On Aug. 28, the socialist-feminist organization Radical Women hosted “The Inspiring Global Fight for Reproductive Justice Event,” via Zoom, inviting women across the nation—and around the globe—to talk about the reproductive rights of women, which are in jeopardy.
The event was timely, as legislators in Texas were deciding to ban abortions after six weeks.
Radical Women is a Left-wing, revolutionary organization, with a women’s movement and a strong feminist voice in mind. Their mission is to combat sexism, racism, labor exploitation, and homophobia.
Feminist mathematician in health research Susan Massey, a member of Radical Women based in Phoneix, Ariz., reviewed the threats posed to reproductive choice in the U.S. and the efforts in motion to stop regulations of this crucial women’s health issue.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade was passed and since then legal abortion rights in the U.S. have been gradually destroyed by the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits use of federal funds for the procedure. An onslaught of state restrictions have also come against abortion, one of which will likely be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as early as this fall.
“The loss of legal abortion will primarily restrict the reproductive choice and bodily autonomy of poor women and working-class people of color especially Black, Native, and immigrant women, trans, and nonbinary people,” Massey stated. “Let’s learn from U.S. history and from the new wins of our inspiring sisters across the globe to unite in solidarity to take on this fight.”
The Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which took effect on Sept. 1 in Texas, put a temporary ban on abortions after six weeks. This is crucial, since many women might not even know that they are pregnant to that point. The new legislation also gives Texas residents the freedom to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion—including nurses, doctors, and clinics—for at least $10,000.
Since this new legislation took place, Radical Women joined the course of abortion right supporters who feel like the country is going backward. They believe that Roe v. Wade might be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Given the conservative make-up of the Supreme Court and their recent non-action regarding the Texas state ruling to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected and turning individuals into antiabortion vigilantes,” Yolanda Alaniz, a member of Radical Women in Los Angeles, said. “I would say yes, they could overturn Roe v Wade. In many states, it’s practically been overturned by pressure from right-wing forces.”
Radical Women has organized a National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice titled “Remember Rosie Jiménez” set for Oct. 3. The date memorializes Jiménez, who was the first woman known to have died of an unsafe abortion procedure after the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1977.
There will be marches and other events organized across the country with a strong set of demands that reflect the whole core of reproductive justice.
“To deny women the right to safe and legal abortion is just another example of femicide. It means condemning women to murder and to a horrible and painful death like Rosie Jimenez,” Alaniz said. “She died from septicemia as a result of a back-alley abortion in McAllen, Texas, on Oct. 3, 1977.”
Abortion supporters say that women who live in states with no abortion clinics will often cross the state lines to get an abortion in a state where it is allowed if they can afford it. Other women find non-professionals to do the procedure, and some women may try and take care of their problem themselves in the heat of their desperation.
California may face a dilemma of its own regarding abortion and reproductive rights.
Alaniz shared that Gov. Gavin Newsom has supported abortion and reproductive services, and also signed a bill in 2019 known as the “College Student Right to Access Act,” which is the first of its kind in the nation. According to Alaniz, this bill requires student health centers at the 34 California public universities to offer abortions via medications. Alaniz also stated that Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1264, which expands access to contraception, and SB 464, which aims to curb maternal mortality among Black women.
“Regardless of who is in office, it will take a nationwide movement to stop the onslaught attack on women, especially when it comes to reproductive services,” Alaniz said. “It is a movement that needs to be built and led by women, women of color, LGBTQ, the youth and have the support of all social justice groups, individuals, and unions to not only keep what we have – not much anymore – but to expand and protect our rights. We have to remember how our foremothers—radicals, socialists, anarchists—fearless women won the right to choose.”
According to a map by the Guttmacher Institute of the 50 states, California is the only state that is shown in dark green as “very supportive,” regarding abortion and reproductive rights.
“Only in building a strong movement will we succeed regardless of who’s in office,” Alaniz said. “In other words, we cannot wait for the Democrats in their shining white chairs to save us; they have proved time and time again, they don’t have the cojones to fight for our interests. They back down and compromise with the conservatives until there is nothing left to fight for.”
The future of abortion and reproductive rights in the U.S. looks a bit shaky. Since 2020, the Guttmacher map shows there are six states that are “very hostile,” and 15 states that are “hostile” toward abortion.
According to Alaniz, many abortion clinics are being closed due to a lack of funding or laws, like the one that took effect in Texas but also the lack of training for many doctors.
Alaniz, who is originally from Texas but has been living in LA for many years, will be organizing rallies and other events here, in the hope to make enough noise for many women and men to join the mission of Radical Women.
“It takes more than one organization to help push that issue to President Biden. The labor unions have a lot of power in the city and the state. Where are they? When it comes to reproductive justice?” Alaniz asked. “Why aren’t they putting themselves out there? And pushing and organizing us? I mean they put millions of dollars into Democratic candidates. Where are they on the question? They should be on the frontline of protecting women’s rights.”
To learn more about the demands of Radical Women regarding their mission for abortion and reproductive rights, go to https://www.radicalwomen.org/.