“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views,” reads the opening of the Supreme Court majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. He goes on to assert that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” and that “[w]e hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” The draft was leaked by an anonymous source on May 2nd. Since then, the only coverage it has received was as fodder for more of the same old games of liberal posturing, and to feign shock that anyone would ever be so brazen as to leak the truth to the public that a body of unelected hacks are single-handedly striking down a fundamental human right enjoyed by all free people.
In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the five examples of actually existing Socialism today, the right to choose is codified and protected under the law.
In China, bourgeois media outlets have claimed that the State Council’s September 2021 outline on the development of women and children included language cracking down on reproductive rights; in reality, the word abortion appears only twice in the whole document. First, it is asserted that the Chinese government will “[i]mplement basic contraceptive service projects, strengthen postpartum and post-abortion contraceptive services, improve service accessibility, and prevent unintended pregnancy.” Then, later in the same section, there is a short sentence reading only “[r]educe non-medically necessary abortions.” This is the part bourgeois media outlets obsessed over. But what exactly does this mean? This is made clear further along in the document as the State Council outlines that “[t]argeted guidance on subject selection and career planning shall be carried out to improve women's ability to make independent choices, and to eliminate the influence of gender factors on women's academic and career development.” The document also specifically asserts that more funding must go towards family planning and child welfare, including especially for ethnic minorities, the poor, and those with special needs. It is clear from any fair reading that the Chinese position is not to limit reproductive rights in any capacity, but rather to ensure that resources, support, and education are made so vastly abundant that the question of abortion will be one of last resort. In a 2004 study in the United States, 73% of respondents who chose abortion stated one of the reasons for doing so was that they couldn’t afford to raise a child. This is a clear material reason and as Marxists, one of our primary interests must always be the material well-being of the oppressed and working classes. If a mother wishes to have an abortion, then she must have right to do so in a safe manner, but if poverty is the deciding force in this decision, then interventions such as those laid out by the State Council in China, to better understand and provide support, is a victory for women’s liberation.
In Vietnam, abortions are legal on-demand. It has been reported that up to 40% of all pregnancies in Vietnam are aborted each year. Such high rates of abortion have led to questions about the material reasons and considerations behind choosing to abort, such as mentioned above, and what mitigating circumstances the state may be able to assist with; not the curtailing of reproductive rights.
Likewise, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it is reported that the right to abortion is protected by law, requiring only an “important reason,” and is free of charge. Notably, not wanting to be pregnant is considered an important reason.
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, reports indicate that abortions are listed in the penal code for cases wherein the mother’s life is not in danger, but also that there are other mitigating circumstances which are taken into account and exceptions are made based on the request and circumstances of the mother. Other sources report that progress on reproductive health is being made, with the emphasis being placed on women’s health and wellbeing.
Understanding the status of reproductive rights in Socialist countries today is necessary as it points to the foundational precedent set by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was the first modern country in history to allow safe, legal, and free on-demand abortions. This historic achievement for reproductive rights was won over 100 years ago, in 1920, and remains the gold standard for equality and freedom -- a standard which the United States has not only failed to live up to, but has actively positioned itself against.
53 years after the historic victory of the Soviet Union on the question of reproductive rights, Roe v. Wade was decided in the United States, and for the first time the right to choose was protected under the law. Today, after less than 50 years, that fundamental right is poised to be stripped away by an unelected body of life-long pig jurists who refuse any semblance of accountability or recourse from the innocent and hard working people they are condemning to suffer and die. This assault on fundamental rights is a crime against humanity, and an indictment of the “law” of bourgeois imperialists, but, most importantly, it is not a one-off issue. This violation of our human rights is a race issue, and this crime against human decency and dignity is an LGBT issue. This fight for fundamental rights is a class issue; one of many battles being fought today on stolen land in the class war against capitalist settler imperialism. If, with the stroke of a pen, the unelected pig jurists and other servants of the rich can do away with reproductive rights, then all forms of equality and decency can be done away with as well.
It is no mistake or coincidence that the decision to turn back almost a half-century of progress in the struggle for human dignity and equality has coincided with the historic resurgence in racism directed against black, indigenous, hispanic, and asian communities; with the historic resurgence in anti-LGBT hatred and legislation outright banning the existence of our queer friends and comrades; or with the historic resurgence in outright fascism and vocal support from the pigs in power from one coast to the other, and on both sides of the aisle. As the contradictions continue to sharpen and the crises of capitalism become more acute, we can expect that all of these things will continue worsening. As they worsen, we must match disunity with unity, hatred with solidarity, ignorance with education, and bourgeois power with people's power.
Likewise, it is no mistake that all of these things have coincided with the resurgence of Socialism on the world stage. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, bourgeois philosopher Francis Fukuyama declared that history itself had ended. Today we see that it is alive and well, and that as the old Soviet song goes, the battle has reignited… and Lenin is young again.
An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. The struggle for liberation and freedom necessarily extends to all peoples, of all backgrounds, and requires all of us to come together and fight back against our shared oppressors. Our forebears learned this lesson in the 20th century, and it is precisely the lesson we must put into practice again today. If we do not share the same battle lines today against the fascist, capitalist, racist, misogynist, imperialist, and xenophobic danger, then tomorrow we will share a mass grave. On this, history is clear.