Our unions must defend the right to abortion

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Below a statement released today of the grassroots caucus, RAFT (Rank-and-File Temple). RAFT is part of the Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP), a local chapter of AFT that represents approximately 2,000 teachers, librarians, and other faculty workers at Temple University.

Abortion rights are under attack from the front by ruling class officials – an attack on one of the most important democratic rights we have: the right to bodily autonomy.

Winning abortion rights was a key victory for working class and oppressed people. This is because the rich in power will always be able to have an abortion. But it is the workers and the oppressed who are attacked when abortion is banned.

Declarations are important; again, they are only one step. From there, it is crucial that all unions gain the power to refuse to work for abortion rights – to give teeth to the call: “If we don’t get it, shut it down!”

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Last week, the unelected, undemocratic Supreme Court struck down a basic human right — a right that feminists have fought for and won for decades: the right to abortion. This decision clearly contradicts public opinion.

The right to abortion, and more broadly the right to bodily autonomy, is above all a key right for workers and the oppressed. The rich in power will always be able to have an abortion. The Supreme Court ruling attacks the poor and working, BIPOC and unemployed who will not be able to travel or pay to access basic reproductive health care or will be disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.

RAFT unequivocally denounces the Court’s horrific and reactionary decision. Abortion is necessary care; it is a fundamental human right, and above all an essential right for workers and the oppressed. Working class and oppressed people must be able to make decisions about their bodies and their lives. Bodily autonomy is at the heart of labor law!

We know that the Court will not stop there. Judge Thomas made it clear to the Court should reconsider rights to same-sex marriage and contraception.

Now is the time to fight. But we already know that the battle cannot be won by voting. Democrats have had fifty years to list Roe v. Wade into federal law. They refused. To wait to vote is to accept defeat. The Supreme Court made that clear by gutting the Voting Rights Act before going down that road.

No one is coming to save us. Only a great show of force from the bottom up – disruption on the streets and in our workplaces – can hope to reverse the tide. We must protect the right to abortion. The undemocratic Supreme Court has declared war on anyone who can have children.

RAFT demands that our union, TAUP (AFT 4531), AFT and the AFL-CIO mobilize all of our unionized brothers and sisters in the streets and fight in our workplaces. No one has ever earned a right by following the rules. Now is the time for our national union and our federation to demand: “Safe, free and universal access to abortion!” And now is the time to win that claim through disruptive actions, on the streets and in the workplace!

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