Maine News: Activists protest outside Maine mansion of conservative Supreme Court architect / by Evan Popp

Photo: Activists at the protest by Leo’s house on Saturday | Tina Stein  

Activists in Maine protested Saturday outside the Northeast Harbor home of Leonard Leo, the co-chairman of the Federalist Society who has played a leading role in building the conservative Supreme Court majority that recently overturned federal abortion rights. 

Leo famously developed a list of right-wing jurists that included all three of President Donald Trump’s eventual nominees to the bench. Each of those justices — Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett — joined in a June court ruling described by advocates as “dangerous and chilling” that overturned Roe v. Wade

The New Yorker has called Leo “in effect, Trump’s subcontractor” on high court nominations. And a writer with the National Review stated in 2016 that, “No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade than the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo.”

Leo bought a nearly 8,000 square foot mansion in Northeast Harbor — on Mount Desert Island — during the fall of 2018. In 2019, activists protested outside the house when Sen. Susan Collins attended a private campaign fundraiser there. 

Collins, a Maine Republican, famously cast a pivotal vote in favor of confirming Kavanaugh, one of the conservatives Leo helped elevate to the court, and also voted for Gorsuch. Activists warned that both were hostile to abortion rights, but Collins — who says she is pro-choice — still voted for them, arguing they would respect precedent set by Roe. Wade. Both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, however, ultimately voted to overturn abortion rights.  

A participant at the protest Saturday | Courtesy photo

Saturday’s protest was the continuation of a number of rallies outside Leo’s mansion, including one in June at which participants celebrated the elevation to the Supreme Court of President Biden nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson and gathered to let Leo know “we are for justice, equity and love, not hate.” 

Dixie Hathaway, one of the people at the demonstration over the weekend, said the goal of the rally was to “raise awareness that this person is the one who’s primarily responsible for our Supreme Court and for all the horrible” rulings the court has made. She noted that such awareness is important given that many people don’t know who Leo is. 

“We would like to make him feel uncomfortable,” Hathaway said, adding that some participants have contacted local nonprofits that receive money from Leo to let them know about his background and to make the argument that his donations are “intended to buy acceptance in the community.” 

Hathaway said the court’s June abortion decision is just one harmful ruling the majority Leo helped seat has recently made. During the last term, right-wingers on the bench also severely limited the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to combat climate change and struck down a New York gun control law. 

Hathaway and another demonstrator, Tina Stein, both told Beacon that Leo seemed upset by the protest on Saturday and that the police were called about the demonstration, and Hathaway shared a photo with Beacon of an officer on the scene. However, she said activists stood their ground.

Overall, participants have had a number of productive conversations with people passing by during the demonstrations, Hathaway added. She said many of those people know about Leo and are sympathetic to the protests. 

An attempt to reach Leo for comment about the rally was unsuccessful. 


Evan Popp studied journalism at Ithaca College and interned at the Progressive magazine, ThinkProgress and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He then worked for the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper before joining Beacon. Evan can be reached at evan@mainebeacon.com.

Maine Beacon, July 25, 2022, https://mainebeacon.com/

FDR Was Right to Attack the Supreme Court’s Power. Democrats Should Do the Same Today / by Davis Sirota

Franklin Roosevelt signs Social Security Act into law, August 14, 1935. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the Supreme Court’s right-wing justices tried to block Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, he took the court head-on — and won. There’s a lesson there today: directly attacking the court’s power is the only way to rein it in.

As six unelected extremists orchestrate a judicial coup to repeal the twentieth century, you might be wondering: Why won’t Democrats simply push to expand the court like it’s been expanded before?

Why is President Joe Biden opposing court expansion and why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to allow a vote on the idea?

Why is the Democratic Party defending a GOP-packed, corporate star chamber that polls show most Americans no longer trust?

One answer is political malpractice. Another answer: complicity. Party leaders may be sending out fundraising emails slamming the John Roberts Court, but they have eschewed court expansion, halted the once-common practice of legislatively overriding justices, and declined to quickly fill lower-court vacancies before a midterm election that could eliminate their Senate majority.

But incompetence and corruption are not the whole story. Democrats have almost certainly also internalized the tale told about the party’s greatest president — the one alleging that Franklin Roosevelt epically failed by challenging the Supreme Court’s power in the late 1930s. In the popular telling, FDR got greedy, tried to pack the court with his ideological allies, but a court-loving public saw it as a crass power grab and unacceptable violation of norms, dooming the initiative and preserving equilibrium. Cue inspiring West Wing music as the republic was saved.

This cartoon has become the key cautionary tale designed to deter any challenge to a court that has been one of the establishment’s last lines of defense. But here’s the inconvenient fact: the story is bullshit — or at least significantly more complicated than the fable.

In truth, Roosevelt did not succeed in packing the court — but his court expansion initiative did succeed in taming the court, which is exactly what Democrats must do right now.

“A Choice Between Substantive Policy and Structural Integrity”

As recounted in Supreme PowerRoosevelt in 1932 ignited a firestorm when he dared to utter a taboo truth during a Baltimore speech at the end of that year’s presidential campaign. He declared that Americans were being crushed by government policies spearheaded by “the Republican Party [which] was in complete control of all branches of the federal government — the Executive, the Senate, the House of Representatives and, I might add for good measure, the Supreme Court as well.”

“Roosevelt Says GOP Has Had Supreme Court Control Since 1929,” blared the front page of the Washington Post, in an article scandalizing the idea that the court had become a political weapon.

In the ensuing years, the court’s conservative block tried to block and dismantle the New Deal program Roosevelt was elected to pursue. In 1935 and 1936, the court’s five conservative justices went on a rampage.

Smithsonian Magazine wrote that the Supreme Court in that time “struck down more significant acts of Congress — including the two foundation stones, the [National Recovery Act] and the [Agricultural Adjustment Act], of Roosevelt’s program — than at any other time in the nation’s history, before or since.” The magazine noted that one decision “destroyed FDR’s plan for industrial recovery” and another “annihilated his farm program.”

Soon after he was reelected in 1936, Roosevelt decided that a direct confrontation with the court was the only way to realize his agenda. He didn’t pretend that the court was some apolitical bastion of dispassionate integrity — he saw it for what it was: a political weapon literally run by a former Republican nominee for president.

In 1937, Roosevelt unveiled his plan to expand the court by allowing presidents to add new justices when any current justice declined to retire after age seventy. He warned that without expansion, the Supreme Court was “coming more and more to constitute a scattered, loosely organized and slowly operating third house of the national legislature.”

In history books and modern punditry, this story then simply ends with the plan dying in Congress — allegedly because Americans pulverized by the Great Depression nonetheless loved the court that was kicking them in the face.

However, a study of public opinion and the court’s moves tell a much different tale of a president and his party losing a closely fought battle but winning a larger war.

The analysis from Ohio State University political scientist Gregory Caldeira shows that Gallup polls found the public was hardly enamored with the court — on the contrary, voters were closely divided on the expansion idea when Roosevelt first proposed his legislation, even as the initiative faced largely negative press coverage from the New York Times, the dominant newspaper of the time.

More important: public support for Roosevelt’s expansion initiative only truly cratered when the court’s conservative majority suddenly halted its attempts to block the New Deal. In particular, the court’s surprising decisions to uphold a state minimum wage and then the pro-union Wagner Act deflated public support for court expansion, as did the subsequent retirement of one of the court’s most conservative justices. The court soon after declined to block social security.

“Evidence accumulated over the years goes against that notion of the (close) relationship between the public and the court,” wrote Caldeira. “I prefer, instead, a much more straightforward account: The Supreme Court outmaneuvered the president. Through a series of shrewd moves, the court put President Roosevelt in the position of arguing for a radical reform on the slimmest of justifications.”

But here’s the key point: he notes that the court’s “shrewd moves” that “outmaneuvered” FDR were in practice “an important jurisprudential retreat” on policy.

“President Roosevelt in essence offered the Supreme Court a choice between substantive policy and structural integrity,” he concludes. “The court wisely chose to give up on the substantive issues and preserve its structural integrity.”

Buried on the Social Security Administration’s website is an accurate summary of what really happened: “The debate on this [expansion] proposal was heated, widespread and over in six months. The president would be decisively rebuffed, his reputation in history tarnished for all time. But the court, it seemed, got the message and suddenly shifted its course . . . the court would sustain a series of New Deal legislation, producing a ‘constitutional revolution in the age of Roosevelt.’”

As Roosevelt himself put it after the fight was over: “We obtained 98 percent of all the objectives intended by the court plan.”

He was also overwhelmingly reelected to a historic third term a few years after the battle.

There Is No Other Viable Choice

For Democratic politicians, voters, media outlets, and advocacy groups, the moral of the story is not that reprising FDR’s court battle would repeat his failure. It is the opposite: doing what FDR did is probably the only chance to repeat his success in beating back an out-of-control court.

The good news is that at least a few party lawmakers are finally realizing that this isn’t a West Wing episode requiring a Jed Bartlet monologue — this is a high-stakes power struggle requiring some FDR-style tactics. Indeed, there is now Democratic legislation in Congress to add four justices to the panel. There is also legislation to impose term limits on Supreme Court justices — which is a wildly popular idea, according to survey data.

