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
Nov 21, 2022
In each of five states that had a referendum on the ballot that addressed a woman’s right to choose, the population upheld abortion rights. In Kentucky, a constitutional ban on abortion was blocked by the population. In Michigan, California and Vermont a right to choose abortion care was added to the state constitution. In Montana, a confusing measure was defeated that aimed to label any aborted fetus as a “live birth.” A Kansas referendum, held in August, also upheld abortion rights.
In all six states, organizing happened either to collect signatures or to get out the vote. This shows the power that people in large numbers have when we decide something is just not right.
A female commentator from Michigan said of the Supreme Court decision ending Roe, “Losing a fundamental right [women] have had for almost 50 years? That wasn’t just a ‘summer blip’ of an issue. It was an earthquake that kept people motivated.”
What the Supreme Court did was lift the veil off what had already happened to abortion rights and give a green light to the far right to take things further. Whittled away by a thousand cuts, beginning not long after Roe, abortion had already become difficult to access and difficult for working people to afford in much of the U.S.
The winnowing away of abortion rights began in 1976. The Hyde Amendment, a rider to the federal government’s annual spending authorization that has been renewed and expanded to this day, blocks spending federal funds on abortion care.
Attacks on access to abortion accumulated: by the year 2000, 87% of all the counties in the U.S. had no abortion provider—no hospital, no clinic, no physician able to perform an abortion. The problem was worse in rural areas where 97% of counties had no provider.
The U.S. Supreme Court said in their ruling overturning Roe, the Dobbs decision, that they were turning it back to the states to decide. This allowed the criminalization of abortion care—a vital part of women’s healthcare. In a world where prenatal healthcare is abysmal and capitalist society will not provide a decent existence to every one of its members, abortion is a sad necessity.
The Dobbs decision alarmed a part of the population that immediately understood that in addition to women’s rights, many popular rights would be next on the chopping block.
Maybe not in these words, but in the spirit of the old slogan of the Industrial Workers of the World, an injury to one is an injury to all, the idea that all civil rights are under attack became a motivating factor. Broad layers of the population came out to vote in these four states to say no to attacks on abortion rights. And by implication, no to whatever might be under attack next!
Now the fight will have to continue, as politicians will not want to enforce these referendums. The “progressives” will not stand up to the corporations to wrench from them the public health money it would take to have quality healthcare for all and make abortion accessible. And the far right will fund attacks to keep trying to push women and families back to the wretchedness of bygone eras.
The work needed to protect abortion rights and all the rights under attack has only just begun. But it has begun!