Amazon, Walmart billionaires finance anti-women politicians


This 27 July 2018 American Civil Liberties Union video from the USA says about itself:

We Tested Amazon’s Facial Recognition Software

Amazon’s face surveillance technology is the target of growing opposition nationwide, and today, there are 28 more causes for concern. In a test the ACLU recently conducted of the facial recognition tool, called “Rekognition”, the software incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress, identifying them as other people who have been arrested for a crime.

The members of Congress who were falsely matched with the mugshot database we used in the test include Republicans and Democrats, men and women, and legislators of all ages, from all across the country.

The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). These results demonstrate why Congress should join the ACLU in calling for a moratorium on law enforcement use of face surveillance.

From UltraViolet in the USA, 27 November 2019:

Amazon gave at least $15,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which supports politicians who passed state abortion bans.1 Target gave at least $13,500 to the same committee.2 Walmart gave a whopping $124,800 to that committee and directly to Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia politicians who pushed for each state’s abortion ban.3

These corporations pride themselves on their “pro-women” policies, but they support politicians who use women’s lives and health as political football. But we can help stop that. More and more companies care about the social and political issues that their consumers advocate for. If enough of us speak out and demand they stop giving to anti-women, anti-abortion politicians , we can make the case that their consumers–and their bottom lines–want them to support reproductive rights and justice.

This Black Friday, will you be one of the hundreds of thousands of petition signers needed for Amazon, Target, and Walmart to stop funding anti-abortion, anti-woman lawmakers?

Tell Amazon, Walmart, Target, and others: Quit lying about your commitment to gender equality. Stop funneling money to anti-abortion, anti-woman lawmakers.

Sign the petition

Amazon likes to brag about its so-called women empowerment programs, like “Amazon Women in Engineering.”4 Target’s CEO accepted an award for gender inclusivity.5 Walmart likes to talk about its “Global Women’s Economic Initiative” to combat gender inequality.6 All of them gave tens of thousand of dollars to lawmakers who push for state abortion bans.

So far this year, nine states have outlawed abortion or banned it after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even realize they’re pregnant.7 The politicians who’ve passed these laws know that they endanger women’s lives and are unconstitutional. These laws are exercises in cruelty and political gamesmanship–and that is the point. They are hoping these abortion bans make it all the way up to the Supreme Court, where there is a conservative majority–including sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh–willing to gut Roe v. Wade and end access to safe abortion care for millions.

These are the same politicians that big corporations like Amazon, Walmart, and Target are giving funding to so that these politicians behave in ways favorable to corporations’ bottom lines.

But those bottom lines depend on consumers, and 56% of consumers say that they would be more likely to buy from a company that publicly supports reproductive rights.8 This Black Friday, let’s start chipping away at the right wing’s well-orchestrated plan to gut abortion rights and build opposition to corporate funding of the anti-abortion lobby.

Will you sign the petition to demand an end to corporate funding of the anti-abortion movement?

Thanks for speaking out!

— Shaunna, Kat, Kathy, Anathea, Melody, Lindsay, Pam, Sonja, Kimberly, Maria, JoEllen, and Sy, the UltraViolet team

Sources:

1. Funding the Bans: A Look at the Major Corporations Financing the Lawmakers Behind State Abortion Bans, Equity Forward, August 2019

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Empowering Women in Tech on International Women’s Day, Amazon Web Services, March 8, 2018

5. Target honored with NEW William J. Grize Award for gender diversity and inclusion, Markets Insider, January 22, 2019

6. Walmart Launches Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, Walmart, September 14, 2011

7. Early Abortion Bans: Which States Have Passed Them?, NPR, June 5, 2019

8. New Research From NARAL And The Harris Poll Suggests Companies Should Stand Up For Women’s Reproductive Freedom, NARAL Pro-Choice America, April 23, 2019

US presidential candidate Buttigieg flip-flops on abortion


So, Joe Biden is not the only ‘centrist‘ United States Democratic party presidential candidate flip-flopping on women’s rights.

This 14 June 2010 video from the USA says about itself:

Buttigieg: Abortion Rights Are “Beyond My Pay Grade

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland breaks down Pete Buttigieg‘s past waffling on the issue of abortion rights.

BUTTIGIEG’S TENSE TOWN HALL Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, faced emotional community members at a town hall while trying to answer questions about a white police officer who fatally shot a black man in the city last week. [HuffPost]

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was exposed as a political hack and apologist for police violence Sunday when he faced jeers from a crowd of angry residents at a town hall meeting in South Bend, Indiana. The meeting was called to address a recent police murder in the working-class city where Buttigieg is mayor. But after leaving the campaign trail in South Carolina, where the Democratic Party had a series of major events for the presidential candidates, Buttigieg could not quell popular anger over the June 16 police shooting of Eric Jack Logan, an African-American father of five, by a white police officer, Sgt. Ryan O’Neill: here.

Buttigieg has been the most aggressive holder of high-dollar fundraisers, attending dozens of such events, particularly in California and the northeast, and raising much of his money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. His poll numbers have not responded in direct proportion to the build-up, however. He regularly appears in fifth place, making him the lowest in the top tier of candidates. And his campaign received a significant blow in mid-June with the killing of a black resident of South Bend by a white cop, which forced Buttigieg to leave the campaign trail briefly to deal with the crisis: here.

