Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision to remove federal protections for legal access to abortion, abortion access has declined nationwide. Currently, 14 states have complete bans, and eight have strict restrictions – almost half of all states. Some laws being enforced date back to the 1800s, and others criminalize people who travel for care or mail-order medications. They prevent people from receiving care for serious medical conditions. And those assisting others in getting care can face long prison sentences. Traveling for care has become harder as the number of states with these restrictions grows. This has been disastrous for women’s healthcare.
The post-Roe landscape is a nightmare. In January, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas hospitals and emergency doctors can legally refuse to perform abortions, even to save the patient’s life. In Ohio, Brittany Watts faced felony charges after going to the hospital for the miscarriage of a fetus that had already been deemed unviable. The state grand jury ultimately decided not to indict her.
Kate Fox, a Texas woman, was warned that if she carried her pregnancy to term, at best-case her baby would live for about a week, and she might not be able to have children in the future. She petitioned a judge to get a Texas abortion but the courts rejected her appeal. So much for the idea of legal exceptions! Women across the U.S. are facing horrifying conditions, either from serious threats to their physical health, or psychological stress. In response, many young women have considered suicide or attempted their own abortions. These attacks are part of the broad right-wing assault on our rights, using the courts and the state legislatures as their weapons. Those politicians and their wealthy backers have organized to take back rights that were won in the streets through massive mobilizations over decades. Those struggles forced the politicians to respond and legalize abortion. And the courts responded as well. Many people thought the battle for access to safe abortions was won and the mobilizations stopped. But the rights won under the Roe decision were under attack before the ink was dry on the Supreme Court’s decision.
These attacks on abortion access are not an exception. We are seeing legislation and court decisions suppressing voting rights, enacting new immigration restrictions, removing health and safety and environmental protections, attacking LGBTQ+ people, and imposing restrictions on the educational content taught in public schools.
We are told we can count on elections and legislation to protect our rights, but how could we believe this? Look at the politicians’ response to the killing of more than 24,000 Gazans, their unwavering support for this ongoing genocide in the face of protests, and polls that show that a majority of Americans want a ceasefire. Facing the climate catastrophe – lots of talk. We won’t win or protect our rights through elections or their courts. We can only win and keep our rights by mobilizing our forces. Or, in fact, until we change the whole system.
In the face of these assaults, we must respond. Mobilizing in the streets is the first way to show our determination – to ourselves and others. But demonstrations will not be enough to force those who are attacking us to back off. We need to take that anger and determination to our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. We need to organize as broadly as we can, to mobilize all our forces.
We are the majority, and when we act we can force the politicians and courts to reverse course. We are the ones who have the right to decide our future, and to decide if and when we will have children.
Will we have the right to abortions in the future? It is up to us and what we decide to do to organize our forces to win and keep our rights.
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