Sep 13, 2021
A new Texas anti-abortion law that went into effect September 1st is a clear sign that the right to healthcare choices for working class women is under serious attack. More restrictions on abortion have been enacted in 2021 than in any year since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. A total of 19 states have passed 97 new restrictions on abortion.
In the U.S., many individual states have abortion bans in place. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the next day, abortion would be largely illegal in 22 states. This would leave one third of all U.S. women in a state without access to abortion.
The 6-week Texas abortion ban, like many recent bans, relies on a medical myth. The far-right has adopted the deceptive strategy of calling them “fetal heartbeat bills.” Dr. Nisha Verma, an OB-GYN at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains, “When I use a stethoscope to listen to an [adult] patient’s heart, the sound that I’m hearing is caused by the opening and closing of the cardiac valves.”
The sound generated by an ultrasound in very early pregnancy is quite different, she says. “At six weeks of gestation, those valves don’t exist,” she explains. “The flickering that we’re seeing on the ultrasound that early in the development of the pregnancy is actually electrical activity, and the sound that you ‘hear’ is actually manufactured by the ultrasound machine.” According to Dr. Jennifer Kerns, an OB-GYN at the University of California, “What we’re really detecting is a grouping of cells that are initiating some electrical activity.”
The Roe v. Wade decision defined abortion as legal until fetal viability, which the court said means “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb.” These new laws play games with women’s lives to eliminate the fetal viability standard.
The whole of capitalist society is set up to take power away from ordinary people, from working class people, to reinforce and protect the dictatorship of money. By going after women’s independence by restricting healthcare decisions, the goal of the far-right billionaires who back these laws is clear: they do not want women to be equal players in society.
If women can’t decide for themselves when and whether to have children—women also won’t be able to decide their future. Being forced to continue a pregnancy makes women more likely to remain in poverty. It makes women more likely to remain in abusive relationships. It hurts their children. It makes women more likely to die.
This latest far-right push is not going to be slowed down by a court order—the only thing the Democratic Party has attempted thus far. It’s going to take a massive mobilization to turn this around. The sooner working people stand up for ourselves, for our families and the women who birthed us all, the better!