French Perspective: In the U.S., Supreme Court Fundamentalists vs. Women’s Rights

Demonstrators in favor of reproductive rights outside of the Supreme Court {Credit: Kenny Holston/The New York Times)

June 27, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Translated from French.

Last Friday, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion rights across the country. Calling into question women’s right to control their bodies, a right acquired after countless struggles, is unfortunately not a new thing. For example, Poland rolled back a woman’s right to choose last year. The decision of the most powerful, and supposedly modern, country is a dangerous signal to women all over the world, and particularly to working class women.

Six Judges and the Powerful Lobbyists Behind Them

The Supreme Court justices abolished the right to an abortion in a six to three decision, and Donald Trump hailed it as “God’s will.” But this is not just the work of reactionary justices. Of the 50 U.S. states, 13 had already prepared trigger laws, waiting only for the Supreme Court’s decree to ban abortion. Other states may soon follow. In September 2021, Texas took the lead with the so-called “heartbeat law,” that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. This time frame means abortion is impossible to attain in most cases.

Despite the recent school massacres in the United States, on the day before the abortion ruling the Supreme Court authorized the carrying of guns on the streets of New York to satisfy the powerful gun lobbyists. Holy defenders of the “right to life!”

The First Victims: Working-Class Women

Let’s skip over the hypocrisy of Apple or J.P. Morgan, and the companies that announced they will fund the travel costs of their employees who need to go to another state for an abortion. Is this to appear more liberal? Or is it because a survey has calculated that the abortion ban will cost the American economy more than $105 million a year due to complications related to illegal abortions, and the care it will entail, if not death? As always, it is working-class women who suffer the harshest consequences of these attacks, those with the lowest wages, the precarious, and the unemployed.

The Hypocrisy of “Democratic” Governments!

Biden is indignant, but says he is powerless, so as not to embarrass anyone. His only solution, after having called for calm among the protesters, is to make the issue of abortion rights a focus of the Democratic campaign in the next mid-term elections. Fortunately, he was ignored, and the protests have multiplied.

In France, the politicians are trying to make themselves look good, and have announced a potential codification of the right to abortion in the French Constitution, as if that is a guarantee of anything. The same people, led by Macron, are destroying the public hospitals, ending subsidies to family planning by cutting costs, and making it in fact extremely complicated for many women to receive an abortion in spite of the law. It is not the French Supreme Court, but the Court of Accounting that dictates its laws, because it finds health care too costly.

Fighting Social Setbacks and Reactionary Ideas

Here in France, as in the U.S.A., the most reactionary are on the offensive. In both countries, the same people can be found in the anti-abortion, anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist commandos. For example, in 2019 it was the elected representatives of the National Rally (far-right, French political party) who applauded vigorously when state subsidies to family planning in the Rhone (French province) were reduced by 43,438 euros (by 30%). That same ranting occurred on CNews (the news channel of Bolloré, a major French company) which broadcast an anti-abortion film last year.

We stand against all these promoters of backward ideas, and against social regression. We can only feel strengthened by the thousands of demonstrators who turned out last weekend in Washington D.C. and in many U.S. cities to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision. And let us remember that in recent years it was mass demonstrations, and women’s struggles, that won the right to abortion, in Argentina and Ireland.