ZUCKERBERG ADVISED BUTTIGIEG CAMPAIGN Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, privately recommended a handful of potential staffers to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. Two of them were hired. [HuffPost]

KING HORRIFIES WORLD WITH RAPE AND INCEST REMARK Racist Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said generations of people would not be here without rape and incest while making the case for anti-abortion legislation without exceptions for victims of those crimes. King is a white supremacist who shared his racist views in an interview with The New York Times. [HuffPost]

RAPE VICTIM ACQUITTED OF STILLBORN MURDER A young rape victim who was suspected of having an abortion and charged with homicide has been acquitted by a judge at a retrial. Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez, now 21, had served 33 months of a 30-year prison sentence when her conviction was overturned in February for lack of evidence and a new trial was ordered. [HuffPost]

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN CAN’T GET ABORTIONS Women who are blocked from getting abortions face significant financial distress, including higher amounts of debt and increased rates of bankruptcy and eviction, according to a groundbreaking working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. [HuffPost]

US politician Biden’s flip-flop on abortion


This 6 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

EXCLUSIVE: AOC Blasts Biden On The Hyde Amendment

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland spoke with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the presidential race and the candidate that she may endorse in 2020.

NEW STUDY REVEALS JUST HOW MUCH THE HYDE AMENDMENT IS HURTING WOMEN Over a quarter of low-income women in Louisiana who wanted an abortion didn’t get one because Medicaid didn’t cover the procedure. [HuffPost]

By Rebecca Morin in USA TODAY:

10:11 PM EDT Jun 6, 2019

WASHINGTON – Just a day after facing backlash from fellow Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday reversed his reported position on the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing law that blocks federal funding for abortion in most cases. …

Biden’s reversal comes a day after the former vice president’s campaign reportedly maintained that he still supported the Hyde Amendment.

Since then, Biden’s fellow 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have called for the amendment to be repealed, and have even called out Biden by name.

This 5 June 2019 video from the USA is called Exposing the Racism Hidden in the “Pro-Life” Movement.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Biden drops support for abortion-funding restriction after political firestorm

7 June 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the current leader in the polls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, abruptly reversed himself on Thursday evening, declaring that he would no longer maintain his longstanding support for the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment. This reactionary measure, authored by Republican Congressman Henry Hyde in 1976, remains in force more than four decades later because there has been no significant Democratic Party effort against it.

The Hyde Amendment forbids the use of federal funds to pay for abortion procedures except in cases of rape, incest or serious risk to the mother’s life. In the joint federal-state Medicaid program, 15 states have chosen to cover most abortions anyway, with the state picking up the cost. In the remaining 35 states, the Hyde Amendment effectively bars poor women from receiving Medicaid-paid abortions unless they face one of the traumatic situations listed above.

For decades the Democratic Party made no effort to overturn the Hyde Amendment, bowing to a large anti-abortion wing in the party, particularly among state and federal legislators who, like Biden, are Roman Catholic. In 2007, candidate Barack Obama pledged to repeal Hyde, but two years later, as part of a deal with right-wing Democrats in the House of Representatives to ensure passage of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama issued an executive order stipulating that the Hyde Amendment would apply to women insured through Obamacare.

Only in 2016, some 40 years after the enactment of the Hyde Amendment, did the Democratic Party officially include repeal in its program, but presidential candidate Hillary Clinton never discussed the pledge as part of her campaign for the White House.

The Biden campaign declared on Wednesday that the candidate reiterated his support for the Hyde Amendment, which he voted for repeatedly during a four-decade career in the US Senate. This seemed another effort by Biden to stake out a position on the right wing of the Democratic Party, in the name of appealing to “swing voters” and “moderate” Republicans, while at the same time alienating millions, particularly young people, who firmly support abortion rights and correctly regard the Hyde Amendment as a barbaric relic of a bygone era.

The Biden campaign was clearly aware that it would come under fire from most of the other candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. This was not long in coming, with female senators like Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris first out of the gate, followed by Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and others. Press reports did not cite a single prominent Democrat endorsing Biden’s position.

More significant, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, was the criticism from abortion rights and women’s groups, which expressed shock that the leading Democratic presidential candidate would stab them in the back under conditions of a ferocious attack on abortion rights from the Republican right.

This is taking place both at the federal level, with Trump’s appointment of two ultra-right justices to the Supreme Court, producing what is believed to be a 5-4 majority for drastic inroads into Roe v. Wade, if not outright reversal of the decision; and at the state level, where Republican state legislatures—with Democratic support in some states, like Louisiana—have enacted bills banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, eight weeks, even six weeks, and in the case of Alabama, in all circumstances, without even exceptions for rape or incest.

According to NARAL Pro Choice America, Biden’s position “further endangers women and families already facing enormous hurdles and creates two classes of rights for people in this country, which is inherently undemocratic.” Planned Parenthood executive director Kelley Robinson pleaded, “We strongly encourage Joe Biden to speak to the people whose lives are impacted by this discriminatory policy and reevaluate his position.”

Much of the criticism focused on the blatant class discrimination involved in the Hyde Amendment, since it restricts abortions for poor women but has no effect on those of middle or high income.

