Anti-Abortion Laws, expression of a regressive social system

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In various states of North America, restrictions against abortion have been approved since 2019; however, these laws have remained inactive due to the validity of the 1973 Roe vs Wade court ruling, which allows medical intervention for the termination of pregnancy. A few weeks ago, on May 2 of this year, the website "politico.com" published a document from the Supreme Court of the United States, in which it is announced that legal action will be taken to make abortion illegal. This document is signed by Justice Samuel Alito, although it is considered to be supported by Clarence Thomas, in addition to the 3 judges incorporated in the Trump administration: Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. If passed, the new law would maintain medical care for women who choose to have an abortion, but only in some states. There are a large number of women who will not be able to move elsewhere, so they will be forced to use procedures that do not have the required sanitation and medical surveillance, putting their lives at risk. The USA is already the country (among the most industrialized) with the highest maternal mortality rate[1].

According to midwife Aza Nedhari, during pregnancy, the majority of expectant mothers, especially those with high-risk pregnancies, have to go to hospital for tests and to give birth. Nedhari explains that for most women in the south of the city [Washington DC where she works] this means they have to travel for well over an hour each way. It's also often difficult for pregnant women with insecure jobs, or children, to attend all their check-ups.[2] And now, with the anti-abortion ruling, this problem will be magnified, since women, especially working women who do not have the money and time to travel to cities where they can be seen by qualified doctors, will be forced to resort to dangerous operations. As the Bolshevik militant Alexandria Kollontai stated, the dilemma faced by women is not whether or not to have an abortion, but whether to have it clandestinely or in adequate medical conditions[3].

If the criminalization of abortion is enforced, the health conditions of the working women population will worsen even more; but it should be added that in some states, such as Texas, highly persecutory and stigmatizing policies are being prepared, while laws which would outlaw abortion await the Supreme Court’s official ruling that would offer rewards of $10,000 for those who file a complaint against those who are suspected of having had an abortion or helped someone to do so. All this highlights the fact that the bourgeoisie is already a rotten class that engenders ever more oppressive ideologies and practices, renewing the worst conditions of the past. If in 1912 Rosa Luxemburg denounced the deprivation of women’s political rights as anachronistic and incompatible "in the era of electricity and airplanes"[4], then in the 21st century, the pretension of imposing laws that limit women's decisions and affect their health conditions reveals itself to be even more reactionary and regressive.

The growth of irrational and regressive thinking in the conduct of the bourgeoisie

One of the characteristics of the process of decomposition that corrodes the capitalist system is revealed in a loss of social perspectives, which leads the bourgeoisie to lose control of its political apparatus and to an ideological confusion that brings about a resurgence of the religious spirit and a rejection of rational thought. This is not only present in the less developed countries but also advances with great speed in the more industrially developed countries (as in the case of the USA).

The spread of delusions rejecting scientific arguments based on incoherent and superstitious ideas has led representatives of States, as in the case of Trump, to deny global warming, or bourgeois groups to push for laws based on myths and religious prejudices, as they have done in Louisiana (in 2005), where creationist speculations were incorporated into school curricula, or as they intend to do now with abortion. In this case, they not only recover religious ideas to define the biological origin of a human being, but also recycle the most reactionary and retrograde ideas in the conception of the female condition.

But if it is true that the bourgeoisie, with its anti-abortion measures, increases oppression and degrades women even more, this does not validate the responses presented by groups of "citizens", "feminists" and the Democratic Party itself, who suppose that the oppressive condition of women can be remedied with the recognition of their "reproductive" and "civil" rights.

No women’s liberation without the destruction of capitalism

Capitalism is a system that lives by exploitation and in which the oppression of women is a daily practice, even when governments hypocritically claim to promote "gender equality". But the oppression of women, as well as other problems such as discrimination against gay or transgender people, racism or ecological destruction cannot be solved within capitalism. The ruling class uses the very problems engendered by capitalism to confuse and diffuse discontent by inducing the idea (whether from its left and right-wing parties, or through feminist and civil rights organizations) that capitalism can offer solutions to partial problems by simply appealing to law and democracy.

Thus, in the case referred to in the U.S., the big demonstrations (in mid-May) against the attempt to make abortion a crime do not present these attacks as a practice of capitalism, but as an attack on "gender equality" and "women's rights". That is why the bourgeoisie has captured the discontent, directing it to be exploited to promote the upcoming mid-term elections, which in the U.S. will be held in November of this year. In this way, the bourgeoisie has utilized the anti-abortion law as election bait. Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, lamenting that his party does not have a majority, misses no opportunity to call on voters to elect more Democratic senators to put the 1973 measure allowing abortion into federal law[5].

This is why the calls to carry out a struggle for “partial” demands, i.e. demands on an inter-classist or openly bourgeois basis, become instruments used by the bourgeoisie to sterilize proletarian discontent, by melting the only revolutionary class into an amorphous mass, in which its objectives of struggle are subjected to those of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. That is why, as we point out in our Platform, these partial struggles "...far from reinforcing the vital autonomy of the proletariat, tend on the contrary to dilute it into a mass of confused categories.... this is why bourgeois governments and political parties have learned to recuperate and use them to good effect in the preservation of the social order."

The oppression of women under capitalism is a problem that cannot be eliminated without first ending this system. Small changes in macho culture or the modification of laws cannot bring about the change of the situation in which the majority of women live. The true emancipation of women depends on the emancipation of the working class. The proletariat, Marx explains, "...cannot emancipate itself without abolishing the conditions of its own life. It cannot abolish the conditions of its own life without abolishing all the inhuman conditions of life of society today which are summed up in its own situation... "[6] Therefore, the fight against the degradation and oppression that women experience requires the development of the proletarian struggle, in which all divisions within the class – sexual, racial, etc – can be confronted and overcome, and which alone can raise the perspective of the abolition of all forms of oppression, and the construction of the real human community – communism.

30 May, 2022

 


[1]Maternal mortality is a health indicator of the female population that measures the death of women while pregnant or within 42 days after childbirth. To have a point of reference of the problem, let's compare the 2017 mortality rate for some countries: Guatemala: 95 deaths per 100,000 live births, Mexico: 33, the European Union; 6, while in the USA, in that same year, there were 19 deaths and by 2020, adding the effects of the pandemic, the number of women who died grew to 92. Of that total, 19 corresponded to white women, 18 Latin-American women and 55 African American women.

[3]Cited by Daniel Gaido, et al, in Historia del socialismo internacional, Ariadna Ediciones, found at https://books.openedition.org/ariadnaediciones/6414?lang=es

[4]R. Luxemburg, “Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle”, 12 May, 1912.

[5]Los Angeles Times, May 10th, 2022

[6]Marx, The Holy Family (1844)

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USA