Commentary: On the suffering of the masses for capitalist and imperialist gains / by Raina Overskride

Photo credit: Courtesy CPUSA

“Standing up for our values is not without cost”

The last couple of months have brought clarity to many within the masses, when it comes to the oppressive nature of capitalism and the lengths the ruling class will go to achieve its goals regardless of the suffering that is created in its path of destruction.

The rising cost of food, gas, oil, consumer goods and overall scarcity of products on shelves such as baby formula and women’s hygienic products have left many struggling in trying to keep themselves and their families fed or trying not to fall behind on bills and mortgages or rent.

This has led many people to skip meals or resort to buying heavily processed unhealthy foods that do not provide adequate nutrition and will eventually lead to health problems many of which will not be able to be properly addressed due to lack of insurance or access to safe affordable healthcare.

The current Biden administration has been nothing short of incompetent and unapologetic in dealing with this crisis.

The Biden administration has instead focused its priority onto assisting and funding Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, such as Azov Battalion, in various ways such as sending weapons, oil, gas, and money, while countless people suffer here in Maine and across thecountry. Rough estimates, at least as of May 2022, put the cost around $55 Billion Dollars with much more on the way.

Imagine for a moment what $55B could do for the countless people who are houseless or going hungry here in this country. This is a simply astonishing thing to imagine that while the masses here are suffering, the so called “leader of the free world” decides, ‘Yeah those neo-Nazis in Ukraine, let’s help them while the people here suffer.’

That is all just icing on the cake of oppression that many are facing today.
Recently, if we consider the destruction of women’s rights in this country and the absolute timid response by the democrats.

We can see that the democrats have no plan in place to fight against this. Instead they chose to send out emails and text messages asking people to donate money for their campaigns with the promise of protecting Roe v Wade.

This is an absolutely unacceptable response and a rather disgusting one to be honest.

The democrats had DECADES to codify Roe v Wade into law and literally chose not to do it because that was their big carrot on the stick to get you, the voter, into the voting booth. Well, that carrot is gone now, and the democrats have done NOTHING to materially change the conditions of the people. This includes many issues people voted them into office to do such as canceling student debt, Medicare for All, affordable housing, economic relief, climate crisis and so on and so forth.

When you take the war raging in Europe into account, which will never de-escalate as-long-as the United States and its criminal partners keep waging a proxy war against Russia, we are not getting out of this mess anytime or soon.

Some say we can “reform” our way out of this is a rather delusional idea. Let’s examine this fantasy, shall we? We currently have a Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative lifetime appointees. It is a court stacked in the far right’s favor. Some people will say, “expand the courts,” but this will just lead to a never ending back and forth of court appointees pushing their own agenda.

This is a nonsensical path. The other option I hear is: Well, we just gotta “vote harder.” This is also nonsensical and delusional considering current material conditions. Mind you, it’s a very easy thing to observe that all of this is happening under a democratically controlled House, Senate and Presidency, a political situation that has done nothing to help the masses-as-a-whole.

I must also note this is not a call to vote for the right-wing candidates or Republicans, as they are just as bad if not worse than the Democrats in many ways.

Many more issues could be added to this article, such as the rising threat of fascism or the rampant attempted transgender genocide happening across the country, especially in places like Florida and Texas. Also, the horrific threat that Black, indigenous, and peoples of color face here in this country due to all these issues touched on in this article and other subjects not raised for lack of space, like the public executions’ pigs carry out against black and brown bodies.

These are truly arduous times now, and ahead, but personally, from my analysis, at least in the short term there are some things the masses can do to fight this capitalist oppression.

  1. Join a progressive or socialist organization that is grass roots in dealing with the issues covered in this article.
  2. Get in the fight and join CPUSA and help build a better world.
  3. Read and learn communist theory that is out there, and put in the work in your local community, such as attending protests and organizing with those in your community, to put that theory into practice.
  4. Get involved with mutual-aid efforts in your area to help those vulnerable in your communities. If a mutual-aid project is not available in your area, try to start one.
  5. Lastly, for you the voter, you have some political leverage. The capitalists will not tell you about the power you possess. It is a leverage that they fear. The current administration wishes to stay in power and will sell you the world and offer you the platitudes they think you want to hear. But regarding a pressing issue like Abortion Rights, the masses could withhold their votes in November, until Roe v. Wade is codified into law. This sort of action would force the Biden Administration to either (A) make it law, or, (B) lose power, while less than impressive, would still send a message to the Democrats that the masses will not settle for idle talk while the people suffer.

