The right of women to control their own bodies — to choose whether to bear children, when and how many, the right to access to abortion — is a precondition for women’s emancipation. And it is in the interest of all workers because it makes it possible for men and women to unite in common struggle as equals in the fight against the bosses and their government.
Under capitalism, even where it is “legal,” the right to abortion is under attack. Since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, women’s access to abortion has been chipped away at. Anti-woman, anti-working-class forces have fought relentlessly to impose waiting periods, parental consent laws, denial of insurance coverage, restrictive time limits and other arbitrary regulations. They’ve driven the abortion procedure out of most hospitals and passed restrictions that have shuttered abortion clinics, making it more difficult for working-class women to get an abortion.
These measures are helped by the character of Roe v. Wade. It was based not on women’s right to equal protection under the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, but left to the “judgment” of a pregnant woman’s doctor and to strictly medical criteria related to the “viability” of the fetus.
But it’s a woman’s decision, not for the doctor, the government, or the church. This fight is worldwide — hundreds of thousands are marching in Ireland, Argentina, Poland and elsewhere.
The biggest problem is not the right wing. It’s the fact that leaders of women’s groups like the National Organization for Women and NARAL refuse to mobilize women and men to defend a woman’s right to choose. They tell us to keep quiet, not to rock the boat, to vote for Democrats who will look out for us.
This has been a deadly mistake and has emboldened those who are determined to deny women their rights and weaken the working-class movement. These same liberal politicians — like Hillary Clinton — think workers are dangerous trash who should be restrained.
Around the globe more and more workers — battered by the capitalist economic crisis — are looking for ways to stand up for the interests of the working class. It is only our class that takes the moral high ground and fights for the advancement of all humanity. Defending women’s right to choose abortion is a central part of that fight.