Even better: the justices are starting to worry about such pressure. In the past year, two of them delivered public speeches trying to defend the court’s legitimacy — a signal that they are concerned that public confidence in the court has hit historic lows. In fact, the entire Republican machine that packed the court full of right-wing extremists is now panicking about court expansion — which is a sign that it’s precisely what needs to happen.

That said, there is no guarantee that the six archconservatives now spearheading today’s judicial coup would react the same way as their predecessors during the New Deal. There may be nothing that prompts their retreat.

But in that case, public support for expansion could rise if Democrats cite the court’s extremism as yet more proof that expansion is necessary. This would require them to develop some intestinal fortitude and understand that public opinion is not static — it can be moved with enough rhetorical and legislative discipline.

Of course, some Democratic voters first and foremost love norms — and they are anesthetized by a corporate media that is forever pretending the court is dispassionate and its chief justice is a venerable statesman. So an FDR-esque crusade for court expansion might offend their sense of etiquette.

But ask yourself: What is the alternative here?

Emboldened by Democratic inaction after the antiabortion decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the six right-wing justices now seem well on their way to resurrecting the Lochner era — the inhumane judicial epoch that defined the period before Roosevelt’s battle with the court.

Roberts and his cronies clearly presume today’s Democrats will just continue defending the judicial institution — even as the court destroys every other institution in America, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Securities and Exchange Commission to democracy itself. In short, they expect today’s Democrats to never do what Roosevelt did — which would doom the country to a dystopian future.


You can subscribe to David Sirota’s investigative journalism project, the Lever, here.

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin. He edits the Lever and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Jacobin, July 9, 2022, https://jacobin.com/

The Abortion Rights Movement Must Now Turn to Grassroots Organizing and Direct Action / by Anne Rumberger

Thousands gathered at Washington Square Park and took to the streets to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022, in New York City. (Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court’s abortion rights rollback is a major victory for the Right and a crushing blow for the rest of us. But millions of people are pissed off and ready to fight for reproductive freedom — and they aren’t looking to the Democrats to save them.

We all knew that Roe v. Wade would fall, but the pain and rage when the decision was officially announced on June 24 still felt like an overwhelming body blow. In a six-three ruling along ideological lines, the conservative justices decided that the constitutional right to privacy, which Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are contingent upon, does not include abortion and was “egregiously wrong from the start.”

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said:

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.

Now that abortion policy is in the hands of the states, abortion providers and patients will have to deal with a chaotic legal limbo for months in some places as court challenges and legal maneuvering continues. Abortion is illegal, or soon will be, in up to sixteen states following the gutting of Roe and at risk of being severely limited or prohibited in twenty-six states and three territories in total.

The religious right has been laying the groundwork for this moment for decades. Conservative politicians, strategists, and legal advocacy groups like Alliance Defending Freedom have built a well-organized and well-funded movement to advance conservative family values political priorities, including limiting access to abortion and attacking LGBTQ rights. The right-wing Christian movement criminalizing people seeking and providing abortion care is also banning gender-affirming care and passing “Don’t Say Gay” bills. The fight for reproductive freedom must be connected to the fights for gay and trans liberation.

In their dissent, the three liberal justices warned that, in addition to dismantling federal abortion rights, the top US court was also threatening the future of things like the right to contraception, same-sex relations, and marriage equality. “No one should be confident that this majority is done with its work,” the liberals wrote.

It’s an important moment to note the ties between the antiabortion movement and white supremacist and Christian nationalist groups. Members of the Proud Boys, as well as other antiabortion extremists, have been protesting outside of Planned Parenthood clinics, especially in the Pacific Northwest, since around 2017, and have participated in March for Life demonstrations around the country and showed up to counterprotest pro-abortion Bans Off Our Bodies rallies after the draft opinion was leaked in May. After the announcement of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision on June 24, Proud Boys and other far-right activists on Telegram discussed “how to use Dobbs to ‘make life suck’ for their left-leaning neighbors — including by ‘stalking pregnant women to make sure they follow through’ with their pregnancies, brandishing guns or burning crosses.”

These far-right white supremacists are not just targeting abortion supporters in conservative states. Last month in New York City, a white nationalist Groyper stood in front of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral and shouted at pro-abortion activists, “You have no choice. Not your choice, not your body, your body is mine,” captured in a video that went viral.

Convicted abortion-clinic bomber John Brockhoeft, associated with the violent antiabortion group Army of God, livestreamed himself on January 6 outside of the US Capitol Building; he was one of many antiabortion activists who took part in Donald Trump’s rally or the following insurrection. Erin Matson, executive director of Reproaction, which tracks anti-abortion activists, commented in Vice, “Anti-abortion agitators have been calling and supporting the president’s call to storm Washington for some time. . . . We’ll see more and more overlap between the anti-abortion movement and the white supremacists who tried to overthrow the United States of America.”

A rally of around 20,000 people gathered to oppose the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion ruling on Friday, June 24. (Anne Rumberger)

Randall Terry, founder of the militant antiabortion group Operation Rescue, celebrated the Dobbs ruling outside of the Supreme Court on June 25. The ruling “was a victory, but it’s like D-Day,” Terry said. “Our goal is to get to Berlin. Our mission is to make it illegal to kill a human being from conception until birth in all fifty states.” The Religious right has made it clear that its next move is a federal abortion ban and fetal personhood bills that give more rights to embryos than to pregnant people.

Abortion Is Part of the Fight for Single-Payer Health Care

For political and tactical reasons, the movement for abortion access must become more closely aligned with the fight for universal health care and other reproductive justice priorities like universal childcare, federal payments to parents, guaranteed paid parental leave, and a higher minimum wage. Without more support for working families, our reproductive options will always be circumscribed, and our movement for full bodily autonomy won’t be as broad as it needs to be to win against an entrenched and politically powerful conservative right.

Sixty-one percent of Americans support the legal right to abortion in all or most cases, and 63 percent of Americans say the government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage for all, a demand that’s been enormously popular especially since Bernie Sanders made it a core plank in his 2016 presidential campaign. Passing legislation for single-payer health care, including abortion care, would be the most effective and equitable way to ensure that everyone has access to the full range of reproductive health care options; it would eliminate the financial barriers that currently limit federal funding for abortion and could bypass state abortion bans if the federal government opened abortion clinics on federal lands in red states, as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for at a June 24 New York City rally.

Abortion supporters turned out in huge numbers to voice their dissent following the Dobbs decision. An estimated 20,000 people rallied and marched in New York City, and thousands showed up in cities across the country to express their disapproval with the Supreme Court’s undemocratic decision. The goal for abortion activists is to turn the huge swell of anger into a long-term mobilization for abortion access and a mass feminist movement able to go on the offensive and influence national political priorities.

With this latest blow to bodily autonomy and sexual freedom, younger people most affected by abortion restrictions are becoming increasingly frustrated by Democratic leaders’ unwillingness to codify abortion rights and their cynical moves to exploit the overturning of Roe for fundraising appeals and political gain in the upcoming midterm elections. What’s needed now are not appeals to vote “harder” for an ineffective Democratic Party but more grassroots organizing to support those most in need of care and build our capacity for direct action.

Doctors, providers, and activists will be vulnerable targets in this post-Roe landscape, and the most marginalized people seeking abortion care will continue to be disproportionately criminalized and in need of support. Doctors in Texas have already defied the state’s abortion restrictions and openly challenged the unjust ban by providing abortion care illegally.

Not everyone will be able to take on the legal and financial risks of breaking state laws, but pro-abortion activists have decades of civil disobedience inspiration to draw on that should constitute one of many tactics deployed in the next stage of this struggle. It’s important to remember that many more people will be unwilling participants in civil disobedience as they are forced to illegally (but safely) manage their abortions at home. Feminist activists in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere in Latin America have led the way in developing networks of support and activism around abortion that we can learn from; this melding of direct service provision, mutual aid, and political activism can inspire our sometimes narrowly focused movements.

The fight is just beginning, and if the enraged crowds after the court’s decision are any indication of what’s to come, it’s a fight that we can win.


Anne Rumberger is an activist with NYC for Abortion Rights and NYC Democratic Socialists of America.

Jacobin, June 28, 2022, https://jacobin.com/

Communist Party condemns Roe reversal: ‘All out to defend abortion rights’ / by Special to the People’s World

Members of the Communist Party USA and Young Communist League protest in New York City on Friday, June 24, 2022, immediately following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. | Courtesy of CPUSA

The following statement was released by the Communist Party USA on June 24, 2022.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a horrific setback for women their partners, their families, and society overall. As expected, the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, making abortion rights susceptible to the whims of extreme-right state legislators.

A woman may not get an abortion in Texas, but a resident of New York can. Just as where you live determines whether you can vote with ease, breathe fresh air, access Medicaid, or have your children attend a well-funded school, the same is now true regarding abortion rights.

Human rights in this country have never been universal, and the Dobbs decision highlights this fact even further.

The Supreme Court decision surely ranks high among the worst, anti-human decisions in its history, such as the Dred Scott decision of 1857 or Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896. The first decision, made by a Supreme Court dominated by slaveholders, eliminated all restrictions on slavery in the Republic. Adding insult to injury, the Court stated that the Constitution’s authors never intended any Black person to have citizenship rights. Plessy held that racial segregation was constitutional, enshrined in the “separate but equal” doctrine. We all know how the “equal” part went.

