This fall the Supreme Court has decided to hear a case concerning a Mississippi law restricting abortion after 15 weeks with no exception for rape or incest. This law makes abortion illegal two months before the third trimester, and is in direct contradiction to and a challenge to the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in the U.S.1 The Supreme Court now has a majority of Christian fascist appointees, with Trump’s appointments of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joining others like Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and John Roberts.
For many decades now, reactionary anti-abortion forces, led by Christian fascists, have been passing numerous state anti-abortion laws—with the expectation that legal challenges to such laws would eventually result in a Supreme Court ruling that would either outright overturn or effectively invalidate the right to abortion. Ninety new state restrictions have been enacted in just this year alone.
In July, 228 members and minority leaders of the fascist GOP including Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and 12 governors issued statements calling on the Supreme Court to outright overturn Roe v. Wade. That means we are now at a tipping point where the most fundamental right of a women to determine her reproductive destiny is on the verge of being reversed.
As it stands, “24 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. Twelve states—including Mississippi—already have ‘trigger’ bans in place that are intended to ban abortion if Roe is overruled."2 That would mean at the outset abortion would be almost immediately illegal in a big chunk of the country—and under siege overall by a fascist movement that sees banning abortion as only the first step to putting women back in their place—with birth control, divorce, and the civil rights of LGBTQ people as next in their amped-up fanatical crosshairs.
Abortion is not murder, and the movement against it is not about concern for babies—it’s about control over women. Forced motherhood is female enslavement, it means denying a woman the right and autonomy to decide and control if and when she will have children.
Yet how is this grave, potentially fatal assault on Roe v. Wade being met by those who claim to stand in the forefront of defending this right?
NOT by marshaling our great strength in fully mobilizing the majority of the people who not only support a women’s right to abortion but cannot imagine going back.
NOT by bringing forward artists, clergy, sports figures, intellectuals, on an international scale to stand against this and use their platforms to make clear the huge stakes of the fight.
No, instead of calling for massive resistance now, “reproductive rights” NGOs and activists are preparing for the “long incremental struggle to reverse laws.” They are promoting organizing means to get around the law in “red” states by building transportation networks to the Democratic-controlled states where abortion would still be legal.3 They are organizing mail order nonsurgical abortion (which can only be performed up to 10 weeks) and state laws or Congressional acts to protect the right of abortion.
This losing logic both preemptively concedes the real ability to get abortions for millions of women who can’t afford to travel out of the “red states” AND assumes that you can protect the rights of women in the “blue” (Democratic-controlled) states in the future. It refuses to confront that we are facing a fascist movement with powerful forces at the top of the ruling class institutions of state power that are working relentlessly to seize the ship of state by any means necessary and will not stop at leaving the restriction of abortion to “the states.” The same Republican Party calling for an overturning of Roe v. Wade and the Christian fascists in control of the judiciary have the objective of imposing this as law over all the land, and the statement issued to overturn Roe shows the momentum is on their side. A law has in fact already been passed in Texas to ensure that anyone who aids and abets a woman trying to control her own reproductive life will be persecuted, punished and worse.
History shows that which you will not resist and mobilize to stop now, you will learn—or be forced—to accept later.4
A writing team for revcom.us will be covering different critical aspects of this as things develop.
1. Roe v. Wade gives wide allowance to states to ban abortion during the third trimester. [back]
3. In “‘Two Americas’: Aid groups prepare for more women needing to cross state lines for abortions,” NBC News, Yamani Hernandez of the National Network of Abortion Funds is quoted as saying how people have been "preparing for a long while for an eventual reality where Roe is decimated, and a lot of that has been trying to scale abortion funds. These groups have already been navigating a difficult year-plus, and if things do not go well with the Supreme Court, a lot more travel and a lot more assistance will be needed. Distances to travel will increase and the amount of people travelling will increase." [back]
4. This is to those who say we’ll cross that bridge when we’ve come to it. NO!, we’re already at it! [back]