US election: Who will wage — and win — the battle for full health care and reproductive rights?

[For all the talk of democracy that fills the air and sucks all the oxygen out of the air preventing honest discussion, the capitalist / imperialist system continues to maintain the system of bourgeois class rule with its essential pillars of patriarchy/misogyny/traditional familial property relations, white supremacy/black and brown oppression, xenophobia/exclusion/aggression, Christian club membership, and, bottom line, class exploitation and privilege.

At election times, competing candidates — who have been fully vetted (by the bourgeois powers-that-be) as potential administrators of these systems of power and privilege, oppression and despair — spew volumes of hype and fatuous solutions to the more contentious divides.  But none, ever, speak to the root cause of these systems in the structures of capitalist power, which have invented and/or maintained these pillars throughout its time in power, (and have re-worked and re-branded,  from time to time, these systems).

So, with the Democrats, there has been an embrace of the process of making full use of women workers, professionals, and technicians in service to imperialism.  Upholding women’s reproductive rights including abortion is a critical part of women’s inclusion, BUT it has been steadily restricted (and in many places, practically eliminated and non-existent) on the resource level for poor, working, migrant, imprisoned, unemployed, black, brown, and undocumented women, under every recent President including Obama.  There does not appear to be any effort by the Obama administration or the national Democratic Party to block and roll back these restrictive measures at the state level.  Activists and pro-choice Democratic politicians on the state level have been losing round after round without help from their national party. In this sense, Obama and the national Democratic Party are silent partners and complicit in the growing restrictions on abortion rights.  Obama Democrats have formally supported Roe v Wade but have still let the substantive rights go.  But because rich and professional/petty-bourgeois women have not suffered the loss of reproductive and abortion services — and most people tend to look at these services through their access by privileged classes, (as that is how the mass media tends to frame the issue) — they are praised, though the poor have increasingly lost access to these basic health services.

The other capitalist/imperialist presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in line with the Republican party program, has cast the issue as a formal rejection of public-financed reproductive rights, and toward the formal elimination of Roe vs Wade.  Given the way power works, a Romney in the White House would likely appoint a fellow Christian misogynist to the Supreme Court, which could lead to elimination of Roe vs Wade.  For poor women, this would mean the expansion of forced pregnancies and childbirth, and rapid re-establishment of illegal abortion mills on a massive scale.  At the same time, for privileged women, abortion services would be concealed within readily available and re-named health services, and continued as a class privilege.

Some will vote against Romney this year with hopes that this will secure reproductive rights.  But since this election bears no prospect of eliminating the systems of privilege and power which continue to require restrictions on reproductive rights, no electoral solution  is at hand.  Capitalism vs socialism is not on the ballot.  In the period ahead, as grassroots forces organize and set an independent course from the degrading and confusing bourgeois electoral process, there must be an emphasis on building  and struggling for grassroots health services, including contraceptive and abortion services.  And the importance of developing programmatic unity on these issues — as part of fighting to establish free and complete medical service for all — is essential for the development of the revolutionary forces.

The following article from the New York Times (representing the bourgeois forces who advocate continued administration of the system by Obama) which argues the view that Romney’s program would create more problems.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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How Romney Would Treat Women

By , New York Times, OP-ED COLUMNIST,  November 3, 2012
IN this year’s campaign furor over a supposed “war on women,” involving birth control and abortion, the assumption is that the audience worrying about these issues is just women.

Give us a little credit. We men aren’t mercenaries caring only for Y chromosomes. We have wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, and we have a pretty intimate stake in contraception as well.

This isn’t like a tampon commercial on television, leaving men awkwardly examining their fingernails. When it comes to women’s health, men as well as women need to pay attention. Just as civil rights wasn’t just a “black issue,” women’s rights and reproductive health shouldn’t be reduced to a “women’s issue.”

To me, actually, talk about a “war on women” in the United States seems a bit hyperbolic: in Congo or Darfur or Afghanistan, I’ve seen brutal wars on women, involving policies of rape or denial of girls’ education. But whatever we call it, something real is going on here at home that would mark a major setback for American women — and the men who love them.

On these issues, Mitt Romney is no moderate. On the contrary, he is considerably more extreme than President George W. Bush was. He insists, for example, on cutting off money for cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood.

The most toxic issue is abortion, and what matters most for that is Supreme Court appointments. The oldest justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a 79-year-old liberal, and if she were replaced by a younger Antonin Scalia, the balance might shift on many issues, including abortion.

One result might be the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which for nearly four decades has guaranteed abortion rights. If it is overturned, abortion will be left to the states — and in Mississippi or Kansas, women might end up being arrested for obtaining abortions.

Frankly, I respect politicians like Paul Ryan who are consistently anti-abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. I disagree with them, but their position is unpopular and will cost them votes, so it’s probably heartfelt as well as courageous. I have less respect for Romney, whose positions seem based only on political calculations.

Romney’s campaign Web site takes a hard line. It says that life begins at conception, and it gives no hint of exceptions in which he would permit abortion. The Republican Party platform likewise offers no exceptions. Romney says now that his policy is to oppose abortion with three exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at stake.

If you can figure out Romney’s position on abortion with confidence, tell him: at times it seems he can’t remember it. In August, he abruptly added an exception for the health of the mother as well as her life, and then he backed away again.

Romney has also endorsed a “personhood” initiative treating a fertilized egg as a legal person. That could lead to murder charges for an abortion, even to save the life of a mother.

In effect, Romney seems to have jumped on board a Republican bandwagon to tighten access to abortion across the board. States passed a record number of restrictions on abortion in the last two years. In four states, even a woman who is seeking an abortion after a rape may be legally required to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.

If politicians want to reduce the number of abortions, they should promote family planning and comprehensive sex education. After all, about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive health.

Yet Romney seems determined to curb access to contraceptives. His campaign Web site says he would “eliminate Title X family planning funding,” a program created in large part by two Republicans, George H. W. Bush and Richard Nixon.

Romney has boasted that he would cut off all money for Planned Parenthood — even though federal assistance for the organization has nothing to do with abortions. It pays for such things as screenings to reduce breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Romney’s suspicion of contraception goes way back. As governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception.

Romney also wants to reinstate the “global gag rule,” which barred family planning money from going to aid organizations that even provided information about abortion. He would cut off money for the United Nations Population Fund, whose work I’ve seen in many countries — supporting contraception, repairing obstetric fistulas, and fighting to save the lives of women dying in childbirth.

So when you hear people scoff that there’s no real difference between Obama and Romney, don’t believe them.

And it’s not just women who should be offended at the prospect of a major step backward. It’s all of us.

One thought on “US election: Who will wage — and win — the battle for full health care and reproductive rights?

  1. There’s no battle for “full health care.” Indeed. There is no battle for health care at all. ObamaCare was already passed and it concerns the Republican plan of mandated insurance, not health care. The mandate does not include dental or vision coverage, leaving open the possibility of additional mandates, and additional premiums, for these necessary services.
    And if you think there is a significant difference between Obama and Romney,t hen you are not paying attention to to the secretive policies instituted by Obama. The only real difference Romney would bring to the presidency is sense of indecisiveness if not cowardice to the bold and blatant confidence to this gutting of our country.

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