Let’s be clear: the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is an attack on the working class and a victory for the reactionary political institutions of minority rule in the US. Justified by the Court majority’s false originalist logic beholden to a constitution forged in slavery, genocide, and heteropatriarchy, the decision will disproportionately harm our Black, Brown, and Indigenous comrades and those struggling economically in the many states where abortion will soon be or is already illegalized. We must all rise up and fight back!
But to guarantee abortion rights for all, simply voting harder won’t help. The Democrats’ national strategy is no strategy at all. In fact, it’s what got us to this place: funneling all political energy into individualist acts of voting, even as our electeds are accountable only to ruling class donors. Since Roe, voting for Democrats, who have cynically mobilized reproductive rights for fundraising amid countless broken promises, has failed to achieve abortion justice. As voters upon an unequal playing field ruled by capital, we’ve been held hostage by a lesser-evilism that consistently moves the needle to the right. Meanwhile the illegitimate Court, in the service of a white supremacist and patriarchal agenda, and showing signs of Christian fascist creep, has eviscerated the 14th Amendment. While we must continue to vote for and support progressive and socialist candidates—and expand voting rights in workplaces—that cannot be the extent of our energies.
After suffering through two years of pandemic with more than one million people in the US losing their lives, we’re shockingly still left with a horrendous for-profit health care system supported by both Republicans and corporate Democrats, all representing Big Pharma, insurance, and medical industry interests. It’s clear that voting harder is no solution. Nor will it bring back Roe—a faulty, class and race stratified, unequal system to begin with. And the attacks won’t end here. In fact, the Supreme Court decision is part of a broad-based reactionary attack on popular rights won through the civil rights movement, the Great Society, the New Deal, and even Reconstruction, and we can only expect more of the same in the near future—including decisions that may jeopardize our rights to love and marry whom we please, our rights to contraception, and even our right to vote.
The Democrats’ call for us to vote as the single most important response to the Supreme Court decision—as made by speakers at the Santa Cruz rally last Friday—is nothing but a recipe for continuing inaction and disaster.
As many socialist commentators are pointing out, what’s urgently required is expansive working class organizing—joining unions and labor organizations, including those of healthcare workers, with militant feminist, queer, and racial justice organizations, and cross-state support groups in a coordinated effort to make an unapologetic demand for reproductive rights. That includes the right to abortion for anyone with a uterus, including women, trans men, and non-binary folx.
Anne Rumberger, in a recent text in Jacobin, describes what that organizing might look like:
“This could look like sustained protests; occupations of state capitol buildings or courthouses in states that pass abortion bans, possibly with support from activists in blue states; defending clinics from antiabortion protesters, even in states without abortion restrictions which may be especially targeted in the years to come by antiabortion extremists; exposing and protesting crisis pregnancy centers to show the harm they do by preying on vulnerable people seeking abortion care”—including at two local Santa Cruz fake clinics, both exposed here: Pregnancy Resource Center of Santa Cruz (1570 Soquel Drive, Suites 3 & 4), and Pregnancy Resource Center of Santa Cruz (138-B Walnut Avenue)—"supporting those traveling from out of state to receive care in abortion-friendly states like New York; organizing teach-ins about self-managed abortion and spreading the word about where to access abortion pills; supporting legal advocacy groups like If/When/How; donating to local abortion funds; spreading the word about digital security best practices and sharing info about the M+A Hotline for people in need of support for self-managed miscarriage care or abortion.”
In addition to the above organizational goals, going beyond single-issue politics and their divided social fractions is crucial. The demand for reproductive rights must form part of a demand for universal free healthcare—including mental health care, state-funded day care, financial support for young parents, and subsidized prescriptions. Of course, we know this will never be tolerated within the Democrat and Republican-supported present system of commodified healthcare. Which is why this fight can only be a fight for socialism.
As DSA’s National Political Committee writes, “The leadership of the Democratic Party have proven time and time again that they cannot be depended upon to save us. Despite many opportunities to codify Roe v. Wade into law, the Democrats in Washington failed to act. Nor can we rely on our judicial system to guarantee us civil rights. Now more than ever, we need to build a vibrant, militant, majoritarian socialist movement to defeat Republican minority rule, win legislative power, and build a better world that guarantees healthcare as a human right, including the right to free abortions on demand without apology.”
Step up and help us fight to protect abortion as a human right! Join DSA, form a reproductive rights working group and strategize, grow our movement, and build working class power! Email DSA Santa Cruz’s EC (email@example.com) and we’ll help you coordinate!
-Executive Committee, DSA Santa Cruz
Some Useful References:
• DSA National Political Committee, “Fight for Democracy, Fight to Protect Abortion,” June 24, 2022: “The DSA National Political Committee condemns today’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eviscerates the right to privacy and bodily autonomy protected by Roe v. Wade for nearly fifty years, a right the vast majority of Americans support and agree should be protected by the Constitution. The far right wing of the Supreme Court, most of whom were appointed by a President who lost the popular vote, has demonstrated beyond all debate that the Court is an illegitimate institution, flouting the will of the people.”