I will admit I do not have the answers. But these are some of the pressing issues we all face. Sure, many will just call for revolution. While in the long term I agree 100%, that is not something we can just press a button to make happen. I feel this current struggle and the many more to come will be nothing more than waves leading to revolution. However, in the short term, the masses need to organize and mobilize not only around single issues but around the general struggle to destroy capitalism and imperialism and replace them with socialism.

I will leave you the voter a quote from Kwame Ture:

“The job of a revolutionary is, of course, to overthrow unjust systems and replace them with just systems because a revolutionary understands this can only be done by the masses of the people. So, the task of the revolutionary is to organize the masses of the people, given the conditions of the Africans around the world who are disorganized, consequently, all my efforts are going to organizing people.”

Raina Overskride is an activist who writes from Lewiston, Maine.

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,

‘Dangerous and chilling:’ Maine advocates decry Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe / by Evan Popp

Photo: Sen. Susan Collins meets with Justice Brett Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. | Zach Gibson, Getty Images

In a decision by a conservative majority largely appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday struck down Roe v. Wade, invalidating the constitutional protection to an abortion in a decision that immediately puts reproductive rights at risk in 26 Republican-led states.

The ruling was 6-3, with conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett upholding a Mississippi law that would prevent most abortions after 15 weeks while also outright overturning the 1973 Roe decision that enshrined abortion rights into law. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment to uphold the Mississippi statute. 

Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett, Roberts and Alito were all appointed by presidents who originally won the White House despite losing the popular vote. 

The court’s three liberals, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, issued a blistering dissent of the radical conservative court’s opinion. “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” Breyer wrote. 

The ruling comes after a draft opinion leaked in May showed a majority of justices were prepared to overturn abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade. That draft opinion generated outrage, but the ultimate outcome of the case remained unchanged. 

‘A fundamental assault on women’s rights’ 

Abortion rights in many conservative-led states are likely to be immediately curbed following the decision. 

In Maine, though, lawmakers have codified abortion into state law, meaning it is still legal following the ruling. However, the entire state legislature and the Blaine House are up for grabs in November’s election and the Maine Republican Party and GOP gubernatorial nominee Paul LePage are hostile to abortion rights, putting reproductive health care at risk if the former governor and a Republican majority are elected in November. 

Current Democratic Gov. Janet Mills is a supporter of abortion and decried the Supreme Court ruling in a statement Friday. 

“This decision is a fundamental assault on women’s rights and on reproductive freedom that will do nothing to stop abortion. In fact, it will only make abortion less safe and jeopardize the lives of women across the nation,” Mills said. “In Maine, I will defend the right to reproductive health care with everything I have, and I pledge to the people of Maine that, so long as I am governor, my veto pen will stand in the way of any effort to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

Others around the state also condemned the court’s ruling. 

“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives,” said Nicole Clegg, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant.”

Clegg emphasized that abortion is still legal in Maine but noted the threat that LePage and Republicans in the state pose to reproductive health rights. She added that despite the actions of a reactionary Supreme Court, support for legal abortion remains strong around the country, with about 80% of people in favor.

Those in need of abortion-related health care can go to or call Planned Parenthood of Northern New England at 1-866-476-1321 to book an appointment, Clegg said.

In response the decision, Clegg said the group is organizing a march tonight at 5:15 p.m. in support of abortion rights. The rally will start at Lincoln Park in Portland and continue to City Hall, where there will be speakers. In addition, Maine’s three abortion providers — Planned Parenthood, Maine Family Planning and the Mabel Wadsworth Center — will be holding an online forum June 25 at 6:30 p.m. to provide an opportunity for community members to respond to the ruling. 