Like the 19th-century justices, today’s right-wing Supreme Court has determined that certain people, in this case women and trans men, are even less equal than they were before the Court ruled on June 24.

What will be the impact of the ruling? The Southern Poverty Law Center writes that it will:

“have serious, long-term consequences for women and others. This terrible ruling also endangers other fundamental rights, putting many other communities at risk. The constitutional rights in jeopardy include the right to contraception and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. . . . The decision is particularly harmful for those people living in poverty because they lack the resources to travel to a state where abortion is legal or pay for necessary medical procedures.”

Members of the Communist Party USA and Young Communist League protest in New York City on Friday, June 24, 2022, immediately following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. | Courtesy of CPUSA

We must fight back to prevent this from becoming reality.

Today, we mourn this horrific setback. Tomorrow and beyond, we organize. Everywhere—in our communities, unions, schools, places of worship, and workplaces. We must help build a backlash against the right, one in the same spirit as the women who rebelled after Trump’s election and helped take the House of Representatives away from the GOP in 2018; the millions who marched for Black Lives after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others; and the teachers, auto workers, and nurses who went on strike these past four years.

As big as these movements were, the current situation demands a much larger movement, one that’s more inclusive, broader, more militant. Civil disobedience is in order. By inclusive we mean the involvement of a wide range of society, genders, classes, and ethnic backgrounds.

We also mean inclusiveness in terms of tactics. Some may only be willing to make phone calls to their elected officials. Some may want to work in the electoral arena to vote out anti-abortion politicians. Others may demonstrate and engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest. All tactics are on the table. We must engage with people who have never carried a picket sign or called their members of Congress.

This is the kind of unity needed to turn the Court’s decision into a temporary setback. The Communist Party USA is committed to helping build unity to restore women’s right to an abortion.


Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.

Supreme Court kills abortion rights, sets target on marriage equality, contraception, more / by John Wojcik and C.J. Atkins

A tear rolls down an abortion rights activist’s cheek as they speak outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.

As expected, the Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion across the nation nearly 50 years ago. The decision was already revealed in an unprecedented leak reported by Politico in early May, but now the nation has the final version of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated among the other justices in February.

The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that a constitutionally-guaranteed right has ever been removed by the Court. But the extremists on the Court do not appear content with just killing abortion rights. Justice Clarence Thomas, a signatory to the decision, called for the Supreme Court to overturn other past rulings protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex, and the use of contraceptives.

The destruction of Roe is having immediate impact. In the state of West Virginia Friday morning, the last clinic in the state providing abortion services closed its doors. The sole clinic in Mississippi continued to provide services but was expected to stop at any time as right-wing protesters gathered outside. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood issued an order to stop abortion services at both of its clinics. Similar scenes are playing out across the country.

The scene outside the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The decision strikes down both Roe v. Wade, the Court’s 1973 ruling that enshrined the constitutional right to an abortion, and a decision in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that essentially upheld that right.

Alito wrote: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed divisions in the country.”

Joining him in tossing Roe were Thomas and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices were appointed by former President Donald Trump. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—the last remaining Democratic appointees on the Court—dissented.

“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” they wrote, warning that right-wing abortion opponents would now try to impose a nationwide ban “from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest.”

Though he did not sign their dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal wing.

Protected by Roe no more

At least half the states in the country are expected to quickly make abortion completely illegal, with poor and working-class women and women of color in Republican-governed states having their rights stripped away first.

Abortion rights advocates say this will result in desperate people traveling to get abortions in states where the procedure remains legal, such as Illinois or New York. Some 13 states have “trigger laws” on the books which outlawed abortion the minute Roe was officially overturned.

In those places, the ruling marks a return to the time before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was a crime everywhere.

As late as the early 1970s, for example, police departments and governments around the U.S. were conducting crackdowns on what they called the illegal “abortion industry.” Almost totally forgotten these days are the vicious attacks against women in government-led terroristic campaigns.

The story of one such campaign, in Chicago, gained wide circulation again following the Politico leak. In the early ’70s, police came crashing down on “Call Jane,” a feminist collective of young women who, since 1965, had provided safe but then illegal abortions to roughly 3,000 Chicagoans per year. The collective, led by the famed civil rights and human rights activist Heather Booth, was raided after two Catholic women told police their sister-in-law planned to have an abortion provided by the group.

A homicide detective assigned to the case traced “Jane” to the South Shore neighborhood. There, police raided an apartment, arrested nearly 50 people for questioning, and tore three women who were actively undergoing abortion treatment away from their procedure and hauled them off to the hospital.

Members of the Jane Collective, arrested by Chicago Police. | Chicago Police Department

Seven women were charged with 11 counts of performing an abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. They would soon be known in Chicago’s newspapers as the “Abortion Seven.” Members of Call Jane protected the women they served and prevented many of them from being arrested by eating the index cards that bore the details of the patients’ information.

There were similar cases across the country where working-class women went to incredible and dangerous lengths to access abortion or to protect those who needed them.

A woman working for the Parks Department in Brooklyn found a woman who performed her own abortion bleeding and dying in a ravine in Prospect Park. She was able to get the woman to the emergency room at a nearby hospital where her life was saved.

In 1973, the Abortion Seven had to be released by prosecutors when the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade. With the decision, the Court affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion was a constitutional right. It said that states could not ban abortion before 24 weeks into the pregnancy.

The nightmare of state harassment suffered by women in Chicago in the early 1970s may pale in comparison, however, to the level of surveillance and repression that will be deployed against women, non-binary people, and trans men seeking reproductive services in those parts of America where abortion is again illegal.

The data produced by cell phones, internet browsers, search engines, and social media could be used to prosecute those who seek abortions, and the heaviest crackdowns would undoubtedly descend on poor women and women of color.

Many people in the states where abortion is now illegal are unlikely to make, nor can they afford, the long, expensive, and health-endangering journeys that will be required. The poor, the young, and people of color will more likely be forced to turn to illegal methods, creating another racist feature in the already racist criminal justice system.

Now, stunned women’s rights activists fear prosecutions like that of the “Call Jane” collective will become business as usual.

Women as criminals

A national organization for defense attorneys has published a report that lays out a future in which the U.S. could undertake “rampant criminalization” and “mass incarceration on an unprecedented scale” in the name of “defense of the unborn.”

“States are laying the groundwork now, and have been laying the groundwork for criminal penalties that are completely different,” than the pre-Roe era, says Lindsay A. Lewis, a New York criminal defense attorney who co-authored a report on abortion for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL).

Abortion rights advocates marched in the 1970s. | AbortionFilms.org

“They are so much more advanced and so much harsher than what existed before Roe was enacted.” State legislatures have spent recent decades “modifying their criminal codes” in ways that “completely change the calculus when it comes to what it would mean to go back to pre-Roe times,” according to Lewis.

Lawyers warn that the states where the procedure is illegal are laying the groundwork to go after even those women who travel to other states where it is legal in order to get abortions denied in their home states.

Criminal charges could come from specific abortion laws, but also from criminal codes that penalize “attempted crimes, conspiracies, and accomplices to crime, all relics of laws developed during the U.S.’ so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Those laws could subject a wide range of individuals to criminal penalties if Roe is overturned”, the NACDL report says.

They would include prosecuting people from states where the procedure is illegal who attempt to seek abortions in states where it remains legal.

For example, Louisiana law defines an “accomplice” to a crime as “anyone involved in its commission, even tangentially, whether present or absent if they aid, abet, or even counsel someone.” Lawyers say this could be used against a wide range of spouses, partners, friends, loved ones, or counselors, such as clergy or abortion fund networks, which help direct people or help transport them to clinics in places where abortion is still legal.

Turning dissent into action

The Court’s decision opens the way for a future Republican Congress and president to ban abortion entirely across the whole country. In the immediate weeks and months ahead, the decision is expected to set off an avalanche of legal challenges as the fight over abortion moves to state capitals and as Roe becomes a central issue in the November midterm elections.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation after the ruling was made official, calling Friday “a sad day for the Court and the country.” With Roe gone, he said, “the health and life of women across this nation are now at risk.”

The reaction from abortion rights, women’s equality, and other movement leaders was more stinging.

“The hands of time have once again been turned back,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty. “In the midst of a Black maternal mortality crisis, restricting access to abortion will disproportionately endanger the lives of Black Americans,” Beatty declared. “Let me be very clear: Government-mandated pregnancy is not pro-life, it is pro-policing of women’s bodies.”

In a statement sent to People’s World, Working Families Party spokesperson Nelini Stamp said: “Make no mistake, white Christian nationalists have been working towards this moment for 50 years. They have exploited the most anti-democratic features of our political system, from the courts to the Electoral College to the United States Senate. They have engaged in outrageous power grabs, bulldozed basic norms, and can’t be bothered to justify their hypocrisy. They know their views are unpopular, so they rig our democracy to enshrine minority rule, trampling our rights.”

