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Vol. 78/No. 39      November 3, 2014

Defend a woman’s right
to choose abortion!
(front page)

The following statement was released Oct. 22 by John Studer, chair of the Socialist Workers National Campaign Committee.
The Socialist Workers Party campaign joins in defending women’s right to safe, legal abortion, which is under attack in Texas and elsewhere. This fight is crucial both for women’s rights and for the labor movement. And like other important social battles, it shows the need for the workers movement to organize its own political party, a Labor Party, to champion the fight for the interests of working people.

Since World War II, women in the U.S. have joined the workforce in ever greater numbers. This trend continues to unfold across the globe, boosting women’s self-confidence and expectations and transforming attitudes of male co-workers.

Out of these social changes, a movement of women who refused to accept second-class status emerged, demanding reproductive freedom alongside the right to equal pay and job opportunities.

By 1973 — amid rising support for a woman’s right to choose and changing social attitudes opened by earlier victories won by the mass proletarian battle for Black rights — the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws criminalizing abortion. This victory strengthened the ability of working-class women to control their own bodies and lives. This is key to unifying the working class and forging a class struggle leadership that can wage a fight for political power.

Since then, as the capitalist crisis has deepened and the bosses have increasingly stepped up attacks on the labor movement, including the part of it that is female, sections of the propertied rulers have backed relentless efforts to restrict access to abortion — from prohibiting federal funding to imposing waiting periods and parental consent requirements to requiring clinics to meet hospital standards most cannot afford. All these restrictions target working-class women.

These attacks are part of a broader ideological campaign against women to undermine their confidence, drive down the value of their labor power and divide the working class.

At the same time as they target women, the propertied rulers have mounted attacks on the voting rights of working people in a number of states, seeking to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of workers, disproportionately African-Americans.

Class struggle history teaches that winning and defending rights critical to the working class — from free speech to the right to form unions to voting rights for Blacks to women’s rights — requires independent working-class political action.

Support for the right to abortion runs deep among workers and farmers. It is only by relying on the backing and mobilization of working people that a woman’s right to abortion can be protected and extended. There are no “friends of women” among the politicians of the bosses two parties, the Democrats and Republicans, any more than there are “friends of labor.”

The Socialist Workers campaign fights to overturn all restrictions on women’s access to abortion, without interference from the state or anyone else.

Across the country today workers are beginning to fight to resist attacks by the bosses and their government on our wages, safety on the job, health care and retirement pay, and our social and political rights.

This shows the potential to mobilize to defend a woman’s right to abortion, as well as strengthen our voting rights. It points to the need for labor to break from the bosses’ parties and organize a Labor Party, sorely needed to champion the fight for the needs of working people.
Related articles:
New abortion curbs in Texas target working-class women
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