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

Pushing Women back to the Age of the Coat Hanger

May 11, 2015

Women in Oklahoma now have to wait 72 hours after seeing a doctor before the doctor can perform an abortion. In Florida, women will wait 24 hours, then go to two separate appointments, one where they are forced to look at an ultrasound and another to listen to an unscientific lecture on fetal development, before they can have an abortion.

Do these restrictions seem just like small “nuisances”?

“Nuisances”? They are nothing but attempts to make abortion illegal without openly saying it. And sometimes it’s even said. Wisconsin legislators just proposed to impose a 42-month prison sentence on any doctor who performs an abortion after 20 weeks.

In the last four years alone, more than 200 pieces of legislation limiting access to abortion were enacted into the “law of the land.” This year, 300 more have been introduced into state legislatures, awaiting passage.

There are consequences. There are only half as many women’s clinics able to perform abortions in Texas as there were four years ago. In most Mountain and Plains states, and in many Southern states, so many clinics have closed that there are only one or two abortion providers for the whole state. In the country as a whole, 87% of all counties no longer have even one abortion provider.

In other words, a pregnant woman has to travel—often hundreds of miles—only to discover she must wait for 24 or even 72 hours. Either she pays for a hotel room, or travels all that distance back again. And if she can jump through those hoops, she discovers that women haters have devised still another restriction to prevent her from having what is, medically, a very simple procedure.

No one should ever pretend that to have an abortion is an easy choice for a woman. The potential of a human life, after all, is being terminated. But how dare these women haters think they have the right to dictate to a woman what she can and cannot do? It’s her body, her choice. Not theirs.

Let them get their filthy hands off women’s bodies. And let them choke on their own lies when they pretend that their restrictions have only one aim: “to safeguard the health of women,” as they say.

Safeguard the health? How? By forcing women once again to depend on back alley abortionists? By forcing women into a situation where they try to self-abort, using all the chemicals or mechanical means that women once used—and died from? The coat hanger was not just a myth. Thousands died before 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, when laws directly making abortion illegal were declared unconstitutional.

Working class women were the ones who died or gave birth to more babies than they could safely raise. Wealthy women always had access to abortion under safe, medically supervised, hygienic conditions.

Working class women are the ones who will die again. Are dying.

The attack on women’s right to control their own bodies is part of a much larger attack going on today, pushing all of society into the most backward, reactionary dead-ends. It is not simple coincidence that the organized right-wing forces pushing the attack on women’s access to abortion are the same forces that organize the attack on workers’ rights to organize a union or to strike, the same forces that pushed through all the laws used to criminalize whole generations of black youth.

These attacks on the population, and particularly the working class part of the population, are funded and organized by virulently reactionary billionaires. Peddling superstition, racism, disdain for women, religious obscurantism—they create an increasingly inhumane society.