Members of the Communist Party USA march for reproductive rights. | via CPUSA

Opinion surveys show a majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe and handing the question of whether to permit abortion entirely to the states. Polls conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others also have consistently shown that only about 1 in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases. A majority are in favor of abortion being legal in all or most circumstances.

Laura Dewey, a leader of the Communist Party USA’s Michigan district, pointed to the 2022 elections as a frontline in the battle to stop the anti-abortion assault. She said, “We must help build the biggest backlash against the far right, one far larger than the right-wing backlash against Obama’s election, one comparable to the women’s uprising after Trump’s election. We need to be in the streets in the coming months and at the polling booths in November.”

She said that “a strike by women and trans men should be considered.”

Dewey called the decision “fascistic” in nature and connected it to other aspects of extremist Republican policy. “Along with the police violence against and the mass incarceration of Black and brown people and the wave of anti-voting laws, the reversal of Roe v. Wade signals the right’s determination to control and suppress human beings. It may very well be a sign of fascism to come unless we the people halt this frightening trend.”


John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. C.J. Atkins es el editor gerente de People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

People’s World, June 26, 2022, https://www.peoplesworld.org/

Opinion: QAnon conspiracist Christiane Northrup jumps into GOP primaries / Andy O’Brien

Photo: Second District candidate Liz Caruso and Dr. Christiane Northup and the Maine Republican convention. 

QAnon influencer and best selling author Christiane Northrup of Yarmouth has turned her sights to the federal and local primary and general elections this year in effort to unleash an “army of angels” to vote for political candidates who sign on to an agenda rooted in apocalyptic conspiracy theories. 

In 2021, Northrup co-founded the group Maine Stands Up, an organization focused on eliminating vaccine mandates and public health measures. For the past year, she and her group have been carrying on a campaign to organize a reactionary movement uniting crunchy back-to-the-landers and New Age wellness types with Christian dominionists, far-right militias and Republican politicians. It’s a campaign that is already yielding results. 

Recently, the organization announced that former Governor Paul LePage and Republican congressional candidates Ed Thelander and Liz Caruso are among the 50 candidates who have signed on to MSU’s “The People’s Platform.”

While it’s easy to write off Northrup and her followers as a bunch of fringe kooks, the organization has sprouted numerous chapters all over the state, from Aroostook County to Kittery, to elect candidates that align with their hateful ideology. As we enter election season, we need to understand who these people are and work hard to prevent them from gaining political power.

At a church in Augusta this past February, the celebrity doctor delivered an unhinged sermon drawing on Christian Nationalist ideology and far-right conspiracies. She repeated misinformation about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supposed dangers of vaccines. Using pseudo populist rhetoric, she spun dark tales about the “Great Reset” conspiracy — a paranoid and contradictory belief that a secret cabal of left-wing Marxists and billionaires with the World Economic Forum created the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a plot to install an authoritarian one-world government run by powerful capitalists and socialists. Northrup blames the current housing crisis on the shadowy left-wing capitalist oligarchy and claims that a representative from the World Economic Forum “came down from Davos” to ask a friend in Owls Head if the organization could rent all of her short term rentals for “illegal immigrants.”

“Don’t do it,” Northrup instructs the audience. “Don’t sell your house to one of these people!”

She invokes a version of the right-wing  “UN Agenda 21 conspiracy” that the World Economic Forum’s “15-minute communities” plan — to reorganize urban space around work, home, community and amenities — is actually a nefarious plot to pack people into “little stacking boxes” and brand them with QR codes to track their every move. Someone from the audience shouts out that a recent state law to reform zoning laws to allow for more residential housing is a part of the Davos conspiracy.

Northrup rails against phantom “deep state infiltrators” in our midst and asks Republican House candidate Guy Lebida of Bowdoin, who is in the pews, to “get all of the photos of the World Economic Forum people in Maine” and put them in his conservative newspaper. On the Maine Stand Up website, the organization targets members of the “Portland Global Shapers Hub” — an initiative of the World Economic Forum “to engage young people in solving communal problems” — as the shock troops trained to carry out the “Great Reset” and “end our civil liberties and medical freedoms.”

Northrup goes on to compare public health protections to slavery, quoting a Black friend who says Black Lives Matter “is a crime against humanity.” After she calls on the churchgoers to use their “spiritual authority and through Jesus Christ” to “take down the demonic” in Augusta, she pauses to gleefully tell an anecdote that the governor’s security team won’t let her go into the atrium of the Blaine House because there are too many windows and they are concerned about her safety. This draws boisterous laughter from the audience.

In contrast to demonic globalists, Northrup says, the conservative movement is actually a spiritual path rooted in love. That’s why, she tells the flock, we must “fix bayonets” like Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, unleash the army of angels and vote out the “demons.” She doesn’t just disagree with her liberal and left political opponents, she calls them “cockroaches” and a “regressive species,” to exuberant applause. Then building to a crescendo, Northrup launches into an apocalyptic sermon.

“I want a tidal wave… billions of them starting with the coast of Maine…. taking down the demonic starting with Augusta and all of the woke people and all of the Klaus Schwabbies on the coast of Maine,” she said, referring to the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, “take them out and send them back to hell where they came from and bar them from ever returning as the tidal wave goes out from Maine, as Maine goes, so goes the planet and we go all the way across the planet to California.”

Yoga teachers, wellness gurus and Christian nationalists

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Northrup — a former obstetrician-gynecologist, a women’s health guru and frequent Oprah guest — has drifted further and further to the right, using increasingly violent and dehumanizing rhetoric to target her opponents. She delivers her rambling daily communiques to thousands of followers on social media in a calm and soothing manner, but her sweet, touchy-feely demeanor belies a message that is full of hatred, rage and fear.

Over the past year, Northrup has traveled all over the state speaking at a variety of venues, from local Republican committee meetings and evangelical churches to more crunchy, bohemian events including a booze cruise, the “Soul-Stice Showcase” and a “Healing Arts Fair.” She has appeared alongside anti-Semitic QAnon influencers, anti-LGBTQ activists, a far-right sovereign citizen sheriff, anti-immigrant activists, Christian nationalists and Republican anti-vaccine legislators like Reps. Heidi Sampson of Alfred, Tracy Quint (Hodgton), Shelley Rudnicki (Fairfield) and Laurel Libby (Auburn).

At a water fast retreat, Northrup sent “blessings” to her fellow “patriots” who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. She is scheduled to speak alongside QAnon influencer and National Security Adviser to former President Donald Trump Michael Flynn at the “ReAwaken America” megachurch tour, which aims to spread Christian nationalism and fake election fraud conspiracies.

Some of her followers — which include yoga teachers, homeschoolers, alternative health entrepreneurs, wellness obsessed fitness buffs and homesteaders — were once liberal leaning, but have since become radicalized by the pandemic and vaccine mandates. Now, many have fully bought into Q-adjacent conspiracies that cast progressives, racial justice activists, medical professionals, scientists, the media and Democratic politicians as willing participants in a global conspiracy to control, subjugate and even wipe out God-fearing white Christians.

Northrup, like many of her right-wing comrades, has repeatedly alluded to a final showdown between the “light workers” and the “demons.” In a recent video with cancer-denial activist Jeff Witzeman overdubbed with a soft slide guitar, she rhetorically asks, “Do I get to pick the firing squad to kill these demons?”

She continues: “If you were a New Age person and you read books like ‘You Cannot Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought,’ you would be afraid that that thought is going to somehow lead you to ‘oh, oh, oh – cancel, cancel, cancel, I had a bad thought, I wanted to harm that person.’ No. I like those thoughts. I listen to Zev Zelenko say, ‘I am all for love and forgiveness and if anyone comes near my children, I will have no problem putting a bullet in their head.’ I want people to own that part of themselves because that is righteous anger. It is a cause of health.”

LePage and other Republican candidates back extremist agenda

Former governor and Republican candidate Paul LePage reads over the Maine Stands Up “People’s Platform” at the Maine GOP convention in April 2022.

At the Maine Republican Convention in April, Maine Stands Up member Katlin Hilton reported that she was able to convince LePage, First District Congressional candidate Thelander and Second District Congressional candidate Caruso to sign the Maine Stands Up “People’s Platform.”  LePage first asked for a slight language adjustment around the food sovereignty provision.

“The next day I went back and showed Governor LePage that we took what he said to heart and made the change,” wrote Hilton on the organization’s website. “Without me asking, he said he would now sign it! So I gave him the pen and the rest is history!”

Unfortunately, Maine Stands Up has not released the platform and would not respond to messages seeking a copy, but Hilton wrote that she and her husband developed it with a group of “republicans [sic], Christian’s [sic], alternative media sources, legislators, and house representatives.”

Maine Stands Up has also endorsed Republican anti-vaccine activist Brogan Teel of Brunswick for State Senate District 23 and Caruso in her Republican primary against former Congressman Bruce Poliquin. On its website, the organization called Caruso “a fearless advocate for medical freedom,” having worked on the failed people’s veto referendum campaign to repeal a law requiring public school students to receive their childhood vaccines. While Caruso has been considered a long shot candidate, she has received strong grassroots support for her hard right politics and there’s evidence Poliquin is getting nervous. 

