Amidst a global pandemic that has thus far killed tens of thousands of people, Texas Republicans are taking advantage of the public’s fear and uncertainty to increase state control and restrict access to vital medical procedures. A recent order from the Texas Attorney General’s office banned abortion procedures for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, calling this vital health treatment a “non-essential medical procedure.” This “pro-life” ban is extremely hypocritical, coming the same week that Texas Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that older people should be willing to die for Wall Street.
This ban, a total prohibition of abortion outside of an undefined “health of the mother” exception, is disastrous and cannot remain in effect. Abortion access is essential, vital, and time-sensitive. The already short window of time for a pregnant person to get an abortion in Texas, only up to 20 weeks after fertilization, has now been eliminated entirely. Pregnant people cannot simply wait out this pandemic. Every day under the abortion ban affects the lives of hundreds of Texans. Based on past data, Texas clinics perform nearly 1,000 abortions a week. This means that thousands of Texans will be forced to carry out their pregnancies or may even turn to unsafe alternatives.
This is the most recent of constant attacks on bodily autonomy such as the heartbeat bills passed in recent years, restricting abortion access in several states including Texas. While Republicans have aggressively pushed these restrictions, Democrats have failed to build a real resistance to challenge the anti-woman and anti-worker right wing. Decades of Democrats’ business-friendly glass-ceiling feminism has failed completely to keep at bay Republicans’ misogyny and social conservatism, much less advance the rights of working women.
Capitalism Has Made the Pandemic Worse
While the right-wing tries to justify the abortion ban as a needed response to the pandemic, it is clearly a cynical attempt to cover up for the establishment’s failure to respond effectively to the virus. Capitalism has created this public health crisis by failing to invest in our health care system for decades, resulting in too few beds and not enough masks and basic medical equipment. Now it seeks to force working people, and through the ban women especially, to pay for its failures. Instead, a socialist response to the pandemic is needed.
Medicare for All, already supported by most working people, is getting a surge of support. A universal health care plan is vital in ensuring reproductive health, both in preventing unwanted pregnancies and guaranteeing access to safe abortion. Health care for every American should include comprehensive sex education; access to contraceptives; and allow access to safe, free, and legal abortions without restrictions.
Socialists also want to eliminate the financial barriers to starting a family. Alongside the fight for universal health care, we need to fight for living wages, paid parental leave, and free high-quality childcare so that people who want children are not forced to make a difficult choice. No family should be prevented from having children due to poverty, yet the right wing insists on calling themselves “pro-life” while also leaving millions of children without access to food or medical care.
Workers and Women Can Fight Back
The ban has already gathered widespread attention and condemnation. Among others, activist and television star Jameela Jamil retweeted the headline, citing the ban as an “unfathomable crime.” Planned Parenthood and health care providers have filed a lawsuit, but this time-consuming process in the courts is not enough! Working women organizing in their workplaces and in society, not legal arguments, won the right to an abortion. Even during this time of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, we can still build a fightback against the right wing’s misogyny.
From nurses in California and New York to Amazon workers across the country, working people have come together to fight for better conditions and pay. Texas nurses, essential workers, and other working people could follow these examples and demonstrate for an end to the ban. As protests in other states make clear, we can fight and demonstrate safely during the pandemic.
Finally, a petition is an important way, under pandemic conditions, to both express and organize opposition to the abortion ban. It is important to show a united opposition to this disgusting exploitation by right-wing politicians. Please sign the petition and join the fight against the abortion ban!
Ultimately, this attempt to ban abortion is another example of why politics as usual isn’t enough to meet the needs of women and working people. Instead, we need an organized mass movement, with a strong socialist feminist component, fighting for healthcare and other needs of working class women.
- End the Ban! For abortion access throughout the crisis. Stop the right-wing attacks on women’s bodies!
- Grant access to the abortion pill! Allow pregnant people to access safe abortions at home while practicing social distancing.
- Medicare for All! Abortion should be free, legal, and accessible.
- Take medical providers and Big Pharma into public ownership. If medical resources are scarce, then we need democratic planning to effectively allocate them. No profiting off the virus!