“The impacts of this decision will fall hardest on people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care — particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, and those having difficulty making ends meet,” a spokesperson for Maine Family Planning wrote in an email.  

“The right to abortion should be protected at the national level and not left to the states. But with this decision, Maine people must lift their voices together and declare emphatically that we will not be rolling back rights here in Maine,” the organization added. 

Others around the state also weighed in on the decision, with the ACLU of Maine calling the ruling shameful and emphasizing the need to safeguard the right to an abortion in the state. Maine Democratic Socialists of America criticized the ruling as well and wrote on Twitter that the group will be holding a rally at Portland’s Monument Square at 2 p.m. on June 26, where people can hear from “abortion recipients, providers, and organizers, connect with attendees and form networks of support and action.” 

Collins under fire after ruling

Following the decision, advocates directed ire at Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who purports to support abortion rights but has helped block attempts to codify reproductive health care into law in the face of the Supreme Court case challenging Roe

Collins also famously cast a pivotal vote in favor of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault and who many feared would rule against abortion rights. In defending her vote for Kavanaugh, Collins repeatedly claimed that the judge — along with Gorsuch, who she also voted to confirm — would respect precedent set by Roe v. Wade and not vote to overturn it. On Friday, however, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch both voted to strip the constitutional protection to an abortion. 

When the draft opinion was leaked in May, advocates expressed frustration that they had repeatedly warned Collins about what voting for Kavanaugh and Gorsuch would mean for abortion rights. “Susan Collins told American women to trust her to protect Roe. She lied,” read the headline of one opinion piece published by the Daily Beast.  

Following Friday’s ruling, Collins told reporters that the decision was “inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon.” The Maine Republican added that the court’s ruling overturning abortion “is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”

However, the group Mainers for Accountable Leadership argued that by voting for Kavanaugh and Gorsuch after reproductive health advocates begged her to oppose them, Collins chose a path that helped lead to Friday’s decision. 

“Senator Collins, the overturning of Roe and Casey is your legacy,” the group tweeted. “While you call yourself a trailblazing woman you have used that power to take away a woman’s bodily autonomy. That’s enabling patriarchal and misogynistic systems. We will never forget.” 

The Maine Democratic Party also criticized the senator, arguing that Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh and “other virulently anti-choice justices” in part paved the way for abortion rights to be overturned.  

Others in the state’s congressional delegation weighed in on Friday’s ruling as well. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree called the decision catastrophic and said it represents “the culmination of a decades-long effort by Republican extremists to install anti-choice justices on a high court that routinely overrules Congress and the public’s will with impunity.” 

In his statement, Sen. Angus King said the decision was “infuriating” but “unfortunately not a surprise.” He said the goal of overturning abortion rights through the Supreme Court was made explicit by Trump and was a large reason for why — in contrast with Collins — he voted against confirming Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. 

“This ruling goes against the wishes of the majority of Americans, and lays a terrifying groundwork for this court to unravel many other hard-earned civil rights in the years ahead,” King said. 

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(at)

Maine Beacon, June 24, 2022,

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,

Maine News: Crowd Rallies in Portland for Abortion Rights, Calls Out Collins / by Bonnie Washuck

Alison Whitney, 84, of South Paris holds a protest sign while sitting in a lawn chair at Canal Plaza in Portland on Saturday | Ben McCanna/ Staff Photographer, PPH

About 200 demonstrate outside U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office downtown, and many want Roe v. Wade to be codified under federal law.

A crowd of about 200 people rallied for abortion rights Saturday afternoon outside U.S. Se Susan Collins’ downtown Portland office, joining a national backlash against Maine’s senior senator for her votes to confirm U.S. Supreme Court justices who appear poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Rose Dubois of York led the crowd with chants.

“When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do?” she said.

“Stand up! Fight back!” the crowd answered.

Many of those at the demonstration held homemade signs, including one that read “Being forced to wear masks goes against your rights? Imagined being forced to carry a pregnancy.”

Another read: “Susan, we’re looking at you!”

