Abortion access with absolutely zero barriers is fundamental to a truly free society.
The leaked draft of Samuel Alito’s majority decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade is the culmination of generational mobilizations by both the Republican and Democratic parties. Conservatives cultivated decades of effort to build a machine of advocacy groups, policy clearinghouses, judicial recruitments and elected officials at every level with this moment in mind. There's an entire solar system of Republican issues but in terms of policy aims this is the star that holds it all together and the rest revolves around. Democrats, for their part, have used the specter of this effort to fundraise.
The end results speak for themselves.
At the beginning of the Obama presidency, Democrats held not only a trifecta of government (as they do today) but filibuster-proof control of the Senate. Obama promised to push federal legislation that would federally protect the right for people to govern their own bodies and end abortion as a political football. No votes ever came.
The Democratic Party’s strategy of advancing civil rights solely through the courts in order to minimize political risk and maximize demands for continual support from donors and voters has failed and now the bill is due. Alito’s words illustrate a broadening horizon of rightwing cultural aims: the end of not only marriage equality, but a path to returning to state bans on gay sex; not only a collection of cells as a basis for personhood, but an end to the right to contraception that was the very foundation of Roe vs. Wade.
These failures are possible because our civic society is designed to deliver results for elites and to discourage democratic, majority action. Not just the filibuster but the entire Senate, the Electoral College, the very institution of a Supreme Court filled by lifetime appointments from people never once chosen by the people they rule, all of these are anti-democratic throttles on the will of the people to ensure that the rich and powerful can narrow and limit political choices to suit their needs.
The rich, conservatives and liberals alike, will always have access to abortion on demand. Whether it’s as simple as crossing state lines or a national border, or the ability to summon concierge medical care, the ruling class will never need to fear the consequences of this decision. They can instead toast their accomplishments, personal and professional, while the actual drama and wreckage plays out in the lives of the working class.
Leadership and politics are about action. What are liberals doing besides waiting for these people with lifetime appointments to die? It's time to talk about the fundamental lack of legitimacy of the court. It’s time to talk about the end of the filibuster, as both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are calling for. It’s time to talk about how the only path forward is in solidarity and mass action. If they won’t give us democracy, we will create it.
Establishment Democrats have understood that Roe was precarious for twenty years and have done nothing. Polite centrist leadership is what led us to this moment. It’s time to leave it behind.
This statement is far from the last word, but for now we have two invitations for you: join DSA & help us build a better world, and donate to the Kentucky Health Justice Network to preserve and expand access to abortion here in Kentucky.
JP Lyninger & Janessa Lea Puckett, Co-Chairs Louisville DSA