The Failure of Reformism In the Battle for Reproductive Rights

Women’s Marchers, Chicago, 2021

By: June Vass, Red Phoenix Correspondent California

As the upcoming Supreme Court review of Roe v Wade looms nearer, ongoing delays in addressing legal barriers to reproductive healthcare on the state level continue to endanger the well-being of all but the most affluent Americans. The inadequacy of the bureaucratic structures of our legal and political systems makes evident the lack of justice and equity in our nation, and demonstrates that the interests of the working class are in desperate need of direct representation. Attempts to work within these frameworks and to pass reforms have clearly shown to be ineffective in addressing the real needs of the American people, as reforms can never guarantee progress in a system that always allows for the potential to backpedal.

The challenge against Texas’ SB8 abortion ban continues to face bureaucratic obstacles while people in need are left without access to timely medical care. The attempts to repeal this drastic and unethical restriction have been pushed out once again, and the case now heads to the Texas state Supreme Court as of January 2022. Meanwhile, the ban is legally in effect and people in need of reproductive care – including, but not limited to, abortions – are left with few options. These delays affect not only patients’ physical health but can also incriminate others for even the most loosely related actions. The seemingly innocuous acts of donating to a fundraiser or giving someone a ride to a medical facility can result in lawsuits with hefty fines and court fees which disproportionately affect members of the working class, many of whom already struggle to thrive in current economic conditions. This law makes Texas just one of twelve states implementing regressive policies that restrict or ban access to abortions and other reproductive health services.

This summer, the US Supreme Court is expected to make a decision that could overturn and repeal federal legal protections for abortions. The Supreme Court ruling on the case of Roe v Wade in 1973 determined that access to abortions is a fundamental constitutional right, but also that the procedure can still be subjected to certain restrictions implemented by state legislators. Although it was decided that abortion access is protected simultaneously under four existing constitutional amendments, this monumental decision has faced opposition for nearly 50 years. If Roe v Wade is successfully overturned then the legality of abortions will be left open for each state to determine, at least 26 of which are expected to ban the procedure, according to research by the Guttmacher Institute.

In a national system where legislators and judges are seemingly divided on the surface by differing party banners, yet united in essence by their shared loyalty to the same ruling class, any successes gained from reforms will forever be in danger of abolishment and further regressions that render them ineffective if not outright harmful to the people living in the United States. After a century of reform efforts by the women’s movement, ever at the head of the struggle for justice in the US, which culminated in the largest street protests the history of the country a few years ago, the stark reality in the post-Trump era is that, as Rosa Luxembourg said, “Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society, reformists take a stand for surface modifications of the old society.” It falls on working class women across the country to organize and push past these limitations and forever establish our right to bodily autonomy, economic equality, and political power.

Categories: U.S. News, Women

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