In Britain and internationally, women, workers, trade unionists, feminists and LGBTQ+ campaigners need to fight to build a mass movement in solidarity with all those fighting to defend abortion rights around the world. The energy of street protests must be translated into our communities and workplaces to fight back against the sexist capitalist system.
In the US, where the Trumpian supreme court has succeeded in overturning Roe v. Wade, leaving millions of women without the legal right to an abortion, corporate Democrat politicians have been found utterly wanting. It has been left to socialist feminist activists, particularly those organised in our sister organisation to mobilise resistance.
Their combative approach, based on mobilising working-class power, has already been decisive in securing landmark ‘Sanctuary City’ legislation in Seattle. There, Kshama Sawant, a Socialist Alternative City Council Member, used her position inside city hall to mobilise and amplify the pressure of mass struggle outside, playing a decisive role in securing this important victory.
International fightback needed
In Britain, while the Tories would like to tell us that things are safe for women and for all people who can become pregnant, the backwards attitudes of the Tories – starkly exposed by the recent appointment of anti-choice Therese Coffey as Health and Social Care minister – shows that nobody is safe from this party of big business. While direct attacks on abortion rights may not be imminent, the undermining of healthcare services through cuts and privatisation, along with the threat of ‘stealth’ attacks on legal time limits, mean complacency is not an option.
Workers’ movement a force for change
The strongest force for change is the organised working class, because we, the workers, can strike the system where it hurts the most. The growing strike wave which is now set to restart is already revealing the potential power of the trade union movement. That is because it is workers who produce goods, provide services, and generally keep society running. Through strikes and mass protests we can stop the profit machinery upon which the capitalists depend.
Together with the slogan ‘my body — my choice’ goes fully funded public healthcare, a £15-an-hour minimum wage, genuinely affordable public housing, free childcare, and other demands for a decent society for children and their parents. Most abortion in the US (and in other places as well) have roots in economic vulnerability. Guttmacher Institute data showed that 73 percent said financial stress was behind the decision to terminate their pregnancy.
Role of the state
The ultra reactionary ruling of the US Supreme Court, which refers to laws from the Middle Ages, shows how the ultimate purpose of the state is not to ensure that each person gets to live a good and secure life, as it should be, but to serve the interests of a small, powerful elite. It shows that the state, when pushed, will act to preserve the unjust class society with its built-in women’s oppression and racism intact. Therefore we must fight for another system – one based on common ownership over the means of producing wealth, and democratic control by working class people over all aspects of the economy and society.
We are socialist feminists precisely because we realise that to end oppression, capitalism has to be ended. In a democratic socialist society the large economic resources would be owned in common and invested first and foremost into social need/welfare, climate transition and combating poverty, directed to make sure that no gender is oppressed, that every person gets to decide over their bodies, that all children have a secure upbringing and a bright future.
- The right for women and all people who can become pregnant to choose when and whether to have children. Defend and extend abortion rights. For full access to abortion and contraception on demand.
- Real choice! Stand with all those fighting reactionary abortion restrictions around the world. Demand fully funded free childcare, available to all. For decent wages, benefits that reflect the real costs of living and raising children, and massive investment in support for children and their families
- An end to underfunding of our NHS! End privatisation and raise NHS pay. For massive funding increases across the board, prioritising especially those services that have been particularly badly overlooked, such as maternity, gynaecology and women’s health. black women are four times as likely, and Asian women twice as likely to die in childbirth compared to white women in the UK
- A workers and community-led inquiry into women’s health scandals! For a mass movement to confront and smash systemic racism! Real, democratic control of health services by patients and staff! This is crucial to making sure that the experiences of women in the health service are fully taken on board and changes made
- Public ownership of major monopolies, as part of a democratic socialist plan for society. This would free up space for resources available to healthcare for all, while tackling backwards ideas which deny women bodily autonomy