The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

States stampede to overturn abortion rights

Jun 12, 2006

The political sharks smell blood in the water on the abortion issue, and they’re snapping like a shark takes after its victim.

Hoping that the Supreme Court will at some point overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling which states that a constitutional right to privacy means women have a right to choose to have an abortion, a number of state legislatures and governors – Republicans AND Democrats – have rushed to pass laws banning it.

South Dakota paved the way in March, passing a law criminalizing abortion outright. They did this with the aim of giving the Supreme Court a case it could use to overturn Roe v. Wade. Since then, eighteen other states have passed laws that in one way or another ban abortion almost completely.

Louisiana, with a Democratic governor, is the most recent to pass such a law, which would make abortion legal ONLY if a pregnancy directly threatens a woman’s life. The bill was introduced by a Democratic state legislator.

The penalties in the Louisiana bill include up to 10 years in prison and maximum fines of $100,000.

The politicians who push these bills ignore the fact that the big majority of the population, in poll after poll, has shown its support of a woman’s right to choose. All they’re doing is playing to a reactionary religious base that they believe will be enough to reelect them.

This cynical move by politicians is an attack on all women – but especially on working class women. Statewide bans on abortion don’t interfere with the ability of rich women to receive an abortion. It will be working class and poor women who will not be able to travel to states where abortion is still legal.

This attack needs to be fought in the strongest way possible.

In just two months, abortion rights advocates in South Dakota were able to gather over 38,000 petition signatures – over twice as many as needed – to put a referendum on the ballot overturning the legislature’s ban on abortion.

If the vote on the referendum really reflected the population’s sentiments, the ban would be voted down. But relying on the so-called “democratic process” is a sure way to defeat. We don’t live in a democracy; big monied interests hold all the cards. In an issue like this, deep pockets will weigh heavily. Not to mention all the reactionary forces: all the churches, all the right wing organizations, all the Fox Newses, which will flood the newspapers and airwaves constantly with attacks on abortion. All those who want to turn back this attack will need to get organized, to get out and talk to people in order to mobilize them – not only in South Dakota, but everywhere.

That’s what is needed to beat back these bloodthirsty sharks.