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Women’s Rights Under Assault, Abortion Outlawed In South Dakota

by STEVEN ARGUE Monday, Mar. 27, 2006 at 11:16 AM

The right to abortion was won in the United States in 1973 through a mass struggle in the streets that culminated in the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Women’s Rights Under Assault, Abortion Outlawed In South Dakota


On March 6, 2006 South Dakota’s Republican governor, Mike Rounds, signed into law a bill banning almost all abortions in the state. The bill makes it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion under any circumstance other than to save the life of a woman.

The right to abortion was won in the United States in 1973 through a mass struggle in the streets that culminated in the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. A radicalized movement for women’s rights, born out of the movement against the Vietnam War and other struggles for social justice at home, was sickened by the injustice of women being butchered in illegal back alley abortions and saw the right of women to control their own bodies as fundamental in the struggle for women’s equality.

Today the bill passed in South Dakota is a blatant violation of the law under Roe v. Wade meant to force the issue back onto the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. In response National Lawyers Guild (NLG) President Michael Avery said, "The legislators and the governor of South Dakota have violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. Local officials are obliged to follow the law as declared by the Supreme Court and are not entitled to repeatedly violate the law in the hope that the Court may change its rulings." The 6,000-member NLG is calling for the impeachment Governor Mike Rounds.

Outraged Cecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Souix Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, has voiced her defiance saying, "To me, it is now a question of sovereignty, I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

Women in sparsely populated South Dakota currently obtain about 800 abortions a year. Under the new law women will be forced to take time off of school and work and spend money traveling out of state (or to Pine Ridge). These expenses and hardships are added to the price of abortion in the United States, putting the ability women to control their own bodies and their own lives further out of reach for many poor women.

While abortion is a free on demand health service in revolutionary Cuba, public funding for abortion in the United States was eliminated in 1977 when Democrat Jimmy Carter signed into law the Hyde Amendment that cut off Medicaid funding to 23 million poor women in the US. In response to critics Carter, a millionaire peanut farmer, replied, “There are many things in life that are not fair.”

In the 1980’s, under the Republican regime of Ronald Reagan, the right to abortion was widely seen as under attack. In response mass mobilizations for women’s rights continued to apply the kind of pressure that made the government fearful of inspiring deeper radicalizations by overturning the law. Internationally, however, the Reagan administration engineered major setbacks for women’s rights. In Afghanistan the U.S. gave billions of dollars of military support to the misogynistic Mujahideen that threw acid into the faces of women liberated from the veil and murdered teachers for teaching little girls how to read in write. US intervention brought to power the most rabidly anti-woman government in the world. In Poland the US helped organize and fund the rightwing Catholic Solidarnosc movement that upon taking power made abortion illegal and instated capitalist economic policies that brought about 50% unemployment. In El Salvador and Guatemala Reagan funded and trained rightwing death squad governments that routinely used the rape, torture, and murder of women in an attempt to silence the population.

On all of these international attacks on women’s rights by Reagan’s Republican administration the Democrats of Congress were willing partners.

While Clinton continued the Reagan Bush policy not touching the formal legality abortion he took no real action to preserve the right either. In fact abortion rights suffered more under Clinton than under the previous two Republican administrations as the pro-choice movement became largely demobilized and wrongly saw “effective” and “responsible” political organizing as support for the Democrat Party. Parental consent laws aimed against the rights of teenagers were passed all across the country and between 1992 and 1996 the number of abortion providers plummeted by 14%. While abortion was being chipped away at Clinton carried out a frontal assault on gay rights with his homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” and the poor were driven down even further into desperation with his promise to “end to welfare as we knew it” made reality with his signing of the “Personal Responsibility and Work Responsibility Act”. Not coincidentally this was accompanied by his delivered promise of 100,000 more cops on the streets and an ever-increasing mass incarceration of millions of the poor.

Today in Iraq Bush Jr. has followed in Reagan’s Afghanistan footsteps by destroying another secular government where women’s rights were a priority and replacing it with a murderous anti-woman Islamic government friendly to U.S. imperialist interests. In the United States Bush’s religious anti-woman and anti-sex crusade has gone so far as to oppose letting girls be inoculated by the new Papillomavirus vaccine. The virus is known to be a cause of cervical cancer and the vaccine will save lives. In an article on the subject the New Yorker stated March 13, “The Bush Administration has been relentless in its opposition to any drug, vaccine, or initiative that could be interpreted as lessening the risks associated with premarital sex.”

With its nine lifetime appointees the U.S. Supreme Court will review the law passed this month in South Dakota. If upheld the legal right to abortion will be overturned in the United States. Sitting on that court will be two new openly reactionary judges appointed by the Bush administration, John Roberts and Samual Alito. Their decisions, however, will potentially be swayed by mass movements just as in 1973 the opinions nine reactionary judges were ultimately decided by the power of a mass movement that demanded nothing less than full rights for women.

Socialists stand unapologetically in full support of all women’s reproductive rights including access to RU 486, other birth control, and the right to free abortion on demand as an essential component to the liberation of women and the entire working class. To win and maintain these rights we see the necessity of building mass movements as well as the need to build a socialist movement independent and opposed to the Democrats, Republicans, and corporate media with the ultimate goal of establishing a democratic and egalitarian socialist society.

Women’s Liberation Through Mass Action and Socialist Revolution!

All Power To The People!

Liberation News

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