Abortion

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In April 1992, abortion was thrust onto the center stage of U.S. politics again, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepared to hear Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which threatened to severely restrict women access to abortion. In the lead-up to a mass protest planned for Washington, D.C. that month, Sharon Smith wrote this article looking at the state of women's right to abortion. This article first appeared in the April 1992 issue of Socialist Worker. IN THE early 1970s, the women's movement demanded that abortion be legalized as part of a larger movement for women's rights. It was clear that, without control over their own reproductive lives, women couldn't be the equals of men--no matter what advances women made in the job market or in higher education. This is why socialists argue that all women deserve the right to control their own bodies, without interference from anyone. And in the 1970s, the women's movement demanded legal abortion as a right which should be available to all women--no matter how poor or how young, married or not. Today, however, the entire terrain of the abortion debate has been shifted. For more than a decade, the right to abortion has been steadily eroded, so that now the debate is over who should be able to pre-empt a woman's choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, laws now exist which allow parents, husbands or state governments to prevent pregnant women from having abortions. Increasingly, abortion has been transformed from a right to a privilege, denied to ever greater numbers of women. Thirty-seven states do not provide abortion funding for poor women's abortions. And 32 of these won't even fund abortions for poor women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or in cases of a severely deformed fetus. Thirty-five states have laws requiring women under the age of 18 to notify or obtain the consent of a parent before they can have an abortion. A Pennsylvania law now being reviewed by the Supreme Court requires married women to...
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