The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.62/No.18           May 11, 1998 
RICO Suit No Help For Women  
Is the recent Federal court decision, NOW v. Scheidler, a "major victory" for women's rights fighters? Will it help to advance the struggle of those on the front lines of defending abortion clinics against rightist attacks?

The answer to both questions is no. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law, and court injunctions will not stop attacks on abortion clinics. In fact, the RICO law, which contains sweeping conspiracy provisions, can and will be used against the labor movement, political parties, pro-choice fighters, and others.

RICO is ultimately directed against the labor movement. "Racketeer" is the word the bosses and other enemies of the labor movement use to describe trade unionists. Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Russian revolution, noted in 1939, "Under conditions of the bourgeois regime, all suppression of political rights and freedom, no matter whom they are directed against in the beginning, in the end inevitably bear down upon the working class, particularly its most advanced elements."

The working-class and socialist movements have a long and rich history in combating government frame-ups and fascist and semi-fascist groups. Experience has demonstrated that militant mass countermobilizations can isolate, demoralize, and deal real damaging blows to rightist forces. Supporters of women's right to choose proved the point a few years ago. After Operation Rescue (OR) forces blockaded a clinic in Wichita, Kansas, for seven weeks in 1991 - with the support of the city government and cops - thousands of young women and others mobilized to defend abortion clinics across the United States, preventing OR from repeating their success. In doing so, they dealt a political blow to the rightists' attempt to posture as the defenders of "civil rights," and reinforced the majority support for the right to choose.

Women's rights are under attack not only from rightist thugs but by the government, with new laws every month that attempt to restrict access to abortion. Restricting or denying the right to choose is part of the ruling-class campaign to heighten the burden on women and undermine their self-confidence. The aim is to reinforce the second-class status of women by taking away a woman's most fundamental right - control over her own body. Affirmative action, the right to abortion, and increased access to birth control are not just important for women. They help unify and strengthen the entire working class.

Women's rights fighters do not need new laws to advance their struggle. There are already laws on the books against murder, assault, and bombings. Use of these laws also makes it easier for rightists groups like Operation Rescue and the Pro-Life Action League to pose as victims of undemocratic laws. The best way to counter these groups is to mobilize in the streets in defense of the clinics and against government attacks on the right to choose.  
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