In her speech at the Maine GOP convention, Caruso pledged to stand “strong against the liberal intellectual elite” and alluded to the Great Reset conspiracy as she railed against President Joe Biden’s desire to participate in the World Economic Forum with the “globalists,” which is a dog whistle to imply they are Jews. She described the Democratic president as a kind of Manchurian candidate — an enemy who is “tearing apart America from the inside,” undermining American sovereignty, “eroding national pride,” destroying the U.S. currency, “culturally deconstructing our society,” and “creating confusion as to what it is to have American values or to be an American.”

“It’s a battle of God and freedom versus evil and tyranny,” Caruso continued, “where a globalist regime and treasonous administration is usurping the government from its citizens, causing civilizational chaos, a crisis at every turn and weaponizing agencies and unelected bureaucrats from the citizens they were to serve.”

Caruso pledged to the audience that she would “fight hard to end big tech censorship and overtly biased press.” In recent interview on Newscenter’s 207 following the mass murder of Black shoppers and workers at the hands of a white supremacist gunman in Buffalo, New York, Caruso said she doesn’t “believe we have a problem with white supremacists just because [the Neo Nazi terrorist] was white” — despite the fact that his message clearly explained racism was his motive.

There is a word for a hyper-nationalist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian movement that promises to “end” a free press and presents its enemies as subhuman “cockroaches” who need to be destroyed before they destroy the nation. It’s called fascism. 

We’ll find out soon enough whether Caruso is successful next Tuesday, but in the meantime Northrup’s neofascist group is holding regular meetings across the state in Yarmouth, Kittery, Portland, Union, Unity, Brunswick, Farmington, Lincolnville, Auburn, Belfast, Kennebunk, the Caribou/Presque Isle area, Owl’s Head, Ellsworth, Saco, Greenville, Harrison, and Augusta. Everyone who is concerned about the fascist threat to our fellow humans and our democracy, needs to do their part to prevent these people from winning in November.


Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of 160 local unions representing 40,000 workers. However, his opinions are his own and don’t represent the views of his employer. He is also a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.

Maine Beacon, June 6, 2022, https://mainebeacon.com/

Abortion in Cuba vs U.S. shows which country is truly democratic / by Calla Walsh

A May Day 2022 rally in La Habana, Cuba

When I connected to wifi for the first time in five days, a notification appeared on my phone announcing that the U.S. Supreme Court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 legal decision that makes access to abortion a legal right.

Like most people when they heard the news, I felt shock waves run down my body. It was a draft opinion, but if the consensus holds, abortion will likely become illegal immediately or very quickly in 13 U.S. states.

This is despite the fact that nearly two-thirds–64%–of people in the United States oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.

We were hit by this news in Cuba, the first country in Latin America to legalize abortion, and where abortion and contraceptives are free–as with all healthcare services.

Like the United States, Cuba is currently engaged in a nationwide debate over LGBTQ+, women’s, and reproductive rights. But unlike in the U.S., where these decisions are made by a few unelected Supreme Court theocrats, Cuba’s process is grassroots and democratic.

The U.S. empire would like us to believe that Cuba is an authoritarian dictatorship, because it does not bow down to the laws of neoliberal “democracy.” Yet comparing the debates over reproductive rights in the two countries can help demystify which country is truly democratic.

Socialism enshrines reproductive rights in Cuba

Abortion was first legalized in Cuba in 1936 in cases of rape, risk to the birthgiver’s life, or the possibility of passing on a serious disease to the fetus.

Before the 1959 revolution, Cubans lived through a period of U.S. neocolonialism, and private medical clinics thrived by offering U.S. “health tourists” services like abortion that were not available in the United States.

During this time, Cuba had the second-highest rural infant and maternal death rates in Latin America. Most Cubans had no access to healthcare, especially outside of the capital, La Habana. There was only one rural hospital in the country.

Abortion was effectively only legal for the Cubans who could afford it–a reality we still face in the U.S.. Only with socialism, and the expansion of free healthcare to all, came a full actualization of abortion rights in Cuba.

After the triumph of the revolution in 1959, health outcomes improved immediately. Cuba now has the most doctors per capita in the world. It even has a higher life expectancy and lower maternal mortality rate than the U.S..

Full access to abortion was institutionalized in 1965 on four basic grounds:

it is the woman who decides, it needs to take place at a hospital, it needs to be carried out by expert staff, and it needs to be totally free.

The only criminalization of abortion in Cuba is “when it is done for profit, outside of health institutions, by non-medical staff, or against a woman’s will.”

In the struggle to secure Cuba’s strong abortion laws, as well as other protections like paid maternal leave, one should not underestimate the role played by revolutionary mass organizations like the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC), whose membership includes more than 85% of all eligible Cuban women over 14 years of age.

Along with the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and the Organs of Popular Power (OPP), mass organizations like the FMC and Cuba Workers Federation (CTC) make up the three main pillars of Cuba’s political system.

In Cuba, I met Dr. Samira Addrey. Born in Ghana, raised in the United States, and recently graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba, Addrey is intimately familiar with the radical differences in the Cuban health system.

She now coordinates a scholarship program for students from the U.S. to study at ELAM for free, and subsequently work in underserved communities upon graduation. She explained how reproductive care currently works in Cuba.

“​​Every woman of reproductive age has the right to make the decision that is best for her reproductive health,” Addrey told me. “As soon as a woman reaches the menstrual phase of her life, the family doctor and nurse in her neighborhood classify her within the reproductive age, typically 15 to 49 years approximately.”

“Every factor that could contribute to or take away from good reproductive health for a woman is assessed from the beginning to the end,” she stressed.

Addrey noted that a woman “is entitled to choose contraceptive methods that are appropriate for her health background and encouraged to involve her sexual partner in each consult visit to make sure they understand what good sexual and reproductive health means for a both partners.”

“A woman is afforded a safe abortion for free, done by a medical doctor at any local policlinic or hospital,” she added. “Reproductive health in Cuba is approached as a multifaceted part of every woman’s life.”

| Socialism enshrines reproductive rights in Cuba | MR Online

Thanks to the widespread availability of abortion, and public trust in the health system, the issue is much less stigmatized in Cuba than it is in the U.S., despite the fact that the Caribbean nation is majority Catholic.

Addrey recalled that “numerous times, my OBGYN professors stressed that they prioritized the life of the woman before all else, especially in the case of pregnancies that threatened the life of a mother. For them, it was a no brainer to save a woman’s life if it meant losing a fetus because the woman still had a full life to live even if she may never have a child through her own womb.”

Dailyn Briñas, a Cuban-American who traveled to Cuba with me on the 15th International May Day Brigade, said “very little social consequences” exist in Cuba for people who choose to get abortions, whereas “in the West, women are at times looked down upon or made to feel less if they do.”

The destigmatization of abortion in Cuba is rooted in the revolution’s steadfast commitment to reproductive rights.

People’s democracy and the Cuban families code

Cuba’s constitution, which was revised through a democratic process in 2019, not only guarantees the right to free medical care, but it also enforces gender equality in all aspects of society, including sexual and reproductive rights:

Women and men have equal rights and responsibilities in the economic, political, cultural, occupational, social, and familial domains, as well as in any other domain. The State guarantees that both will be offered the same opportunities and possibilities. The State encourages the holistic development of women and their full social participation. It ensures the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights, protects them from gender-based violence in all of its forms and in all spaces, and creates the institutional and legal mechanisms to do so.

The U.S. constitution does not mention women at all.

But what might surprise North Americans the most about Cuba’s constitution is the fact that Cubans get to directly participate in the rewriting of the document.

Cuba is currently updating its 1975 Family Code, which codified gender equality into law, into a new Families Code. This process will update the island’s existing regulations on marriage, divorce, adoption, and other family-related regulations, including by legalizing same-sex marriage, expanding the rights of children, allowing assisted pregnancies, fighting gender-based violence, and protecting the elderly.

Minister of Justice Oscar Silvera Martínez described the document as “a transcendental text, which reinforces rights, fulfills and expands rights, and this is inherent to our revolutionary and socialist essence as a society.”

Elaborating on the parts of the bill that pertain to reproductive rights, Dr. Samira Addrey explained, “In Cuba, surrogate mothers who want to help another woman be a mother is also an option. This is consecrated by the new Families Code, and it is important to note that it is entirely prohibited for anyone to charge people for surrogacy.”

In December 2021, the National Assembly of Cuba approved a draft of the Families Code bill to be sent out for popular consultation.

From February to April 2022, more than 6 million Cubans, in more than 79,000 community meetings, participated in debate and discussion of the bill, making around 434,860 proposals, 61.96% of which were favorable.

Even the 1.3 million Cubans living abroad were invited to participate through an online form.

On May 15, Cuba’s National Electoral Council delivered its summary of the national popular consultation to the National Assembly of People’s Power. The drafting commission will now take the 434,860 proposals made by regular Cubans into consideration, delivering a new version of the draft to the National Assembly by June 17.

The version approved by the assembly will then be submitted to a popular referendum for approval by the Cuban people.

This consultative process has long played a key role in Cuban democracy. As political economist Helen Yaffe described in her book “We Are Cuba!“, the “introduction of the new Labour Code in June 2014 followed five months of debate involving 2.8 million workers in nearly 70,000 workplace assemblies and in the CTC, the Ministry of Labour, and the National Assembly. The process led to over 100 amendments to the draft Code.”

