On Sept. 8, the Proud Boys — an alt-right, all-male, anti-women, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hate group — will hold their third “Defund Planned Parenthood” rally in the past three months. They will be in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic on Madison and 20th.
These rallies are taking place against a grim backdrop: A bigoted sexist in the White House; a reactionary, anti-choice Supreme Court nominee on track to be confirmed in the fall; the future of Roe v. Wade in question and the growth of the far right in this country and around the world.
I’ve spent a lot of time around abortion. I’ve worked as a reproductive rights activist, an abortion doula and, for the past three years, I’ve been a medical assistant at an abortion clinic. I provide education, counseling and support to people getting abortions, so I know people have abortions for many reasons, each one as valid as the next.
What I also know is that restrictions on — and de facto criminalization of — abortions affect poor and working-class people the most.
Abortion is already far more difficult for poor and working class women to obtain. The Hyde Amendment, a reactionary piece of legislation originally passed into law in 1977, stipulates that federal funding may not be used for the provision of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. Seventeen states (including Washington) use state funding to cover abortion for low-income people on Medicaid, but in the remaining 33 states, people who use Medicaid must fund their own abortions, which cost, on average, between $500 and $800 in the first trimester.
Many states also have “trigger laws,” which will immediately make abortion illegal in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. If that happens, women in those states will have no option but to travel across state. They will have to take time off work, find childcare, pay for gas or a plane ticket and pay for their procedure. We know that these barriers are easy for the wealthy to overcome — but they’re impossible for most working people.
If the Proud Boys get their wish of “defunding PP,” if Roe v. Wade is overturned or if the legislature votes to make abortion illegal, make no mistake: Poor, working class women will suffer, while wealthy women will still be able to find a way. Right wing extremists like the Proud Boys know that.
When they talk about making abortion illegal, they mean making it illegal for poor women. What they mean is to cause direct harm to marginalized women.
We need to be ready to shut this country down if the right to abortion is threatened.
If we, as working class people, want to protect our right to an abortion, we need a sustained, massive, non-violent movement in the streets and workplaces. We need to be ready to shut this country down if the right to abortion is threatened.
That means labor unions must be ready to call strikes to stop Kavanaugh or any future attack on Roe v. Wade; it means women and working people ready to march en masse to demand our politicians listen to our demands; it means solidarity with women in different workplaces, in different states and in different countries. Such a movement could go beyond abortion to demand Medicare for all, housing for all and fully-funded public schools.
We are told by politicians that these reforms aren’t affordable, but that’s only true if you accept the race-to-the-bottom logic of capitalism. Our starting point must be to demand full equality and full access to reproductive healthcare for all women.
The time is now to fight back against the far right. Please join the counter-protests this Saturday, September 8th on Madison and 20th at 7 a.m. Let’s show the far right that there’s a movement in this town ready to fight for the right to choose.
Annelie Day is an abortion care medical assistant.
Check out the full Sept. 5 - Sept. 11 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change.