With the effective legalization of abortion in all 50 states by the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, poor working-class women were able to gain access to the procedure via Medicaid, the program of government health insurance for the poor, established alongside Medicare in 1965. Medicaid paid for an estimated 300,000 abortions a year, about 15 percent of the national total, before such funding was banned by the Hyde Amendment.

After 24 hours of political battering—including an op-ed column in the Washington Post that declared him “unfit to lead”, given the widespread attacks on abortion rights by Republican state governments—Biden backed down.

The presidential candidate denounced the Hyde Amendment in a speech to a Democratic National Committee fundraising event in Georgia, one of the states where Republican state legislatures have pushed through laws restricting abortion that deliberately flout Roe v. Wade, in an effort to provide a legal vehicle for the Supreme Court to reverse the 1973 ruling.

“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Biden said. He added that he made “no apologies for the past position,” but “circumstances have changed.”

“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to … exercise their constitutionally protected right,” he said, although is precisely the effect that the Hyde Amendment has had throughout the time Biden supported it.

Earlier, in response to the criticism of his position, Biden’s campaign declared that the candidate “firmly believes that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and should not be overturned.” Since similar assurances were given by Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh after Trump nominated them to the Supreme Court, this type of language reassured no one genuinely concerned about the threat to abortion rights.

On the same day that Biden declared his continued support for the Hyde Amendment, the Trump administration issued an executive order ending funding of medical research by federal scientists using fetal tissue and canceling a multi-year contract with the University of California at San Francisco to test potential HIV therapies using such tissues.

The National Institutes of Health supports most fetal tissue research conducted by about 200 corporate, hospital and university laboratories.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the decision was made by Trump personally “to protect the dignity of human life.” Another official said that Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian fundamentalist and anti-abortion fanatic, worked with officials of the Department of Health and Human Services to draft the research ban.

This 6 June 2019 video from the USA is called Biden Casually Embraces Big Money Donors & Corruption.

This 6 June 2019 video from the USA is called Bernie [Sanders] Smacks Down Biden Over Campaign.

CLOCK TICKING ON ANTI-ABORTION DEM Dan Lipinski has been comfortably reelected to his seat in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District for 14 years, and before that, his dad represented the district for 22 years. Both are conservative Democrats. But in recent years, as his party ― and, arguably, his district ― has shifted to the left on cultural issues, Lipinski has not. [HuffPost]

This 3 June 2019 video from the USA is called This author says [Republican judge] Clarence Thomas falsely linked abortion and eugenics by citing his book.

GOP-ER: JAIL WOMEN FOR HAVING ABORTIONS In a video released by an abortion access advocacy group, Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas), said women who induce their own abortions should “of course” be jailed, and said women who have had abortions have “committed murder.” [HuffPost]

WHY IT MATTERS THAT JANE ROE SAYS SHE WAS PAID BY THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT In “AKA Jane Roe,” an FX documentary filmed shortly before her death, Norma McCorvey revealed that she was paid to advocate against abortion. One activist confirmed this; others have denied it. The film might not change minds ― the anti-abortion movement is well-funded and energized by an increasingly religious Republican Party. But it shows the lengths to which anti-abortion groups are willing to go to fight against the right to terminate a pregnancy. Caught in the middle was a woman who grew up poor, survived a physically abusive childhood and later escaped an abusive husband. [HuffPost]

The Trump administration on Wednesday cut off federal funding for medical research using fetal tissue. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the new policy in a six-paragraph statement, but White House spokesman Judd Deere stressed that “This was the president’s decision”: here.

United States women’s rights demonstrators interviewed


United States women's rights demonstrators

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Thousands rally across the US to defend abortion rights

By our reporters

22 May 2019

Thousands of people across the United States took to the streets on Tuesday to participate in protests and rallies in support of abortion rights. The nationwide protest was organized by #StoptheBans, a coalition of 50 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

According to the organizers, there were more than 500 demonstrations, with events in all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and Ottawa, Canada. The number of demonstrations, mobilizing students, workers and youth, reflected the broad popular support for the right of women to choose and in defense of democratic rights more generally. A CBS News poll published Tuesday showed more than two-thirds of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision barring states from outlawing abortion.

President Donald Trump is making opposition to abortion rights a major plank in his reelection campaign and has vowed to secure a reversal of Roe V. Wade. Tuesday’s protests were triggered by a series of newly enacted state laws, including in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, directly challenging that seminal ruling by criminalizing abortion after six or eight weeks of pregnancy and imposing draconian prison sentences on health care professionals who perform the procedure outside of the arbitrary restrictions laid down in the legislation.

Most of these laws define a fertilized egg as a person, potentially making women who have abortions vulnerable to being criminally charged with child abuse, homicide or even murder. The explicit aim of the laws, which are all but certain to be blocked in the courts, is to force the US Supreme Court to reconsider Roe V. Wade. With the addition of two far-right anti-abortion justices appointed by Trump—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—there is good reason to believe that the right-wing majority on the court may be prepared to overturn the 1973 decision.

Part of the demonstration in Manhattan, New York City

Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) attended the rallies and distributed the statement “Mobilize the working class in defense of abortion rights.”