Cubans have many ways to engage in democracy, from participating in grassroots consultation, to joining mass organizations, to running for municipal assemblies, provincial assemblies, or the National Assembly as delegates themselves.

Cubans reading printed biographies of candidates in front of a polling station.

“It would be a mistake to think that because the opportunities for participation are on people’s doorsteps, that the issues they become involved in are only of local significance,” emphasized Ph.D. researcher Lauren Collins.

What happens at the hyper-local level in translates directly to the national level, showing just how advanced Cuban democracy is.

Roe v. Wade and the illusion of democracy

Danaka Katovich, an organizer with the peace group CODEPINK, visited Cuba as part of the International People’s Assembly youth delegation. She later wrote,

I was eating dinner with our Cuban hosts when we got word that Roe could soon be overturned. The table went silent. The Americans were scared and the Cubans were afraid on our behalf.

Hearing the news about Roe v. Wade while in revolutionary Cuba put the reactionary decision in a different context.

“It made me wonder what my rights really look like, and if I really have any rights,” said B. “Goddess” Dillard Saunders, an internationalist organizer and May Day brigadista from Minnesota who has had multiple abortions in the U.S..

“If you can just take something away from me with your pen, did I ever have it to begin with?” she asked.

The precariousness of reproductive rights–and all rights–in the United States bears a sharp contrast to life in Cuba, where it would be unimaginable for the government to strip away healthcare from millions of people with a single vote, let alone a vote between nine unelected justices.

The fact that these nine unelected justices can make a major decision that is so clearly opposed by 64% of the population, and only supported by 33%, exposes how hollow U.S. “democracy” is.

Moreover, it would be unimaginable to North Americans for us to participate in community debate and national referendums on our constitution, which has barely changed since it was written by a handful of slaveowners 235 years ago.

But most North Americans are still convinced that we live in a functional democracy, while Cubans live in a totalitarian dictatorship.

Dailyn Briñas, who has lived in both countries, explained that in the U.S., “There exists no democracy, and the elite are the main executioners of laws or regulations,” whereas the “Cuban system is quite the opposite, and it is this attention toward collective action and thought that provides the foundation for their system.”

Take voting access. If the United States is the democracy and Cuba is the dictatorship, why does Cuba regularly have 90% voter turnout rates, while the U.S. has rarely passed 60% in recent presidential election years?

Why does Cuba automatically register all citizens and permanent residents to vote at age 16, while endless voter suppression exists in the U.S.? The list goes on.

The illusion of democracy in the U.S. is multifaceted. Studies show that public opinion in the U.S. has zero influence on policymaking.

The United States is the definition of an oligarchy. Laws are determined by the capitalist elite, who buy elections, influence legislation through the corporate lobby, or sit themselves in Congress, where more than half of the members are millionaires.

On average, a U.S. Senate seat costs $10.5 million, and a House seat $1.7 million.

But even if democracy couldn’t be bought in the U.S., our so-called “democratic institutions” were designed to be fundamentally undemocratic.

The Supreme Court is a prime example. Justices are appointed by the president, who can win the electoral college without a majority of votes.

Supreme Court Justices are approved by the Senate, the world’s “greatest deliberative body,” where 40 people can outvote 60, and mostly white, rural states get disproportionate representation. The Nation reported that, “by 2040, it is projected that 70 percent of the country will be represented by just 30 senators, while the other 70 senators will give voice to the 30 percent.”

Once confirmed, Supreme Court justices serve limitless terms, with power over the lives of 330 million people in their hands.

Another deceitful aspect of U.S. “democracy” is the illusion of choice between the Democratic and Republican parties, which are really two sides of the same imperialist coin.

Democrats have used the Roe v. Wade decision as a rallying cry–and email fundraising subject line–for the 2022 midterm elections, arguing that voting in November is the only way to save abortion rights.

What they fail to mention in their fundraising emails is that they could save Roe right now, by codifying abortion rights into federal law with the current Democratic control of the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House.

A Senate vote this May to try to codify Roe nationwide was blocked, as Democrat Joe Manchin joined all 50 Republican senators in opposing the bill. But Democrats in the Senate, without any Republican votes, could end the filibuster, the undemocratic rule that requires 60 votes, instead of a simple majority, to pass most pieces of legislation.

Like Obama, who promised to codify abortion rights into federal law on the first day of his presidency, then decided they were no longer a legislative priority, Biden and his Democratic Party serve as controlled opposition. They claim to fight for abortion rights while failing to pass an abortion bill every time they have had the ability to do so.

Democrats and Republicans are not fundamentally opposed to each other; they simply have different strategies for how to best maintain U.S. global capitalist hegemony.

| Roe v Wade and the illusion of democracy | MR Online

Cuba may only have one party (which I should note is not an electoral party and it is barred from involvement in the entire electoral process), but within the Communist Party of Cuba–as well as the Organs of Popular Power and mass organizations it has helped build for women, workers, and youth–there is much more room for democratic debate and direct input from the masses than any viable party in the U.S..

Cuba’s democratic structures also cannot be assessed outside of their surrounding conditions: the onslaught of yankee imperialism and global neoliberalism.

Cuban socialism has not been able to develop for a single day not under siege by the U.S. government–through the illegal economic blockade, direct and indirect terrorist interventions, and the continued illegal occupation of Guantánamo Bay.

The Cuban Revolution has survived for over 60 years, in the harshest possible conditions, as countless other revolutions were crushed by U.S. intervention, for a reason.

Only socialism can bring about democratic and reproductive freedom

When I asked Dr. Samira Addrey if she thinks socialism is necessary for the full actualization of reproductive rights for all people, she gave a wholehearted yes.

“The rights of a woman to determine the best course for her reproductive health can never be a commodity nor a question laid in the hands of men,” she said. “Socialism upholds the humanity of women by ensuring that their roles in society be fully respected and protected.”

“Health is a human right and socialism delivers a system where that unalienable right can never be trampled upon by greedy exploitative capitalist machines,” she added.

Having seen the drastic advancements women made through the Cuban Revolution, Dailyn Briñas views socialism as “a transitional point for the eventual goal of universal women’s liberation.”

She maintained, “Reproductive rights are one of the many things that would come with bringing about the collective transformation and destruction of a capitalist global structure.”

With the destruction of capitalism also comes a full realization of democracy. Socialism–the common ownership of production, distribution, and exchange under the political rule of the working class masses–is the most democratic form of society that can now be constructed.

Before the revolution, Cuba was ruled by a series of U.S.-backed dictators–and before that, direct U.S. military rule and Spanish colonialism.

Today, Cuba has a people-powered, consultative, socialist democracy that is centuries ahead of the U.S. in terms of grassroots participation and social achievements.

For many in the United States, it is easier to believe that Cuba is lying about their democratic achievements than to come to terms with the fact that our own government is choosing to deny us those same rights.

How could a country just 90 miles away provide all of its citizens with healthcare, housing, education, and reproductive freedom, free of cost, when we have been told our entire lives that we do not deserve those same achievements, and that they are physically impossible?

It is not a pretty reality to accept, that the U.S. willingly perpetuates violence upon us and the rest of the world every day, but it is better than living in the delusion of imperialist benevolence.

When we all wake up–and we will–we’ll realize how much we have to learn from Cuba.


Originally published: Multipolarista on May 23, 2022

Calla Walsh is an organizer with the Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition and board member at Massachusetts Peace Action. In 2022 she traveled to Cuba as part of the 15th International May Day Brigade of Voluntary Work and Solidarity with Cuba.

MR Online, May 25, 2022, https://mronline.org/

We Failed to Protect Abortion Rights. We Need a Labor-Based Strategy / by Lillian Cicerchia

A crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court to protest against the overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Kent Nishimura / Getty Images)

Despite majority support for abortion rights, we failed to build a majority coalition to defend reproductive freedom. We should honestly assess our failures — and then build a movement that ties together labor, feminists, and health care organizing.

There is not much new to say about the leaked Supreme Court decision that is poised to overturn the legal precedent set in Roe v. Wade (1973). That precedent stated that women have a right to privacy and therefore the right to an abortion. The shortcomings of the privacy precedent are clear. It’s only indirectly a right to have an abortion, as it’s really a right to not have the state directly involve itself in one’s medical decisions.

The US right has challenged this ruling for years in the streets and in the courts, state by state. The story of the end of Roe is the story of the most organized, militant, and successful conservative social movement of the past fifty years. In the end, the Democratic Party didn’t stop them. Neither did the reproductive rights and the social justice nonprofits that so many depend on for health care and legal support.

Am I angry with the Right? Oh, yes. Beyond the court cases, I have watched them harass, intimidate, and lie to women in front of clinics over and over again. I have never lived in a country where they did not dominate the political argument. I have watched them invade and bomb clinics, murder doctors, stalk clinic workers, and follow women around their neighborhoods and to their homes, all in the name of protecting “life.” From Texas to New York City, the antiabortion right is unscrupulous and unforgivable.

But this outcome was entirely expected. As a result, I am now angrier with the abortion rights movement — from leftists to liberal Democrats.

