With the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade by SCOTUS people are clamoring to fight back and ensure the right to abortion. But is this enough? Virginia Worker Editorial Board member Sal Rojo argues it’s not
We’ve all heard the demand for a “right to an abortion.” But the mere recognition of such a formal right in practice does not guarantee an actual right of access. This is the fundamental problem of all rights in the United States.
We all have formal rights to many things – freedom of press, free speech, the right to suffrage, but what none of these rights provide is a right to access the resources necessary to make these formal rights practical rights for all.
This, for example, is how we end up with a network of news agencies owned by corporations and the rich – meaning they control what we hear, how we hear it, and why we hear it as they present themselves as unbiased and objective. There’s no right of access to produce our own news as workers– we don’t own newspapers or the means to produce them.
We have the right to suffrage, but end up with a two-party system with rigged primaries that ensure whatever “choice” we’re offered is the result of who the rich want as their candidates for us to “choose”. We have no right of access to the ballot (unless well-financed), to debate candidates hosted by corporate media, to a choice that isn’t controlled by business.
The same is true of abortions and reproductive health. Prior to the overturning of Roe v Wade people had the formal right to abortion, but what’s the point if you can’t afford one?
According to Planned Parenthood the procedure can cost up to $750 dollars— and that’s not counting travel expenses, time off from work, and a motel room for the millions of Americans who do not live close enough to a clinic that performs abortions.
A recent survey revealed that a majority of Americans can’t afford an emergency expense of $1000 dollars, meaning the cost of an abortion makes it impossible to exercise the right receive one.
Since the destruction of the welfare state in the US, Americans have become more and more reliant on the non-profit industrial complex to provide assistance of any kind.
Many pro-choice advocates have become enmeshed in the NGO industrial complex as a way to try to provide some level of access to abortions, and while many involved in this are well-intentioned it’s insufficient to ensure universal access to all those who need it.
Instead of a robust set of guaranteed benefits for workers, we are instead left with the noblesse oblige of our wealthy rulers. But we’ve seen time and time again that their foundations, NGOs, and charities which they use to appear generous and justify capitalism cannot fully meet the needs of the working class.
There now exists a stratum of NGO bureaucrats whose jobs require the management of this artificial scarcity of resources. They materially don’t want to see this current arrangement eliminated as their jobs and overinflated salaries would end if the right of access was ensured.
This stratum of NGO bureaucrats also happen to be the ones who dominate the watered-down, mainstream women’s movement (along with mainstream identity-based social movements), setting policy and political strategy which always channel energies back into the capitalist Democratic Party.
They offer nothing more than lesser-evilism to women, gloss over the class differences between women, portray these issues as if all women have the same material interests and promote a false dichotomy of men vs women when there are plenty of rich women and middle class women who are anti-abortion – it was a woman SCOTUS member who helped overturn Roe v Wade after all.
The movement for reproductive freedom must not be separated from the movement to totally challenge capitalist property relations. When there’s a real threat of revolution, the working class can secure the right to an abortion and so much more; when the revolution succeeds, that right can be safeguarded permanently. ,
Voting or superficial legal reforms will always be vulnerable to being rolled back. We need an independent, militant workers movement organized and disciplined to engage in mass strikes outside of the legislature and against the judiciary to realize such a demand.
As things stand now what’s left of an organized working class movement is marginal and also completely subordinate to the Democratic Party and its lackeys – just as the NGO industrial complex is.
Historically, the bureaucrats within these mass organizations have always been conservative, pragmatic, and willing to sell out the interests of the working class to form alliances with the ruling class and preserve their ownership over all resources workers need to live – including reproductive healthcare.
Until we can break this stranglehold over the working class and build class independence away from the class collaborators controlling the unions and the NGOs all spontaneous mass resistance will inevitably be channeled back into the Democratic Party as we have seen with the Black Lives Matter movement, the Occupy movement, the anti-war movement, the LGBTQ movement, and the womens movement.
Reproductive freedom is too important to be left to the Democrats and their quislings, the gravediggers of social movements– we need to fight to win!