The organizations that sponsored the protests are linked to the Democratic Party, which politically dominated the events. …

But last year, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, declared that abortion rights would not be a “litmus test” for supporting Democrats running in the midterm elections. And the Democratic governor of Louisiana announced last Thursday that he would sign the anti-abortion bill working its way through the state legislature.

New York City

Some 1,000 protesters gathered in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan for a spirited and angry rally. Protesters chanted, “Pro-life is a lie, they don’t care if women die.”

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Will from Queens, an office worker. “I am for a woman’s right to make the decision,” he said. “The government should not be involved, and I am sick of the hypocrisy of the right. They want to control a fetus, but as soon as it grows up to be 18, they ship it off to war.”

A WSWS reporter pointed out that the Democrats shipped young people off to war as well, and Will nodded vigorously. “That’s why I’m a registered independent. The Democratic Party has become corrupted.”

Protestors in New York City

Amanda, a dog-walker who works in Manhattan, is originally from Louisiana. She said: “I’m disgusted by this attack on women and the fact that they want to ruin so many lives. I feel personally offended. I agree with mobilizing the working class. Most of the time it is working class women that suffer from restrictions on abortions.”

Ashley

Ashley, a team leader at an NGO, said, “I am appalled by what is going on in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia. I am also disgusted with the idea that there is no exception for rape or incest. You need to trust women with their own health. We say it is New York, it can’t happen here. But I am not sure about that anymore.

“If it was actually about life it would look a lot different. In our country, we don’t do well for women’s health. I was just reading that Alabama has a high infant mortality rate, and there is a crisis in health care for women across the board.

“I was reading that roughly 70 percent of the population supports a woman’s right to choose. I personally am for Medicare for all. Even if they are not necessarily for that, across the country polls show that most people are concerned about health care. That should be the focus.”

Los Angeles

A rally in Westwood, Los Angeles attracted a large contingent of High School students. One spoke anonymously, saying, “This is a completely unconstitutional ban on reproductive rights and will make abortion inaccessible for the community. It’s going to affect the poor and underprivileged like people of color the most.”

Anna Weiss, a high school student, told the WSWS, “When I saw what happened I got very scared. It was terrifying to me. I was angry, hopeless, and having this rally here really inspired me to go out and show my support.

“This definitely affects working class people the most. If working class women can’t get an abortion, then it’ll be harder for them to finish high school and college and be able to be successful in life.”

Nashville, Tennessee

Some 200 people attended the noon rally at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU spoke, along with women who shared their own stories. No elected officials participated.

Allison and Raeven

“Class is definitely an issue,” said Raeven Offutt, 25. “If abortion rights are taken away, people with money may find a way to have safe abortions, but for the lower class, they won’t have the means to have a safe abortion or to take care of themselves.”

“We have people challenging our safety, our right, what we have access to, and that’s scary. That makes me angry, and that’s what brought me here today,” said Kaycee Whiteside, 25.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Around 2,000 people attended a rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Mario and Erinna came to the rally with their young daughter. Erinna said, “I want there to be the right to an abortion. I think it’s crazy that it’s still something that should be debated.”

The protest on the Diag at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

She responded strongly to the emphasis of our reporters on the question of class. “It’s expensive to get an abortion! It’s thousands of dollars. And what if people need it for medical reasons?”

Mario added, “It’s about the money. We are electing individuals that are funded by the corporations. The US is based on capitalism and money. I agree that we need our own party.”

Mario and Erinna

WSWS campaigners explained that the right to an abortion is fundamentally tied to the fight for socialism and the reorganization of society.

“The economy should be planned scientifically and rationally,” Mario said.

Gina and Andrea are graduates from Eastern Michigan University. “Keep abortion safe and legal,” said Gina. “Otherwise, women will die of unsafe abortions.” Andrea added, “Also, there will be silencing of women who are victims of incest.”

LAWSUIT: ‘CONSCIENCE’ RULE UNDERMINES HEALTH CARE Two dozen U.S. states and municipalities sued the Trump administration to stop it from enforcing a rule that would make it easier for doctors and nurses to avoid performing procedures like abortions, sterilizations and assisted suicide on religious or moral grounds. [Reuters]

NEVADA PASSES PRO-CHOICE ABORTION BILL Bucking the anti-abortion political trends in several other states, the Nevada state Assembly approved a pro-choice bill to remove criminal penalties for people who terminate a pregnancy without consulting a physician. [HuffPost]

ABORTION PROVIDERS FEAR FOR THEIR SAFETY As a re-emboldened anti-abortion movement has emerged, buoyed by recent legislative victories in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah and Arkansas, those who work to protect abortion rights are on high alert for their safety.   [HuffPost]

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, on Thursday signed an abortion ban that would prohibit women from terminating a pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The state House of Representatives passed the ban on Wednesday in a bipartisan vote after the state Senate had approved the bill earlier this month: here.

Joining Wave of GOP Anti-Choice Attacks, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Signs Abortion Ban Authored By Democrat: here.