Collins, a self-styled abortion-rights moderate, was the deciding vote in 2018 to place Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court bench. She also supported conservative Neil Gorsuch for the high court. Both made private pledges to her to respect the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Collins said. But this past week a leaked draft opinion indicated that both justices would vote to overturn the precedent.

Collins on Tuesday issued a statement saying their assurances were “completely inconsistent” with the draft opinion. Emails to her office were not returned Saturday. Collins says she supports federal legislation to protect abortion rights, but not a measure that the Democrats are pushing.

At the rally on Saturday, Devyn Shaughnessy of Portland said Collins “has betrayed us in the past, but this is a pivotal moment where she has the opportunity to codify Roe v. Wade.” Votes are needed to protect abortion rights under federal law, and if Collins and a fellow Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, do not vote to do so, “they’ll have blood on their hands,” Shaughnessy.

Jo Ophardt, a member of the Maine Democratic Socialists of America, leads a group of about 200 people in a chant during protest in favor of reproductive rights on Saturday in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Under the draft opinion, abortion policy would be left up to the states, so which ever political party is in power could decide if it’s legal. “People are saying, ‘Maine’s ok. We’re okay for now,” Shaughnessy said. But in upcoming elections if Republicans take control and Maine “turns red, we’ll be in trouble,” she said.

One of the speakers at the rally was Dave Aceto of Portland who urged men to join the abortion conversation. They should not just show up with flowers on Mother’s Day, he said. Sons, brothers, and husbands should stick up for abortion rights of women.”

“Men where are you?” he said.

Abortion is a human right. Abortion is a health issue,” Aceto added. “To men I say it is time for you get involved. It is all of our voices that will keep abortions legal, safe and readily available.”

And to cheers he said:  “The days of white men having control over people’s bodies must end.”

Another speaker was Jeanne Lafferty of Portland, who remembers when abortion was illegal in the early 1970s. “We made it legal,” Lafferty said. “I have another question for you. Can we do it again?”

The crowd yelled “yes.”

The fight for abortion rights will have to be an ongoing, inclusive, national movement, she said.

What won’t work, Lafferty and others warned, is a few protests, a few demonstrations and marches, but then the anger fades and people “go home.”

What’s needed, said Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier, is consistency and bravery. She said the establishment will be ready for protests, chants and anger, but it’s not prepared for consistent, weekly messages.

She gave the crowd a list of steps to take, including a May 14 Day of Action by a Planned Parenthood committee that is looking for people to knock on doors during the day.

Pelletier also told rally participants to  “give our girl Sue a call” at her Washington office and urge her to protect abortion rights. Ans she encouraged them to write letters to Maine’s congressional delegation every week. Calling and writing again and again may not seem like it will make a difference, but it will, she said.

Abigail Forcier of Lyman said she attended the rally because “it’s most important to me that women retain the right to control their own bodies.” She also wants Roe v. Wade codified in federal law.

“Collins needs to really rally for that, to be a big a part of making that happen, and to speak for women everywhere,” Forcier said.

Originally published in the Portland Press Herald, May 8, 2022,

“We are trying to transform society”: a socialist perspective on the abortion rights struggle / by Natalia Marques

Garcia speaking at a demonstration for abortion rights in New York City, shortly after the draft decision was leaked – Photo: PSL

On the night of May 3, a US Supreme Court draft decision regarding the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was leaked to the press. As per the draft, penned by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court is set to overturn the historic decision, eliminating the right to abortion for millions of women. In response, thousands have taken to the streets of US cities, demanding that the right to abortion be protected. Activists and the millions of women in the streets hope that this outpour can sway the final Supreme Court decision.

Karina Garcia is an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and a writer for socialist feminist magazine Breaking the Chains. She has been organizing since she was 17 years old, when she founded a women’s rights organization at her high school. For the past ten years, she worked with a national reproductive justice organization focused on the Latina community. Peoples Dispatch interviewed Garcia to discuss her perspective on the current moment in the struggle for abortion access in the US.

