Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Abortion Rights Will Be Won in the Streets

Last night, a federal appeals court reinstated the Texas law that effectively bans abortion in the state. Enough with the hand-wringing and appealing to Democrats to save our rights. It’s time to take the streets.

Scott Cooper

October 9, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share

For one day, people in Texas got back their access to abortion. Late Wednesday, a federal judge had issued a temporary restraining order on the outrageous Texas law that brought all abortions in the state to a halt. What few clinics had remained in the state reopened, working quickly to provide a health service that ought to be free and available on demand, without restrictions. But then the expected happened: a federal appeals court shut them back down with a ruling last night. 

“Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

There is a powerful lesson here, one that everyone who supports reproductive rights should already know: we cannot rely on the courts or the Democratic Party to secure these rights. The only way we’re going to win them and keep them is through our own action, self-organized and in the streets.

Not once since Roe v. Wade was decided in January 1973 has the Democratic Party, which claims to be the party of abortion rights, used its power to ensure the codification of those rights in federal law. When it controlled all three branches of the federal government during the early days of the Obama administration, not a single step was taken. In fact, until recently, President Biden was a vocal supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents low-income people from accessing abortions.

Even when the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act just a couple of weeks ago in response to the Supreme Court’s refusal to block the Texas law, it was “symbolic.” Far from establishing “a federally protected right to abortion access,” the law — which will not pass in the Senate — actually just establishes something for Democratic candidates to put in their campaign ads for the mid-term elections.

You might be interested in: An Anachronistic Women’s March

How, then, do we win abortion rights? It will take a massive mobilization of the U.S. population to make it untenable for the capitalist politicians to restrict Roe v. Wade further, and ultimately to win safe and free abortion on demand — as part of an overall fight for free public healthcare.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a mass movement, led by women, that forced the hand of the Supreme Court and secured the Roe v. Wade decision. That movement brought together civil rights activists, trade unionists, and others who saw that the fight for abortion rights is part of a larger fight against the many ways in which the capitalist state tries to control people and their bodies.

More recently, masses of people in Ireland and Argentina have shown the way forward. In Argentina late last year, a bill in the Senate passed that made abortion legal and free after decades of struggle in the streets. It was not because politicians saw the light on the issue; it was because they saw the determination of the great majority, which ultimately holds the power — so long as it is put to use.

The Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements. The fact that in 2021 we are still fighting for abortion rights — and are even on the cusp of returning nationally to the pre-Roe v. Wade days — is a testament to the profound bankruptcy of relying on one of the twin parties of the ruling class to stand up for what ought to be an unequivocal human right. The courts offer no guarantees, even if this or that judge might issue this or that restraining order.

Abortion rights across this country will be won, once and for all, only when we make the rulers fear any other course. We have to take those rights for ourselves, and for that we have to take to the streets in massive numbers. It’s time to make this an issue that goes beyond the confines of health and reproduction, and make it an issue about who controls society: a tiny minority or the great mass of humanity.

Facebook Twitter Share

Scott Cooper

Scott is a writer, editor, and longtime socialist activist who lives in the Boston area.

United States

A young couple with their baby in front of the Capitol

Refugees Are Being Stranded in NYC – Both Parties Are to Blame

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been sending buses of refugees to New York City. As the refugee crisis worsens, the Left in the United States needs a clear strategy for solidarity.

Sam Carliner

August 15, 2022
Demonstrators chant in front of the White House during a climate march on October 12, 2021.

Democrats’ ‘Climate Bill’ Puts Polluters before People and the Planet

Congressional Democrats, supported by President Biden, just passed a major spending bill focused on climate change, health care, and taxes. But it’s no win for the climate or the working class.

Robert Belano

August 13, 2022

Our Movement Is the Cure: Fighting for Healthcare Means Fighting for Socialism

On July 30 activists marched and rallied in Washington, DC, calling for a more humane healthcare system. Physician and Left Voice member Mike Pappas spoke at the rally about how capitalism and health aren’t compatible. Below is the text from his speech.

Mike Pappas

August 2, 2022

Michigan Court of Appeals Gives County Prosecutors Right to Enforce Abortion Ban

Today a Michigan Court ruled that prosecutors in counties across the state have the authority to enforce a 1931 law that prohibits almost all forms of abortion.

Tristan Taylor

August 1, 2022

MOST RECENT

Two Turkish military members stand in front of a tank with the Turkish flag in the foreground and another tank with military members is visible in the background.

Turkey’s Dirty War Rages in Kurdistan

Since the beginning of the year, Turkey has been waging a dirty war against Kurdistan, terrorizing the civilian population with chemical weapons and drone strikes. What’s behind the action, and how is Germany aiding the onslaught?

Tom Krüger

August 14, 2022
A black and white photograph of Paulo Freire.

A Critique of ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’

Recently a debate has been taking place inside the recently formed Revolutionary Socialist Organizing Project (RSOP), which centers around revolutionary organization, what methods are needed to politically develop the revolutionary vanguard and the broader working-class and oppressed masses, and other issues.

Kendall Gregory

August 14, 2022

Dictating Rules from Below: The Re-Emergence of Workers’ Councils in Iran

Gianni Del Panta interviews Ida Nikou, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Stony Brook State University in New York. Her dissertation focuses on the labor movement in Iran and how the neoliberal turn has impacted workers' rights and living conditions.

Gianni Del Panta

August 12, 2022

Starbucks Fires Joselyn Chuquillanqui in Retaliation for Union Organizing

Joselyn Chuquillanqui was fired after working at Starbucks for almost 7 years. She is just one of over 70 workers fired for organizing around the country as the company ramps up its union busting.

Luigi Morris

August 12, 2022