had to travel more than 25 miles one way to reach a facility.[8]
  • In 2014, some 89% of Iowa counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 42% of Iowa women lived in those counties.[7]
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