Peoples Dispatch: Why is it that the ruling class in the United States is fighting so hard against abortion rights, specifically now? What has changed about the current moment?

Karina Garcia: This is really an attempt to distract, divide and confuse the people. 

People are facing so many problems, whether it’s poverty wages, a lack of health care, lack of sick days, lack of all sorts of protections, clean water, food, all these very obvious social problems that actually have solutions. If the government put the massive amounts of resources that exist in this country into these issues, we would actually be able to provide people with all of the basic necessities, not just in this country, but in the world, overnight. We have those resources now. 40% of the food in this country is wasted. We spend trillions of dollars on the military industrial complex, starting new wars.

The resources all exist for people to live dignified lives and to have food, health care, housing, education, all the things that they need, but we have a ruling class that doesn’t want that. They want to keep starting new wars and they want to keep accumulating endless amounts of profits. 

The fact of the matter is, people’s living conditions in this country have not improved, they’ve gotten worse. Inequality has only been sharpened during this pandemic. The complete failure and inability of the government to meet the people’s basic needs has been exposed for all to see. They couldn’t even pass Build Back Better, which would barely get us to a level of social welfare that’s comparable to other countries in the global north. They didn’t do anything, not that they couldn’t, but they just wouldn’t. They can make all the excuses they want: the filibuster, this or that politician, we’ve heard it all and it’s worthless. When they want something to pass, they get their people in line and they pass it. When it comes to tax cuts for the rich and bailouts for the banks, they act immediately and with complete urgency. So we’re not having it. 

Right now there are all of these looming social problems that exist in society, and abortion access is just that thing that they are able to use, that they’re trying to use to scapegoat and to divide people. It presents an opportunity for them to distract. Our class is mostly unorganized, so they can use these wedge issues because they have control over the media.

They use these wedge issues to divide people based on what they call moral issues. But the fact of the matter is, we know that it has nothing to do with morality at all, because the states where they are enacting the most vicious and cruel restrictions on abortion access are the places where women and families have it the worst. Texas, for example, is one of the worst places to be if you’re a woman or a child, because there’s so little support, from child poverty to lack of access to child care, to poor, underfunded schools. 

The restrictions on abortion have nothing to do with actually improving people’s lives, or protecting people’s lives or protecting families. It has everything to do with providing no solutions and no major changes in society, not actually providing anything material for people other than scapegoating, propaganda, division, humiliation, shame. That’s the only thing that they can offer, to put down and shame people. 

It’s disgusting. But it has nothing to do with the population. It has nothing to do with wanting more workers or wanting a more moral society. It’s a way to score political points with religious voting blocks without actually making any material changes to people’s lives.

PD: What do you think it will take to sway the court’s decision on Roe v. Wade?

KG: What has happened has provided us with a really big opportunity. The myth is that the Supreme Court is this higher, almost holy body, that is only moved by arguments and whatever is written on paper. That’s just ahistorical. The Supreme Court is highly political. They’re highly affected by social movements, the things that are happening in society, over and above everything else: their function is to provide stability for the capitalist system. 

And whenever there are movements that are challenging the status quo, that can be explosive, it creates a level of instability that they don’t want to deal with. That’s the kind of instability that we have to show them. If they think that they’re going to roll back the rights of half the population, that they’re going to put us in this endless position of humiliation and domination and control and that we’re not going to do anything about it, they’re mistaken. 

This has provided us an opportunity. Whoever leaked that draft decision is a hero. Because they’re giving us a chance to fight now. Influence them now. Make them feel it now. 

Kavanaugh is a DC frat boy, he’s not a religious zealot. He can totally be moved. And, you know what? At the end of the day, any one of them can be.

PD: Is Roe v. Wade enough? And if not, what more do we need? 

KG: Roe v. Wade is not enough. We’ve known for years that Roe v. Wade is not enough, because you can have any right on paper. The fact of the matter is that 90% of counties in the United States don’t have abortion clinics. Not only that, but people don’t have health care, people don’t have child care. This is about our lives and our families living dignified lives.