UN CALLS U.S. ABORTION LAWS ‘TORTURE’ United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights Kate Gilmore said the abortion restrictions recently passed in several U.S. states are a “crisis” akin to “torture.” “This is gender-based violence against women,” she said. [HuffPost]

ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO HALT FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH The Trump administration announced new rules that will sharply reduce and possibly end government funding for studies that use tissue from aborted fetuses. Such research has been instrumental in developing treatments for polio, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and other conditions. [HuffPost]

Alabama, USA government attacks women’s reproductive rights


This 16 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Abortion Ban – What Happens to Unwanted Children When Abortion is Illegal?

What happens to children born because abortion is illegal? Will the new abortion ban leave unwanted children without proper care? A Thom Hartmann listener calls in to tell her story of going through life feeling like she was an unwanted child. Should anyone have to go through this?

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Alabama abortion ban: Back to barbarism

16 May 2019

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law Wednesday afternoon the most stringent ban on abortion in any state, criminalizing the medical procedure except in cases where the life or health of the mother is in serious danger. An amendment to permit abortion in cases of rape and incest was removed from the bill when it reached the floor of the state Senate on May 9.

The new law imposes a prison term of up to 99 years for any doctor who performs an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman. There is a ten-year term for attempting to perform an abortion. While women who receive an abortion are not explicitly criminalized, the law establishes “personhood” for a fetus from the moment of conception. This opens the door for criminal prosecution for child abuse of pregnant women for any conduct deemed to be potentially damaging to the fetus.

Republican legislators in the state House and state Senate decided to enact the most extreme anti-abortion bill in order to give the US Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which threw out state laws criminalizing abortion. Rep. Terri Collins, the sponsor of the bill, was quite explicit that the ban on abortion for victims of rape and incest was necessary in order to assert, in the face of expected legal challenges in the federal courts, the principle that a fetus is a living person from the moment of conception, with full constitutional rights.

The Alabama law is an outrageous act of medieval barbarism. Its consequences, should it eventually be upheld by the courts, would be to force women seeking abortion in Alabama into back-alley procedures at greatly increased risk of death or mutilation. This danger will face working class women especially, since wealthier women will be able to travel to other states to have the procedure. This is in a state so impoverished and with such a deficient social infrastructure that more than half of its counties have no obstetricians.

The law is unconstitutional, not merely because it directly contradicts the Roe v. Wade precedent, but because it represents the elevation of a religious doctrine to state policy in violation of the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion. Alabama legislators were quite explicit about the religious motivation for the law.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, a sponsor of the bill, argued against exceptions for rape and incest, declaring, “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life.” The House sponsor, Terri Collins, said the bill was the outcome of “prayer”. This directly contradicts the First Amendment, which bans translating into law—imposed on all citizens—the religious prejudices of fundamentalist Protestants or the corrupt Roman Catholic hierarchy.

There is every reason to believe that the five-member ultra-right majority on the US Supreme Court is looking for an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, despite the perfunctory statements made by four of the five during their confirmation hearings that Roe was a settled precedent. Significantly, the high court on Monday went out of its way to overturn a 40-year-old precedent dealing with an obscure issue of state sovereignty, namely, whether states have sovereign immunity from lawsuits by residents of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent said that the five-member right-wing majority was setting a precedent for overturning well-established precedents and warned, “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” The unstated reference to the 46-year-old Roe v. Wade decision was understood by all court observers.

There are a multitude of abortion rights cases now in the federal courts, triggered by a wave of restrictive legislation enacted by Republican-controlled state legislatures, mainly in the period since Trump entered the White House and appointed two ferociously anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, which did not shift the balance on the court on the issue, but Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy, who had been the swing vote on numerous abortion rights cases and co-wrote the current controlling decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which represented a restriction on abortion rights but left Roe v. Wade basically intact.

Just since January, four states—Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio—have enacted “fetal heartbeat” laws that ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. The sole purpose of these laws is to block the vast majority of abortions, since few women are even certain they are pregnant only six weeks after conception.

One law, introduced in Texas but not yet enacted, goes even further: it would remove the exemption of abortion from the state definition of homicide, making every woman who receives an abortion potentially a candidate for Death Row.

These are not merely state decisions. They have national implications. It cannot be ruled out that state laws criminalizing abortion within a state will be interpreted to criminalize the conduct of a woman who travels outside the state to obtain an abortion, as well as the actions of those who help her. This is the barbaric logic of the position that “abortion is murder.”

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that the Supreme Court majority will not go beyond merely reversing Roe v. Wade, which would leave abortion policy to the states. Also possible is a sort of Dred Scott decision in the sphere of women’s rights, requiring states that recognize abortion rights to enforce the prohibitions enacted by anti-abortion states, just as Trump is seeking to compel “sanctuary cities” to enforce the most draconian attacks on immigrants and refugees.

Beyond the legal counterrevolution against Roe is the implacable withdrawal of social support for women seeking an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 90 percent of all US counties have no abortion provider. In seven American states, there is only a single abortion provider in the entire state. Alabama has only three. Even a large, densely populated Midwest state like Ohio has only 10, down from 45 in 1992. Twenty-seven large American cities have no abortion provider.

And abortions are not covered under Medicaid or Obamacare—because of continuous capitulations by the Democrats on this issue. The result is that for much of the United States, working class women have already been deprived of the right to abortion. They cannot fly to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Over decades in which the right to abortion has been largely eviscerated, the Democratic Party, always cowering before the Christian right, has done little to defend it.

