This statement by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of Texas and the party’s 2020 presidential candidate, was released June 25.
The Socialist Workers Party plans to redouble our efforts — our election campaigns, expanding the reach of the Militant and the work of party members in the unions — in defending the working class and our families amid today’s capitalist crisis and by fighting for women’s emancipation as an essential part of that struggle.
Workers and farmers face an onslaught by the bosses and their government, who are determined to try to solve their crisis — a combination of soaring prices and a downturn in production, trade and jobs — on our backs. All this is exacerbated by the effects of Moscow’s attempt to crush the independence of the Ukrainian people.
Millions are out of work as bosses impose longer and longer workdays and weeks, low wages and unsafe working conditions for those who have a job. Capitalism’s economic crisis bears down especially hard on the family, with unaffordable housing, high child care costs and rising pressure to care for the sick and elderly. Many young workers find it increasingly difficult to start a family and birthrates are going down. Women face harder and harder decisions about when and whether to bear a child and how many to have.
In 1973 the Militant hailed as a victory the Roe v. Wade decision. But over the years it became clear the court ruling set back the fight for women’s rights and the fight to repeal all laws criminalizing or restricting abortion. Today there are no facilities to get an abortion in some 89% of U.S. counties.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade on a political, not constitutional basis. Its decision shut off a growing discussion and debate to win a majority of the working class to recognize that a woman’s right to decide to carry a pregnancy to term is one precondition for women’s equality.
Fight for women’s emancipation
The starting point for the SWP is there can be no road to women’s emancipation without dealing with the broader social crisis bearing down on the working-class family and addressing the challenges and responsibilities that fall on women as the bearers of new life.
The recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade reopens a much-needed debate. Today popular opinion on the right to choose abortion is more class-divided and polarized than ever. The challenge is to take on this debate as part of defending working people and our families in the face of the growing capitalist crisis.
The recent decision did not make abortion illegal, but instead turned it over to the states and the people. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting,” said the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.
Democrats, the middle-class left and the liberal press claim the ruling will lead to the end of same-sex marriage, legal contraception and other rights. But the decision says, “To ensure our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that … nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh states that the court’s Roe decision does not mean “overruling,” nor does it “threaten or cast doubt” on same-sex marriage.
The “cancel culture” left has made it clear they intend to target Supreme Court justices and others they disagree with for retaliation and shut down any discussion. Since the May 2 leak of Alito’s draft ruling, there have been some 24 violent assaults against pregnancy centers. Claiming responsibility for one of these attacks, a group called Jane’s Revenge says, “If abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either.” Their threats echo the deadly assaults carried out in previous years by rightist groups on doctors and clinics.
A gunman was arrested outside Kavanaugh’s house in June and told police he planned to kill the judge.
A working-class course
Shutting down debate is the opposite of what working people need. We need to discuss and debate how we can join together and protect our families, and why our unions should lead the fight for jobs, better working conditions, access to adoption, affordable child care and family planning, including contraception as well as safe and secure abortion.
Essential to advancing such a fight is answering claims of those driving to restrict access to abortion that they are “pro-life.” That banner belongs to the party that advances a course toward workers power, the only road to begin ending women’s oppression and to protect all human life.
The National Organization for Women in New York responded to the Supreme Court ruling by stepping up its drive to win votes for Democrats. Under successive Democratic and Republican administrations assaults on workers, farmers and women’s rights have accelerated.
The SWP candidates in the 2022 elections point to the need for workers to join together and organize independently of the bosses and their parties. We need to build solidarity with each union fight and build a labor party that advances a course of uncompromising struggle for what our class needs. The stakes are enormous. Working people must see the necessity of taking political power into our own hands.
That is both necessary and possible, as working people in Cuba have demonstrated. Led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement, they overturned capitalist rule and took power. Their revolutionary government fought to remove obstacles to women’s involvement in all social and political activity. It has combated prejudices against women that have existed for millennia and led in founding a women’s organization, the Federation of Cuban Women, to advance that struggle.
The center of the struggle for women’s emancipation today is defending the working-class family. In fact this fight is the road to decriminalize abortion, leaving this decision to women. It’s part of a course to advance the working-class fight for state power to create a society that uses the wealth that we create to meet the needs of the majority, not only to emancipate the working class but also to end women’s oppression.