the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
May 9, 2022
Shock and anger that the U.S. Supreme Court will end federal protections for legal abortion in the U.S. sent protestors into the streets on May 3. A draft Supreme Court opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, leaked to the media on May 2, made it clear that a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy will be used to strike down Roe v. Wade. The leaked draft was confirmed by the court and the official decision is expected in June.
Many people long assumed that Roe v. Wade had settled the issue, that women were guaranteed the right to determine what happens to their own bodies. They further assumed that once a right was granted, it couldn’t be withdrawn. As the draft shows, they were wrong.
After widespread popular mobilizations in the 1960s and early ‘70s—by women and especially by the black population—the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 struck down many federal and state anti-abortion laws.
This elimination of what seemed to be the federal right to abortion will mean the chaos of each state deciding how abortion is handled. The day after Roe is overturned, 58% of U.S. women between the ages of 12 and 51 will live in the 26 states considered hostile to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As many as one in four women has an abortion during their reproductive years. Federal statistics show 60% of women who have an abortion are mothers already, trying to be a better parent to the children they have. About 57% are young women in their 20s.
Women living below the federal poverty line seek about half of abortions. If you include a more accurate picture of poverty—under 200% of the poverty line—that is 75% of women seeking abortion.
This attack on abortion rights is nothing but an attack on low-income women, on working class women. Those with financial means will continue to be able to get to states where abortion remains legal.
Even with Roe, abortion has already become very restricted. There are no medical facilities or doctors to perform abortions in 90% of U.S. counties. There are six states with only one facility in their state. In rural areas there are none.
Because we live in a class society where those with the most wealth are in control, Roe never really protected low-income women. While Roe made abortion legal, it never made abortion attainable for all. To have an abortion requires money, access to transportation, the ability to take time off work, and often childcare for your other children.
The draft opinion of Justice Alito leaves the door open on the “personhood” argument or the argument that the fetus is a person more important than the woman. This adds a dimension to the criminalization of abortion. Low-income women have already faced prosecution for years now for “suspicious” miscarriages. Women have been charged criminally with harming the fetus. A law was just proposed in Louisiana to allow homicide charges to be brought against women who get abortions or those who perform them.
Additionally, in this draft, an argument is made that very few “rights” deserve the protection of the U.S. Constitution. Other “rights” could be stripped away in the future by this reasoning.
Did these reactionary Supreme Court justices, in trying to force their personal anti-abortion views onto the population, just kick over a hornet’s nest? It depends on the reaction of young people, of working women and the working class to see if this broad attack starts a period of struggle.
The capitalist class finds it financially necessary to exert control over women and their bodies. In order to control the whole society as they do, they need to control workers and finally to control women. The capitalist society we have right now is the one they want—the one that makes them the most profit. For women to have full control over their own bodies, capitalist society needs to be torn up, thrown out—in a word, eliminated. It can be replaced by a collective society the working class will build—with women in the lead.