Nancy Pelosi tweeted this week against “this relentless and cruel Republican assault on women’s health.” But during the 2018 campaign she declared that defense of the right to an abortion was not a “litmus test” and insisted on backing Democrats in some congressional districts who held equally “cruel” views.

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and other presidential candidates also condemned the decision. But none of them have made the defense of abortion rights, particularly in the South and in rural areas, a major feature of their campaigns. This is despite Trump’s repeated declarations that he intends to make the overturn of Roe v. Wade a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

Now the incessant talk of “empowering” women—which means, of course, bourgeois women—runs into the embarrassing spectacle of Alabama’s first female governor, once hailed as a moderating influence on the Republican Party, signing into law the most restrictive anti-woman legislation in recent American history.

The reality is that abortion is a democratic right that is of particular importance to the working class. It is working class women who must make difficult decisions about how and when to have children. They face the greatest danger of becoming pregnant through rape or some other form of abuse. The class divide in American society applies just as forcefully in that sphere as in any other.

Abortion rights … can be defended only through the struggle, led by the working class, against the capitalist system and all of its political representatives.

I’m From Alabama And Gave Birth To My Rapist’s Child Because I Couldn’t Get An Abortion: here.

WAVE OF PROTESTS PLANNED OVER ABORTION BANS Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women’s March, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other groups are organizing nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday to protest the wave of new state laws restricting abortion. [HuffPost]

MISSOURI LAWMAKER BACKPEDALS ON ‘CONSENSUAL RAPE’ CLAIM A Missouri Republican who referenced “consensual rapes” during a debate over his state’s proposed eight-week abortion ban has walked back the remark, reportedly claiming he misspoke. [HuffPost]

Protests erupt across US over barbaric anti-abortion ban in Alabama: here.

Lawyers for the young Alabama woman who was five months pregnant and is facing a manslaughter charge after she was the victim of a shooting that led to a miscarriage filed a motion in Jefferson County Circuit Court this week to have all charges dismissed. The attempted prosecution of 27-year-old Marshae Jones is part of the escalating effort to reverse the 1973 US Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion by granting full legal rights to the human fetus. It is also bound up with a law-and-order frenzy that criminalizes the poor: here.

ABORTION ‘GAG RULE’ EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately, the Trump administration said, declaring it will begin enforcing a new regulation hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups. [AP]

‘Pro-life’ racists insult Native American Vietnam veteran


This 19 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

WATCH: MAGA Hat-Wearing Students TAUNT Elder Native American Vietnam Veteran

Kentucky Catholic High School Plans to Investigate After MAGA Hat-Wearing Students Taunt Native American Elder

The students were in Washington to attend the March for Life.

The self-styled ‘March for Life’ is a religious fundamentalist right-wing march against women’s rights, especially against women’s reproductive rights, eg on abortion. These religious misogynists call themselves ‘pro-life’. Which is hypocritical, as they are usually pro-Pentagon wars all over the world. And usually pro-the racist death penalty. And often for other forms of racism, as these Kentucky far-right Roman Catholics show by insulting Native Americans.

Nathan Phillips, a member of the Omaha nation and a Vietnam War veteran who was attending the Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington D.C. on the same day, was targeted by the teens. At one point in the video that quickly spread on social media and sparked outrage, one youth is seen staring him down. According to Phillips, the teens also chanted, “Build that wall!”

This 19 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The next generation of MAGA hat-wearing bigots besiege Indigenous Peoples’ March

A series of videos have surfaced online reportedly showing students from Covington Catholic High School confronting members of the Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington D.C. on Friday.

The videos show members of the Indigenous Peoples’ March, one playing a hand drum, surrounded by others wearing Make America Great Again hats and clothing which connect them to the Tri-State. A few people can be seen wearing Covington Catholic spirit wear and some others can be seen wearing Cincinnati Bengals clothing.

It’s even worse when you see the full mob effect.

“We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place,” Laura Keener, the communications director of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, said. “We are looking into it.” The website for Covington Catholic shows on their calendar they are in Washington D.C. for the March for Life. The videos have garnered national attention, and many people, including Rep. Debra Haaland from New Mexico, have condemned the actions of the people involved.

The veteran Haaland mentions is the man playing the hand drum. His name is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder who, according to Indian Country Today, is a Vietnam veteran and former director of the Native Youth Alliance. Since these videos have gone online, the social media pages for Covington Catholic, and some Covington Catholic faculty members, have been set to private.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The students were at a major annual anti-abortion demonstration in Washington on Friday. At the same time, there was a demonstration by Indians on their March of the Indigenous Peoples.

One of the Catholic boys stands right in front of a tribal elder, who is busy with a ceremony for Vietnam veterans of native ancestry. The boy stays close to him for minutes and stares him down, as can be seen on the images.

Upset

That man is 64-year-old Nathan Phillips, a well-known activist [eg, against the Standing Rock pipeline] and also a Vietnam veteran. The two are surrounded by other students of the Covington Catholic High School who ridicule the singing Phillips, make images of the incident and “Build that wall, build that wall”, referring to the wall that President Trump wants to build on the border between the USA and Mexico.

