Socialist Worker

Attacks on abortion in the US meet resistance

Activists are fighting Donald Trump’s new attacks on abortion rights, writes Eleanor Claxton-Mayer

Issue No. 2541

Protest last summer in defense of abortion rights

Protest last summer in the US in defense of abortion rights (Pic: Flickr @JordanUhl)


Donald Trump is on the warpath against women’s rights—but there is also a fightback against the attacks.

Trump and his supporters have suggested that women who have abortions should be punished. And he has reinstated former president Ronald Reagan’s Global Gag rule which removes funding for charities operating abroad that give out information about abortion.

Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has said previously that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable,” although he has not yet ruled on an abortion case.

The US president wants to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade case in which the Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion was a constitutional right. Yet US states are still able to impose restrictions.

People in the US are more confident to take on the right after the huge Women’s March protests.

Strike

A strike has been proposed by the Women’s March organisers who tweeted, “The will of the people will stand.” Some activists have called for this to be on 8 March, International Women’s Day, and are already organising for that day.

Alexandria, a student from Hamilton College, New York told Socialist Worker, “In my home state of Texas, women’s reproductive rights are under constant attack.”

In Texas women are required to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before getting an abortion and the doctor has to make sure they see the image and listen to the heartbeat.

“A majority of abortion clinics in Texas have been closed in recent years making access a huge issue for Texas women,” said Alexandria. “There’s a wave of nationwide solidarity for reproductive rights.”

Figure it out

  • 1.2 million women had unsafe abortions every year before 1973
  • 5 thousand people died every year because of illegal abortions before the Roe vs Wade case
  • 57 percent of people in the US in 2016 agreed abortion should be legal in “all or most cases”

Vice-president Mike Pence addressed the annual anti-abortion bigots’ “March for Life” in January. He said, “This administration will work with Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion.” As governor of Indiana, Pence signed off on laws criminalising abortion.

These resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for Purvi Patel for a self-induced abortion in 2013. She was released after a year when a judge overturned her conviction.

Time and again Pence has voted in Congress to completely defund Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organisation that provides services on reproductive health including abortion.

The US has already seen strikes since Trump took office by taxi drivers at JFK airport and Yemeni workers in Brooklyn, New York.

The Women’s strike is being called as “a day without a woman”. Women are being encouraged to not go to work, or do unpaid and domestic work for one day, to protest against attacks on women’s rights and Trump’s presidency.

The global Women’s Marches were hugely successful.

Now direct action and strikes can build on that success and feed into the movement can beat back Trump’s attacks.


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