As the Militant goes to press, the Supreme Court was hearing arguments over a Mississippi law that poses a direct challenge to a woman’s legal right to choose whether to have an abortion.
Organizing to win a strong majority of working people to support women’s right to choose is crucial both for women’s fight for emancipation from second-class citizenship and for the struggles of the entire working class against oppression and exploitation.
A woman’s decision about whether and when to bear a child, must be hers alone. Controlling her own body is crucial if women are to plan and control their own lives. It is not the business of courts, government agencies, doctors or anyone else. All women must have access to family planning services, including birth control and safe and secure abortion if they want it.
This is key to advancing the fight for women’s full economic and political equality and the unity of working people. The proponents of the Mississippi law claim women today have made such great strides in access to jobs, higher pay, more equality in family division of household chores, that they no longer need access to the right to abortion to control their own future. But this is a lie.
Through hard-fought battles, women and supporters of women’s rights have made gains, but oppression of women is an essential component of capitalist rule and class society. The assault on abortion rights today is part of a counterrevolution against the fight for women’s emancipation and an attack on the unity of the working class.
Organizing and mobilizing to win a majority to defend this right can only be accomplished through discussion and debate, and public actions to defend abortion rights, that can help win those not yet convinced.
Abortion was decriminalized in 1973 by the Supreme Court before debate about why it is a fundamental right had been decisively fought out. Liberals on the court bypassed that struggle, legalizing access to abortion on medical criteria of fetal viability, allowing state governments to ban it earlier and earlier.
For decades the liberal-led women’s movement has refused to organize a fight, arguing women should work to elect Democrats and they’ll take care of everything. This has made it easier for opponents of women’s rights to make progress in confusing the scientific and political questions involved. They have systematically attacked and rolled back women’s access to getting an abortion.
The growing number of strikes taking place show that something else is possible. By relying on our own forces and fighting for what we need, workers are scoring some victories that set an example to millions about what our class is capable of accomplishing.
The fight for women’s emancipation is crucial for building the unity of the working class and the bigger class battles that will come. The fight for women’s right to choose abortion is a union issue.
And it is crucial to the coming revolutionary struggles to bring an end to capitalist rule and replace it with a workers and farmers government. This is the road to bring an end to all the oppression intrinsic to class society, including the subjugation of women.