The Spark

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

Kansas Voted:
The Right to Decide about Abortion Should Belong to Women

Aug 15, 2022

What follows is the editorial that appeared on the front of all SPARK’s workplace newsletters during the week of August 7, 2022.

When it overturned Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court declared it was sending the issue of abortion back to state legislatures to resolve. “Giving it back to the people and their elected representatives"—that’s what the Court claimed it was doing. It said that people in different parts of the country hold different views on the question.

Well, in Kansas, on Tuesday, the “people” opposed not only the Supreme Court, but also their own “elected representatives.”

Kansas is one of those states in which support for banning abortion was said to be high. It is also one of those states where Republican legislators used the issue, trying to develop a voting base for themselves. They made abortion a political issue, instead of the medical procedure it is.

The decision, whether or not to have an abortion, is a terrible one, particularly for working women. Pregnancy carries the potential of human life. Women, facing their own pregnancy, know it. But working women have also seen the difficulties of getting by every day in this society as it is.

It’s a society that doesn’t value children. It puts little money into child care and not enough into education. Employers don’t give most working women the paid time-off needed to have a child, to deal with illnesses, to provide for daily needs, etc.

A woman knows what her own life situation is. Would another child make it worse for the children she already has? Could she afford to care for even one child? And what about her own life?

The decision whether to have an abortion is fraught with conflicting realities. Women don’t need some moralizing zealots to tell them that life is involved.

How dare these politicians, many of whom have never changed a diaper in their lives, presume to make the decision for all the women in the country—or even just in one state?

Well, in Kansas, Republican legislators did try to do that. As in 26 other states in the country, they passed laws making it almost impossible for a woman to choose to have an abortion. The Supreme Court, by overturning Roe, validated those laws.

But in Kansas, Republican legislators wanted it clear. They put an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, giving state legislators the only right to choose.

Well, “the people” stuffed this amendment right back down the Republican politicians’ throats. “The people” came out in large numbers, almost double what was expected. By a vote of nearly 60 to 40%, “the people” said they didn’t want to hand a woman’s right to decide over to politicians.

The vote threw normal political calculations out the window. Some Republicans said they would “soften their language” on the issue—and then, in Indiana, rushed to pass one of the most draconian near-total bans in the country. Democrats said it would become a campaign issue, claiming, “We supported abortion rights for women.”

Supported? Really? Then, in 45 years, why did they keep passing the Hyde Amendment? Hyde was the worst attack on women’s right not only to choose abortion, but actually to get one. Hyde prevents federal money from paying for abortion. Hyde means abortions can’t be paid for by Medicaid; nor by medical insurance for federal employees, for active soldiers and for veterans. Federally funded medical clinics can’t provide abortions or even information about them.

Hyde is re-voted every year. And every year, whether Democrats had the majority or were only a minority, Hyde got more than enough votes to pass. Often it got most of the votes.

This isn’t support. Just as the Republicans do, Democrats look at the painful issue of abortion through the lens of their own political gain.

Abortion is a terrible choice, made necessary because we live in a terrible society which damages human life and the potential that resides in every person. The choice about abortion should not be left in the hands of politicians who defend this society and the capitalist system which organizes it.