• Stephanie Attar, “Voting for Democrats has been a dead-end for abortion justice: It’s time for socialist feminism,” Tempest, June 21, 2022: “While voting as a theoretical category may not be inconsequential–indeed, it is a right that socialists should fight for to preserve and expand to other realms, like the workplace– it remains true that voting for Democrats as a whole has proven to be a dead-end when it comes to protecting a woman’s right to choose. To be sure, part of this is due to the fact that the pro-choice movement has yet to resemble anything like the organized political force that anti-choice activists represent. Abortion rights organizations, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood, cling to lukewarm tactics like fundraising or phoning legislators even when a national emergency calls for a more militant mobilizing strategy. But the historical record indicates that there are other, more fundamental problems with the Democratic party that transcend the problems plaguing their voting base. That problem is fundamentally one of using women’s bodies for cynical political gain, coupled with an underlying current of misogyny, rather than a willingness to take a principled stance on women’s equality.”
• Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Statement on Supreme Court Ruling Overturning Roe, June 24, 2022: “As we navigate this decision, we lean on the words of one of the founders of the reproductive justice movement, Loretta Ross:“Reproductive Justice addresses the social reality of inequality — specifically, the inequality of opportunities that we have to control our reproductive destiny. Moving beyond a demand for privacy and respect for individual decision-making to include the social support necessary for our individual decisions to be optimally realized, this framework also includes obligations from our government for protecting women’s human rights. Our options for making choices have to be safe, affordable, and accessible, three minimal cornerstones of government support for all individual life decisions.” We are infuriated. We are in pain. But we will not be disheartened or deterred from the fight. Expanding the court, impeaching illegitimate and racist justices, ending the filibuster, and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act are not radical, but are necessary to protect and affirm Black people’s right to thrive. There are actions we can take to support our communities immediately—like supporting local abortion funds, or providing safe harbor to vulnerable people impacted by this decision. Knowing that liberation will never come from this court, we push forward.”
• Lillian Cicerchia, “Voting Harder Won’t Bring Back Roe,” Jacobin, June 25, 2022: “The end of Roe v. Wade is a disaster that voting alone can’t solve. We need an abortion rights movement that organizes beyond individual elections and fights for reproductive freedom as part of a federal universal health plan.”
• David Sirota, “Voting Rights Alone Will Not Save the Democrats,” Jacobin, January 20, 2022: “The Democratic Party is defined by a contradiction: it simultaneously promises to enrich its corporate donors and solve problems created by those same donors. That impossibility gives us drug pricing policies that would not significantly reduce medicine prices, tax proposals that never actually address inequality, corporate handouts that don’t much help the working class, and health care policy that enriches the insurance companies already fleecing sick people. It also gives us rotating villains who help the party’s rank-and-file lawmakers pull their bait and switch — they get to promise populist legislation they know is already doomed by Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, or some other designated malefactor of the day.”
• Anne Rumberger, “The Abortion Rights Movement Must Now Turn to Grassroots Organizing and Direct Action,” Jacobin, June 28, 2022: “For political and tactical reasons, the movement for abortion access must become more closely aligned with the fight for universal health care and other reproductive justice priorities like universal childcare, federal payments to parents, guaranteed paid parental leave, and a higher minimum wage. Without more support for working families, our reproductive options will always be circumscribed, and our movement for full bodily autonomy won’t be as broad as it needs to be to win against an entrenched and politically powerful conservative right. Sixty-one percent of Americans support the legal right to abortion in all or most cases, and 63 percent of Americans say the government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage for all, a demand that’s been enormously popular especially since Bernie Sanders made it a core plank in his 2016 presidential campaign. Passing legislation for single-payer health care, including abortion care, would be the most effective and equitable way to ensure that everyone has access to the full range of reproductive health care options; it would eliminate the financial barriers that currently limit federal funding for abortion and could bypass state abortion bans if the federal government opened abortion clinics on federal lands in red states, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for at a June 24 New York City rally.”
• Chris Hedges, “Fascists In Our Midst,” The Chris Hedges Report, June 26, 2022: “Supreme Court rulings, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, herald the ascendancy of Christian fascism in the United States.”
• Know Your Enemy Podcast: A leftist's guide to the conservative movement, one podcast episode at a time, with co-hosts Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. How They Did It: Overturning Roe, Pt. 1 (w/ the 5-4 podcast), June 16, 2022: “Matt and Sam are joined by Peter, Rhiannon, and Michael from the 5-4 podcast to discuss the impending end of Roe v. Wade, especially the conservative legal movement's role and the right's use of the courts in how we got here.” And How They Did It, Pt. 2: The Christian Right and Roe, June 21, 2022: “Matt and Sam dig into the origins of the Christian right, their eventual embrace of anti-abortion politics, and how they joined forces with the GOP.”
• Jordan Smith, “In Overturning Roe, Radical Supreme Court Declares War on the 14th Amendment,” The Intercept, June 24, 2022: “Alito’s opinion completely elides the significance of the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction-era addition explicitly designed to address some of the particular horrors of slavery, including ensuring the right of individuals to determine whether, with whom, and when to form a family. ‘These explicit protections for equality and liberty were written into our national charter at a time when the question of what it truly meant to be free, as a matter of law, was urgent and pressing,’ Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in a statement. “The Fourteenth Amendment provided this measure of equality and more. The Court’s conservative majority—which claims to follow text and history where it leads—instead turns a blind eye to these central precepts at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment.”