Phillips reacts in a video on Instagram. He says in tears, “When I was singing, I heard them say” Build that wall. “That’s our country, there’s no walls there, that’s never happened, I wish those young men would spend their energy to really make this country big by helping those who are starving. ” …

Indians also see the incident as symbolic of the discrimination they often encounter.

This 19 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

A Jesuit priest just broke the internet responding to MAGA teens harassing Native American vet

The nation was stunned today by the viral footage of teenagers from an all-male Catholic prep school harassing an elderly Native American [Vietnam war] veteran, Nathan Phillips, screaming “BUILD THAT WALL” and other racist trash at him while they proudly showed off their MAGA hats.

This 19 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Nathan Philips of the Omaha Nation served in Vietnam, was harassed by Trumpster Prep students. Listen to this man. Please amplify his voice above the hate many white children are learning from Donald Trump.

See also here.

TRUMP TO ATTEND ANTI-ABORTION MARCH Trump said he would become the first U.S. leader to attend the March for Life, one of the nation’s largest anti-abortion protests, in person later this week.The announcement came the same day the Senate began hearing opening arguments in the president’s impeachment trial. [HuffPost]

Facebook outsources censorship to far right


This video from the USA says about itself:

Facebook ‘Fact Checkers’ Include Science Denying Right-Wing Propagandists

14 September 2018

From the United States liberal site Media Matters for America:

Facebook is fueling far-right extremism — and profiting off of it

September 4, 2018 5:13 PM EDT

NATALIE MARTINEZ

Over the past month, Facebook has drawn international attention for its slow response to hate speech and fake news that helped fuel the genocide of the ethno-religious Rohingya minority in Myanmar; for the correlation found in Germany between Facebook usage and hate crimes against refugees; and for the fake news that has gone viral on the Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp and led to deadly attacks in India.

But, in the U.S., the criticisms of the social media giant that have dominated media coverage have dealt with baseless claims of censorship targeting conservatives.

On Monday, a ThinkProgress article posted on Facebook was labeled as “false” by right-wing magazine the Weekly Standard, a third-party “fact checker” for Facebook, and effectively censored on the site. The Weekly Standard, dubbed a ‘redoubt of neoconservatism’ and as ‘the neo-con bible’, is one of only five organizations approved as fact-checkers by Facebook: here.

From United States liberal site Thinkprogress, 11 September 2018:

Facebook’s idea of ‘fact-checking’: Censoring ThinkProgress because conservative site told them to

A perfect example of how Facebook is catering to conservatives.

Ian Millhiser

Last year, Facebook announced that it would partner with The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, to “fact check” news articles that are shared on Facebook. At the time, ThinkProgress expressed alarm at this decision.

The Weekly Standard has a history of placing right-wing ideology before accurate reporting. Among other things, it labeled the Iraq WarA War to Be Proud Of” in 2005, and it ran an article in 2017 labeling climate science “Dadaist Science,” and promoted that article with the phrase “look under the hood on climate change ‘science’ and what you see isn’t pretty.”

The Weekly Standard brought its third-party “fact-checking” power to bear against ThinkProgress on Monday, when the outlet determined a ThinkProgress story about [Donald Trump’s] Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was “false”, a category defined by Facebook to indicate “the primary claim(s) in this content are factually inaccurate.”

The article in question, which this reporter wrote, pointed out that, when you read a statement Kavanaugh made during his confirmation hearing alongside a statement he made in 2017, it becomes clear he is communicating that he opposes Roe v. Wade. Our article is factually accurate and The Weekly Standard’s allegation against us is wrong.

There are serious consequences for publishing an article that one of Facebook’s third-party fact checkers decrees to be false.

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote in the Washington Post, “we demote posts rated as false, which means they lose 80 percent of future traffic.”

When an article is labeled false under Facebook’s third-party fact-checking system, groups that share that article on Facebook receive a notification informing them that the article received a “False Rating” and that “pages and websites” that share that piece “will see their overall distribution and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.”

Facebook’s notification regarding our piece on Kavanaugh and Roe v. Wade effectively warned outlets not to share ThinkProgress content or risk censorship themselves. One group emailed ThinkProgress after receiving this notification to say they found it “threatening.”

ThinkProgress reached out to Facebook for comment on its third-party fact checking program and did not receive a response before this story was published.

The definition of the word “say”

After Facebook sent the push notification stating that our article received a “False Rating”, ThinkProgress reached out to Facebook taking issue with the fact check. A Facebook employee responded by email that Facebook defers to each independent fact-checker’s process and publishers are responsible for reaching out to the fact-checkers directly to request a correction.

The editors at The Weekly Standard do not appear to be interested in correcting their “fact check”.

The Weekly Standard’s fact-check appears to hinge on the definition of the word “said.”

Kavanaugh cited in his confirmation hearing the “Glucksberg test” — which refers to Washington v. Glucksberg, a 1997 Supreme Court decision establishing that the Constitution does not protect a right to physician-assisted suicide. Under Glucksberg, courts should determine which rights are protected by the Constitution by asking which rights are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Kavanaugh also said in 2017 that “even a first-year law student could tell you that the Glucksberg’s approach to unenumerated rights was not consistent with the approach of the abortion cases such as Roe vs. Wade in 1973, as well as the 1992 decision reaffirming Roe, known as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.”

