The United States Supreme Court is poised to savage abortion rights. The threat has to be met with mass revolt.
A document leaked this week shows a terrifying attack on women’s rights. It shows Justice Samuel Alito has written a 98-page draft opinion attacking the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes.
Outrageously he claims that supporters of abortion are eugenicists who are “motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population”. A majority of the court’s judges agreed with this draft decision, and a final announcement is expected soon.
Although not perfect, Roe v Wade has meant a nationwide basis for women’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. If this new decision stands then it will turn back the clock half a century and leave it entirely up to each individual state to decide what abortion rights exist.
The bigots and the right will celebrate. In more than two dozen states, lawmakers have prepared bills that would effectively outlaw abortion if the court overturns Roe v Wade. If the court embraces Alito’s draft opinion it would clear the way for those bills to quickly become law.
Mississippi legislators have already moved to ban abortion after 15 weeks. In Oklahoma, governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation that could outlaw abortion almost entirely, and in Idaho, a ban on abortion after six weeks is temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court.
In Texas last year the state imposed a ban on most procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. When he was president, Donald Trump packed the court with conservative figures for precisely this sort of decision.
Removing Roe v Wade may not hugely affect how many women have abortions. It will mean many more die from unsafe and illegal abortions.
The court is trampling on democracy—over 60 percent of people in the US back abortion rights. The Roe v Wade decision was a product of a period of struggle over women’s rights and many other issues.
Defending those rights can’t be left to president Joe Biden and the Democrats. They are terrified of the radical measures needed to weaken the court, let alone abolish it as they should.
Protests began within hours of the leaked Roe v Wade ruling appearing. Now there needs to be much more. In 2017 up to five million people took to the streets for the Women’s Marches after the inauguration of Trump.
It will take a mass street movement on this scale, and larger, to beat the attack on abortion rights. This movement must also battle for the expansion of abortion services.
And in Britain, we need full solidarity with that movement and in support of women’s rights here too.
About 50 people joined an emergency protest outside the United States embassy in London on Tuesday to show solidarity with women across the US facing an assault on their right to abortion.
Speakers said attacks on abortion rights anywhere would mean our government can feel empowered to do the same. Phoebe from Unison told the protesters, “Waking up to the news was a massive shock. There needs to be a big step up in our trade unions’ response, to stop any more pushbacks on abortion rights.”
Madeline, an activist originally from the US, told Socialist Worker she wasn’t surprised that the Supreme Court had made this attack. “We’ve seen a rise in the push for more states’ rights, and the inactivity of moderate Democrats to do anything to preserve abortion rights.”
She added that these attacks would hit poor and black women hardest and force women to have to travel for care. Protesters chanted, “My body, my choice” and “Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate.” More protests are likely soon.
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