Mary Ann Curtis with other defenders of Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2021. Photo by Su Mi Ko. Permission is granted to reprint with credit.
Texas abortion bans enforce misogyny, racism and vigilantism
by Mary Ann Curtis, Naperville, Illinois
Texas Senate Bill 8, allowing private lawsuits against people for having abortions, and Bill 4, prohibiting abortion drugs, upend the right to privacy by denying legitimate health care and empowering mercenaries to persecute women, abortion providers, and anyone who helps them. The laws spell death as people will resort to unsafe remedies to end unwanted pregnancies.
Forced parenthood curtails employment and educational opportunities necessary for economic independence. When denied access to abortion, poor people with disabilities or of color become targets of forced sterilization, which is eugenics. This is the opposite of the human right to choose when and if one bears a child.
The loud, well-financed anti-choice campaign is out of step with the U.S. majority who favor abortion access. Texas proponents are squelching the advancement of women under the pretense of defending the “right to life” of fetuses. These entrenched opponents of the right to control one’s own reproduction are no more reconciled to women’s progress than white supremacists are to gains achieved by Black people.
After the Civil War, the KKK operated as a lawless shock troop of the white aristocracy to rain terror on newly freed Blacks. In the 1980s, clinic firebombers served as the terrorist arm of the right-to-life movement. When violence failed, they turned to legislation and lawsuits to undermine reproductive rights state by state. Now, defenders of S.B. 8 and 4, with backing from the U.S. Supreme Court, ask lower courts to stop abortion and mobilize vigilantes to do it!
The right wing’s war on reproductive rights complements its attacks on voting rights and the ability of workers to unionize. It goes hand in hand with their assaults on transgender folks and those who identify as non-binary, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or queer. The far-right’s goal is to destroy the feminist, civil rights and labor movements—all of which demand economic, social and political equality.
Despite current roll-backs, a strong, multi-racial, intersectional movement led by organized labor could recover and strengthen reproductive rights. Today, there are more women, people of color and allies in key economic sectors and in union leadership than at any time in history. Among them are essential workers who have weathered the COVID-19 storm and who sustain the fight for family leave, childcare, universal healthcare, humane immigration policies, voting rights and union representation. Their sheer economic weight and connections to communities they serve lay the basis for a winning labor/community alliance to save and expand reproductive freedom. With broad support, this movement won’t need vigilantism to accomplish its goals!
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Mary Ann Curtis has defended abortion clinics under attack by rightwing vigilantes since 1985. She is an organizer for Radical Women, an international socialist feminist organization.Curtis resides in Naperville, Illinois where she co-led an October 3 rally as part of the campaign to “Remember Rosie Jiménez: National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice.” On December 1, she marched in support of Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court. She can be reached at RW.US@radicalwomen.org.