Abortion is just one part of health care. It’s a part of the fight for reproductive justice. The fight for socialism is a fight for all of our needs to be met, for us to have the resources and the wealth that we create put towards the things that matter to us, the things that that we really need. Clean water, clean energy, housing, health care, education, all those things are part of reproductive justice. They’re a way for families to live with dignity. 

We’re not really for imposing one or another view of what families should or shouldn’t be. We’re for providing people with what they need to be able to create the families that they want with the resources that they deserve. Whether that’s more support for fertility treatments for people who are having difficulty conceiving, or better or more accessible forms of contraception, to be able to have an abortion if they need it, if they want it, if it makes sense for them.

All of those things are what’s needed, what’s really required. Roe is an important baseline, but we have to go beyond it too. 

PD: What are some major obstacles for building a movement that can win abortion rights for everyone?

KG: One of the obstacles that we face is that a lot of people don’t have basic sex education. They really don’t understand the process of pregnancy and so that makes them vulnerable to the cynical and despicable vitriol that is put out by the right wing antis. Another challenge, and I think the challenge that the whole movement faces, is the nonprofit industrial complex. Just the fact that so many issues are separated and that and there’s real divisions, of course, in our class, but we don’t have a very highly developed national movement for something more comprehensive.

We are trying to transform society. We think that our resources should be used to fight racism, to fight sexism, to overcome the historic exploitation and super-exploitation and oppression of certain communities and actually build up a society that meets all of our needs, the needs of the many, not the few, a society that aligns with our values for dignity and justice.

Having that collective vision, a program that ties together all of the different social movements, that’s historically one of the challenges that we face in this country.

PD: How do activists overcome the divisions within society that already exist in order to build this movement?

KG: Political education is really important. In addition to bringing people out in the street, we have to bring people together to deepen their understanding of what’s behind these attacks so that we can see that this is part of a bigger attack on our communities as a whole. When they’re coming after one segment of our community, [help them see] it actually hurts all of us. An injury to one is an injury to all. That can’t just be some slogan. It has to become a fact.

And we’ve seen a lot of solidarity over the years out on the streets and I think that we’re going to see that again. But solidarity is really earned and trust and respect for each other is really earned. We get that and we give that by coming out for each other, struggling side by side.

PD: You’ve been in the streets these past few days. What is the mood of the people? What have you been noticing? 

KG: People were so happy when we were marching down the street. People joined us from the sidewalks, they were cheering and chanting alongside us. That kind of feeling is electrifying, it’s magnetic, and it spreads. That’s why it’s important to get out into the streets.

And it’s a complete distraction to just say, oh, we have to focus on getting the Democrats elected, let’s all vote. Please. We’re past that. That’s our enemies talking, confusing us, and lulling us back to sleep. We have to stay out in the streets so that we continue to bring our people out and break through this facade of apathy.

People know what’s going on and they have seen and experienced that their vote hasn’t fundamentally changed the things around them. It’s bigger than choosing between these two ruling parties: we need a new system. It’s a really patronizing way of thinking and is just downright disrespectful to say that all the people that don’t vote just don’t care or are apathetic or are somehow to blame for this rotten system of these capitalist politicians who use all of our resources and then have the nerve to blame the people themselves for the problems that they’ve created.

PD: What can the movement in the US learn from the struggles in Latin America for abortion rights?

KG: Stay in the streets. Our sisters in Latin America, they won their rights the way that we won our rights to begin with. They fought for them. They took them. They built strong independent organizations, people’s organizations. They’re connected to a broader socialist vision of all of the different rights that they deserve. It wasn’t about just waiting for these politicians to change their mind.

They were able to win their rights by exercising and showing their strength, the strength of their organizations, building them tirelessly day by day through actions, great and small, supporting each other, helping each other. All of these ways that you show you care about each other. You build up your organization that makes you so much more powerful, so much more difficult to ignore, coopt, and divide, when you are building strong political organizations in your community with a shared vision of what you want.

People’s Dispatch, May 6, 2022,

Overturning Roe v. Wade Shows the Right Has Nothing but Contempt for Democracy / by Ben Beckett

Demonstrators attend a rally in support of abortion rights on May 3, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder / Getty Images)

The Right in the US has long been a brazenly antidemocratic force. The latest example is the apparent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the population and the individual rights of millions of people.