Now that Roe is almost dead, I’d like to be clear about why. Seventy percent of the US population supports abortion rights. The fact that we have lost these rights to a minority coalition should prompt self-criticism. It is our responsibility to put together a majority coalition that can safeguard basic reproductive rights. It is our responsibility to frame the issue in a way that challenges culture war narratives with a universalist program that advocates for those rights. We didn’t. So let’s take stock.

First, we accepted the Right’s terms of debate. 

At every turn, from Hillary Clinton’s abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” speech to the Right’s “abortion is racist” charge, we implicitly accepted that abortions are malign or allowed ourselves to be put on the defensive. We decided that it was better to downplay abortion services at women’s clinics and instead argue for the funding of Planned Parenthood because it provides routine pap smears. Well, the Right wasn’t coming after Planned Parenthood because of the pap smears, were they? It is contradictory to demand that the abortion rights movement de-emphasize abortion when abortion is the issue that animates the Right’s challenge.

By tailing the Right, we have blurred what should be a principled line between respecting women’s autonomy and taking it away. The Right says that abortion is racist because its provision is a concerted attempt by white people (feminists) to kill black babies in the womb — and we seem to agree at times by describing the history of abortion rights in the United States as a white women’s issue, always and everywhere marred by the country’s horrific episodes of forced sterilization. (This kind of rhetoric, though common in movement circles, tends not to make it into print — thus the Twitter link.)

But it is not racist to provide abortion services. Rather, it is racist to force people to have abortions because of their race (which is still not the same thing as forced sterilization). Abortion is not the only reproductive health care issue that matters — far from it — but the contradiction between the demand to de-emphasize abortion in the movement and abortion being the spearhead of the Right’s offensive holds here as well. How, exactly, do we plan to defend the right to abortion by incorporating it into a broader health care agenda if we can’t even defend the right to abortion in the first place?

Finally, the abortion rights movement has allowed the Right to present itself as not only anti-racist, but feminist as well. The “pro-life feminist” script taps into the intuition that the Democratic Party does not really care about most women, despite their “girl boss” rhetoric. The Right then turns around and says that they care about women. Although the Right doesn’t have any social policies that would support women and their dependents, they sell the lie that they might do so with vague promises of church, family, and community support. Seems like a nice tradeoff for reproductive rights, doesn’t it?

Second, the abortion rights movement has become captive to the liberal nonprofit world, with all of its terms and conditions.

This captivity is both strategic and moral. The nonprofits are “doing the work.” They are “community organizing” and “in the struggle.” They are providing vital services that people need. They surely know what’s best, especially when it comes to securing public and private funds for their operations. Only they know how to navigate the legal and electoral systems with their lawyers, lobbyists, and grant writers.

This world contains an intricate web of professional activism that you almost need a degree to understand, which puts us on amateur footing when we notice their strategy is failing. Upon receiving criticism, the nonprofits pull out their moral guns by insisting that they are the ones on the front lines protecting the most vulnerable women — and that their “privileged” critics have nothing worthwhile to say.

Third, the movement did not unambiguously get behind a federal universal health care plan. 

Here it is worth distinguishing between socialists and liberal Democrats since the former have strongly supported Medicare for All. The latter, however, have not, which can be seen in Planned Parenthood’s inconsistent state-by-state position on the matter. In some cases, they support it. In other cases, they don’t. I suspect that either position is largely dictated by their relationship to their state Democratic Party.

But we ought to ask why feminist actors have been unable to push nonprofits like Planned Parenthood to the left on health care. The only way out of the state-by-state strategic morass is to win a federal health program that includes abortion coverage — so it is important to assess our seeming incapacity to knit together a reproductive rights coalition that sees universal health care as a medium-term goal.

The issue, it seems, is intimately related to the nonprofit capture problem. And it also speaks to why calls to deemphasize abortion lack a concrete policy strategy. How can we guarantee abortion access without integrating it into a compelling universal program that protects other reproductive rights as well?

Fourth, the movement criticized its own ideology, and then made no strategic improvements. 

For thirty years now, left feminists have been criticizing liberals’ “pro-choice” ideology for failing to address a wide array of reproductive health concerns and inequality of access to it. The “pro-choice” framework is indeed insufficient, but the alternative “reproductive justice” framework is still a largely academic and nonprofit-driven idea that falls prey to the same strategic problems.

In other words, these internal disagreements have done a respectable job of challenging some mainstream liberal feminist narratives but have done little to change the course of the movement. It is politically impotent to have two competing ideologies with no discernible strategic differences. What does it matter if you have a more robust ideological framework if it doesn’t generate a distinct politics? How, we should always ask, does it change the strategy to win abortion rights specifically?

Fifth, the abortion rights movement accepts outdated narratives about what this is all about. 

The Left has held onto the notion that the antiabortion movement is a backlash against the feminist and civil rights movements. The Right, the narrative goes, wants white women back in the home and pumping out babies so as to control them and prevent Anglo-Saxon demographic decline. Women of color are simply collateral damage in this effort. It is, therefore, some amount of feminist success that propels these reactionary politics.

This idea, I think, is upside down. It is feminism’s failure to attack the deep ills of the United States’ political economy that make antiabortion politics a force for reaction. Just look at countries without a militant antiabortion movement: they have public programs to support women, their dependents, and working-class families through crises and tough times. Even if such programs have been hit by austerity, they are there, and they matter. They have insulated abortion rights from conservative challenges by giving everyone a stake in defending those social benefits.

Instead, in the United States, we have white supremacists, black Baptists, Latino Catholics, and “pro-life” Evangelical feminists joining together at demonstrations to accuse clinic escorts of being the Ku Klux Klan incarnate. It’s wild stuff, and it’s partly thanks to our historic inability to win broader social protections.

People are anxious about the social status of the family and women’s fertility for extremely assorted reasons, some of which are completely contradictory. Abortion gives them a focus. What the Left should emphasize, though, is the need to create ties between feminists, the labor movement, and health care campaigning. There is currently a middle- and upper-class bias to most feminist politics in the United States that needs to be thoroughly dissected, understood, and repudiated.

I don’t have an uplifting message to close on. I only have my two cents: the Left should take a deep breath, then regroup to fight on a stronger footing than before. It’s taken the Right fifty years to get where they are, so it is hysterical to insist the “fascists” are nowfinally, charging at the gates — or that another harried vote for Democrats will suddenly change things.

If the antiabortion right are fascists (and some surely are), then consider that they’ve been there, chipping away, for decades, often through the regular organs of the US political system. If that’s the case, then we have long since been living in their world in practice if not in law. Panic is of little political value. So we may as well stop and reflect on our strategic failures, lest we wind up doing the exact same thing over and over again.

And maybe — just maybe — our side will have a “come to Jesus” moment of its own.


Lillian Cicerchia is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at the Free University of Berlin, with a focus on political economy, feminism, and critical theory.

Jacobin, May 12, 2022, https://jacobinmag.com/

Right-wing Supreme Court targets women with Roe v. Wade reversal / John Wojcik

A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, early Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide. | Alex Brandon / AP

The Supreme Court of the United States has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion across the nation. In a shocking and unprecedented leak reported by Politico Monday night, the nation heard the news of the initial majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated among the other justices back on Feb. 10.

This will be the first time in U.S. history that a constitutionally-guaranteed right, in this case the right of women to an abortion, has ever been removed by the Court.

The decision secretly approved by the justices strikes down both Roe v. Wade, the Court’s 1973 ruling that enshrined the constitutional right to an abortion, and a decision in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that essentially upheld that right.

Alito writes in the leaked ruling: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed divisions in the country.”

Some progressive leaders in Congress are urging preemptive legislation to block the Court’s opinion before it can take effect. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said that Senate must toss aside the undemocratic filibuster to immediately pass a law making abortion rights permanent. She also urged an expansion of the number of justices on the Court.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Bush issued a direct challenge to Democrats and the White House:

“Abolish the filibuster. Codify Roe. Expand the Supreme Court. Protect abortion rights by any means necessary.”

She declared, “We need all of the above. This is an emergency.”

Saved by Roe

Once the ruling takes effect, at least half the states in the country are expected to quickly make abortion completely illegal, with poor and working class women and women of color in Republican-governed states having their rights stripped away first.

It would mark a return to the time before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was a crime everywhere.

As late as the early 1970s, for example, police departments and governments around the U.S. were conducting crackdowns on what they called the illegal “abortion industry.” Almost totally forgotten these days are the vicious attacks against women in government-led terroristic campaigns.

Members of the Jane Collective, arrested by Chicago Police. | Chicago Police Department

The story of one such campaign, in Chicago, was being heavily circulated following the Monday night leak after a report in The Guardian. In the early ’70s, police came crashing down on “Call Jane,” a feminist collective of young women who, since 1965, had provided safe but then illegal abortions to roughly 3,000 Chicagoans per year. The collective, led by the famed civil rights and human rights activist Heather Booth, was raided after two Catholic women told police their sister-in-law planned to have an abortion provided by the group.

A homicide detective assigned to the case traced “Jane” to the South Shore neighborhood. There, police raided an apartment, arrested nearly 50 people for questioning, and tore three women who were actively undergoing abortion treatment away from their procedure and hauled them off to the hospital.