A leaked draft decision written by Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito suggests it’s all but certain Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned. The ruling will immediately make abortion illegal in half the country, and commentators have noted the decision seems designed to encourage Republicans to push for an abortion ban at the national level.

The ruling, which will restrict the autonomy and fundamental rights of tens of millions of women, will be enacted by four or five unelected men and one unelected woman. Such a decision can only be described as authoritarian. (There is some speculation Chief Justice John Roberts might not join the other Republican justices in supporting Alito’s decision.)

If the decision stands, it will be a high-water mark for the Right’s project of undemocratic rule, and will almost certainly give conservatives confidence to further attack democratic institutions and individual rights. As the draft decision shows, the Supreme Court is arguably the most powerful weapon the Right has for ruling without and against the people.

While the Supreme Court is especially insulated from democracy and accountability, this authoritarian impulse has always been at the core of conservatism, and the Right has always had a tenuous relationship to democracy. Historically, it has only acceded to democratic demands kicking and screaming, and it has consistently tried to roll back democratic practices and revert power to unaccountable elites.

As I wrote in December, this project has accelerated significantly since the rise of Donald Trump, both in rhetoric and substance. While the desire to overturn Roe v. Wade long precedes Donald Trump’s presidency, Alito’s decision is best understood in the context of the broader counter-democratic movement that has been picking up steam for the past seven years.

So far, the Right has generally refrained from directly calling for less democracy; nor has it given up on trying to win popular support, especially when it has a virtually unlimited pot of dark money to run elections and to advance the candidacies of Supreme Court justices themselves. Instead, conservatives frame themselves as the true champions of democracy and the victims of cheating or “illegitimate” voters when they lose votes, a tactic the Court itself deployed when it handed George W. Bush the presidency in 2000.

Using these false claims of foul play as a pretext, conservatives then move to restrict access to democratic decision-making to those groups that support them, while making it more difficult for their opponents to vote, assemble, or even teach basic elements of American history. Finally, conservatives push decision-making to those institutions they have already captured through a mix of democratic and undemocratic means. There is little consistency as to why one government entity or another is the proper one to make the decision in question, except that the one conservatives control is always the right one.

Alito’s decision plays into this dynamic. He writes, “Roe and Casey must be overruled and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.” Here is the characteristic appeal to democracy, which of course makes no mention of the extensive gerrymandering the GOP has used to all but ensure itself long-term rule despite its diminishing democratic support. Nor does Alito mention the extensive voter suppression the party has engaged in, and which the Supreme Court itself has enthusiastically supported.

Thanks to the Right’s gerrymandering, voter suppression, and campaign finance tactics, many of which accelerated dramatically after favorable rulings from the Supreme Court over the past decade, access to abortion will be greatly restricted by elected officials — which Alito surely knows. This will happen despite wide margins of Americans supporting legal abortion in all or some circumstances, and 59 percent saying that absent Roe, they want state abortion laws that are “more permissive than restrictive.”

There is no reason to think this will get any better, or to expect another outcome when it comes to other important issues. The six Republican Supreme Court justices are among the most powerful right-wing operatives in the country. It’s silly to pretend they are anything else, expect logical or legal consistency, or argue with them in the press as if reason will change their mind.

There is a special sense of helplessness here. Anyone who pays even a little bit of attention to politics knows exactly what will happen, and knows that no one will stop it. The justices will surely continue to find reasons to strike down popular legislation and regulations that were enacted by “the people and their elected representatives,” just as surely as they will find reasons to return questions of individual liberty, voting rights, and freedom of assembly and expression to state governments dominated by conservative extremists sure to restrict them. The legal arguments are bluster and finely written sophistry. It’s all just motivated reasoning for raw power: they’re all for democracy, as long as they can first guarantee that they’ll win.

Ben Beckett is an American writer in Vienna.

Jacobin, May 4, 2022,

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. |

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,

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,