Seven women were charged with 11 counts of performing an abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. They would soon be known in Chicago’s newspapers as the “Abortion Seven.”

Members of Call Jane protected the women they served and prevented many of them from being arrested by eating the index cards that bore the details of the patients’ information.

There were similar cases across the country where working class women went to incredible and dangerous lengths to access abortion or to protect those who needed them.

A woman working for the Parks Department in Brooklyn found a woman who performed her own abortion bleeding and dying in a ravine in Prospect Park. She was able to get the woman to the emergency room at a nearby hospital where her life was saved.

In 1973, the Abortion Seven, had to be released by prosecutors when the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade. With the decision, the Court affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion was a constitutional right. It said that states could not ban abortion before 24 weeks into the pregnancy.

Declaring women’s health illegal, again

The nightmare of state harassment suffered by women in Chicago in the early 1970s may pale in comparison to the level of surveillance and repression that could be deployed against women today in an America where abortion is illegal. The data produced by cell phones, internet browsers, search engines, and social media could be used to prosecute women who seek abortions, and the heaviest crackdowns would undoubtedly descend on poor women and women of color.

“It’s like a thought experiment—to think about what ‘Call Jane’ would look like,” in the modern era, said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a technology fellow with the Ford Foundation told the press Monday. Her work in gender, racial, and ethnic justice looks at how law enforcement could use the data produced by digital infrastructure—smartphones, computers, and social media—to prosecute people who have or even assist others in accessing abortions, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“A single mobile phone could reveal the entire collective,” Conti-Cook said. “Just one encounter with law enforcement—a traffic stop, a search, an arrest—could expose the entire network through digital connections.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, at least 26 states would outlaw abortion either immediately or as quickly as possible, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization. Abortion rights advocates say this will result in desperate people travelling to get abortions in more states where the procedure remains legal, such as Illinois or New York. Some 13 states already have so-called “trigger laws” on the books which will outlaw abortion the minute Roe is officially overturned.

Many people in such places are unlikely to make, nor can they afford, the long, expensive, and health-endangering journeys that would be required. The poor, the young, and people of color will more likely be forced to turn to illegal methods, creating another racist feature in the already racist criminal justice system. This disaster would happen in addition to the possible return of the widespread death and health problems that often came with having an illegal abortion before Roe.

Now, stunned women’s rights activists fear a soon-to-come future where abortion may no longer be legal in most of the U.S. and where prosecutions like that of the “Call Jane” collective will become business as usual.

Women as criminals

A return to illegal abortion will be a horror show in the U.S., the country already with the world’s largest law enforcement apparatus and largest incarcerated population. The new reality will cement the U.S.’ status as the country with the largest number of imprisoned women.

Abortion rights advocates march in the 1970s. | AbortionFilms.org

A national organization for defense attorneys has published a report that lays out a future in which the U.S. could undertake “rampant criminalization” and “mass incarceration on an unprecedented scale” in the name of “defense of the unborn.”

“States are laying the groundwork now, and have been laying the groundwork for criminal penalties that are completely different,” than the pre-Roe era, says Lindsay A. Lewis, a New York criminal defense attorney who co-authored a report on abortion for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL).

“They are so much more advanced, and so much harsher than what existed before Roe was enacted.”

State legislatures have spent recent decades “modifying their criminal codes” in ways that “completely change the calculus when it comes to what it would mean to go back to pre-Roe times,” according to Lewis.

The lawyers warn that the states where the procedure is illegal are laying the groundwork to go after even those women who travel to other states where it is legal in order to get abortions denied in their home states.

Criminal charges, the lawyers explain, could come from specific abortion laws, but also from criminal codes that penalize “attempted crimes, conspiracies, and accomplices to crime, all relics of laws developed during the U.S.’ so-called ‘war on drugs.’ Those laws could subject a wide range of individuals to criminal penalties if Roe is overturned”, the NACDL report says.

They would include prosecuting people from states where the procedure is illegal who attempt to seek abortions in states where it remains legal.

For example, Louisiana law defines an “accomplice” to a crime as “anyone involved in its commission, even tangentially, whether present or absent if they aid, abet, or even counsel someone.” Lawyers say this could be used against a wide range of spouses, partners, friends, loved ones, or counselors, such as clergy or abortion fund networks, which help direct people or help transport them to clinics in places where abortion is still legal.

International human rights organizations are condemning the attack on Roe v. Wade. In a brief to the Supreme Court, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health warned that overturning the ruling and banning or criminalizing abortion is “irreconcilable” with international human rights laws.

Justice Alito says in his ruling very clearly: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Four of the other Republican-appointed justices—Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices. The three Democratic-appointed justices were opposed, and the allegiance of Chief Justice John Roberts is not yet known.

If, as expected, the draft ruling is adopted by the Court, it would be a ruling in favor of Mississippi in the controversial case allowing the state to ban abortions after 15 weeks. That would allow each state to decide on its own whether to either restrict or ban abortion entirely. It would also enable a future Republican Congress and president to ban abortion entirely across the whole country.

Several Republican-led states have already passed highly restrictive abortion laws in anticipation of the ruling that has now been leaked. Trump supporters are claiming the leaked ruling as a victory for him. Thanks to his appointments, the Court now has a 6–3 right-wing majority.

Alex Brandon / AP

Politico said it received a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case. The Court declined to confirm what would be the worst security breach in its history, regarding one of its most consequential rulings in history.

Neal Katyal, a former U.S. acting solicitor general who has argued many cases before the Supreme court, said on MSNBC Monday night: “I’ve quickly scanned the draft opinion, and it appears legitimate. This means there was a preliminary vote to fully overrule Roe v. Wade and that a majority of the court agreed. It’s possible the Court could pull back from this position, but this looks like they voted that way after the oral argument.”

Democrats were quick to condemn the ruling. The Democratic National Committee and the party’s senatorial committee chair, Christie Roberts, issued stinging condemnations.

“This Republican attack on abortion access, birth control, and women’s health care has dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election,” Roberts said. At this critical moment, we must protect and expand Democrats’ Senate majority with the power to confirm or reject Supreme Court justices.”

No word has yet emerged on whether the party leadership intends to take up the calls of Rep. Cori Bush to ditch the filibuster, make abortion rights permanent through legislation, or expand the Supreme Court.

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

People’s World, MAy 3, 2022, https://www.peoplesworld.org/

Leaked Draft Opinion Shows Supreme Court Set to Strike Down Roe v. Wade / by Brett Wilkins

Reproductive rights advocates protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on May 2, 2022 following the publication of a draft opinion suggesting Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“While abortion is still legal, tonight’s report makes clear that our deepest fears are coming true. We have reached a crisis moment for abortion access. We don’t have a moment to spare—we must act now.”

A leaked draft opinion published Monday by Politico strongly suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority will soon strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling enshrining the constitutional right to abortion.

“This is the most alarming sign yet that our nation’s highest court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion as we know it and ripping away our freedom to decide if, when, and how to raise our families,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju said in a statement.

In a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that “if the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years—not just on women but on all Americans.”

“The Republican-appointed justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” they added.

Asserting that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in the draft opinion—in which he is reportedly joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—that “we hold that Roe and Casey must be overturned,” a reference to the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion while allowing states to regulate the procedure.

“We can only do our job, which is to interpret the law, apply longstanding principles of stare decisis, and decide this case accordingly,” Alito contended, referring to the legal principle of deference to precedent. Abortion has been a constitutionally enshrined right since 1973—or for a fifth of the nation’s history. 

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” Alito added, “…and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Reproductive rights advocates say that if Roe is struck down, more than 20 states are certain or likely to outlaw abortion, many via so-called “trigger laws.”

“While this is a draft opinion and abortion is still legal, we need to brace for a future where more and more people are punished and criminalized for seeking and providing abortion care,” said Timmaraju. “Now more than ever, we must support those working to provide abortion care and elect champions who will relentlessly fight for reproductive freedom and take bold action to safeguard abortion rights.”

Following the draft opinion’s publication, hundreds of reproductive rights advocates staged a demonstration outside the Supreme Court, where barriers had already been erected in anticipation of protests.

The Politico article’s authors, Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward, noted that “no draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending.”

Gerstein and Ward said Politico received a copy of the draft from “a person familiar with the court’s proceedings” in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that reproductive rights advocates have warned could prove Roe‘s “death knell.”

In addition to Roe, Alito also takes aim at Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 ruling overturning the state’s sodomy ban, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, sparking fears that this could be but the beginning of a wider rollback of civil rights won in recent decades.

Advocates stressed the imperative for Congress to act immediately to shield reproductive freedom at the federal level—and for people to stand up and fight for their rights.

“If SCOTUS is going to legislate from the bench and turn back the clock 50 years on Roe v. Wade, then the Senate needs to pass my Women’s Health Protection Act,” tweeted Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), referring to legislation that would codify the right to abortion nationwide.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted: “Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country now. And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asserted that “it’s time for the millions who support the Constitution and abortion rights to stand up and make their voices heard. We’re not going back—not ever.”


Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams

Common Dreams, May 3, 2022, https://www.commondreams.org/