Our article also cited law professors Jim Oleske and Jamal Greene, both of whom reached similar conclusions regarding Kavanaugh’s embrace of Glucksberg.

The Weekly Standard’s piece labeling this piece “false” provides no analysis of this argument. It merely asserts that our “article does not provide evidence that ‘Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade.’”

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the verb “say” or “said” can mean to “indicate,” “show,” or “communicate” an idea. Our argument is that Kavanuagh indicated, showed, or communicated his intention to overrule Roe when he endorsed the Gluckberg test after saying that Gluckberg is inconsistent with Roe.

Pandering to the right

The Weekly Standard is one of only five outlets that enjoys the power to “fact check” other people’s work on Facebook. The other four are the Associated Press and three outlets that specialize in fact-checking — Factcheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes.com. No left-leaning outlet has this special ability to “fact check” other writers’ work.

To become a Facebook “fact checker,” an outlet must complete a verification process managed by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute.

Last November, IFCN determined that The Weekly Standard was only in “partial” compliance with its standards. Though the IFCN’s November report on The Weekly Standard indicated that the conservative news site eventually was likely to meet the IFCN’s standards, it also determined that “the current version of” the Weekly Standard’s operation “has existed for only three weeks, and the IFCN calls for three months of consistent fact-checking before it is recognized as a distinct unit.”

“The Fact Check needs to build up a larger sample of work in order to stabilize and be fully assessed in its current form,” according to IFCN’s November report.

Nevertheless, Facebook approved The Weekly Standard as one of its “fact-checking” partners in early December.

It appears that the Weekly Standard was added to Facebook’s roster of “fact-checking” outlets as part of a deliberate effort to pander to conservatives. A source told the news outlet Quartz that Facebook’s partnership with The Weekly Standard was part of an effort to “appease all sides.”

Earlier this year, Facebook also hired Republican Sen. John Kyl of Arizona to lead an “audit” of alleged “liberal bias at the expense of conservative voices” at the social media juggernaut. Kyl, according to Vice, “was regularly ranked among the country’s most conservative senators when he served from 1995 to 2013.” He was recently appointed to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) term in office.

Shortly after Facebook hired Kyl to determine whether the site has a liberal bias, the Trump White House tapped Kyl to act as Judge Kavanaugh’s “sherpa” through his confirmation process.

There’s much more at stake

If Facebook continues its partnership with The Weekly Standard, the consequences could be quite severe for left-leaning outlets generally — or potentially for any other outlet which publishes a news article that The Weekly Standard disagrees with.

It’s no secret that the digital news business is driven by clicks. A news site that brings in many readers will also bring in a great deal of ad revenue, and this money can be used to hire reporters and to continue the outlet’s work. An outlet that loses a significant portion of its readership may have to lay off reporters or could even go under.

At its peak, Facebook provided as much as 40 percent of ThinkProgress’ traffic. Facebook recently changed its algorithm in ways that reduced the amount of traffic it sent to most news outlets, but it still accounts for between 10 to 15 percent of our readers. The difference between keeping those readers and losing them could decide whether we can hire more reporters who will continue to report on subjects that the Weekly Standard may have ideological disagreements about.

Yet, as Facebook’s push notification makes clear, any group that shares a piece that The Weekly Standard deems false could be punished for doing so.

News outlets aren’t the only players at risk under this system. As a legal matter, Facebook is treading on very dangerous ground by providing no oversight of its own “fact checking” operation.

In its landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court held that an outlet can be liable for defamation if it publishes false information “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

By deferring to The Weekly Standard’s “expertise and process”, Facebook acted with reckless disregard of whether The Weekly Standard’s article was false or not.

Indeed, Facebook’s entire relationship with The Weekly Standard appears driven by reckless disregard for the truth.

KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: I THOUGHT HE MIGHT KILL ME The woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to sexually assault her in a confidential letter to members of Congress has come forward. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, told The Washington Post that she had feared Kavanaugh “might inadvertently kill” her as he held her down and groped her while they were both high school students around 1982. [HuffPost]

GOP SENATOR: DELAY SCOTUS VOTE Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is the first Republican on the Senate judiciary committee to suggest the panel delay moving forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, amid the sexual assault allegations. GOP moderate Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) later told CNN she was open to the idea of a delay. [HuffPost]

Abortion, Irish referendum victory, United States problems


This video says about itself:

Ireland votes to lift abortion ban in landslide referendum | ITV News

26 May 2018

‘Yes’ campaigners celebrated a “resounding” victory as Ireland voted overwhelmingly to change its restrictive laws on abortion.

As voters chose to repeal the Eighth Amendment, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that a “quiet revolution” had taken place.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The abortion vote in Ireland: A blow against reaction

29 May 2018

The overwhelming “Yes” vote in the Irish referendum on abortion rights, by a margin of 1,429,981 votes for and 723,632 votes against, is a landmark victory both for the Irish working class and for the defense of democratic rights internationally. In a country that for centuries has been synonymous with domination by the medieval backwardness of the Roman Catholic Church, where as recently as 20 years ago both contraception and divorce were illegal, two-thirds of those voting in a heavy turnout supported the legalization of abortion. It is a demonstration that, while the official parties of bourgeois Europe are all moving to the right, the working class and sections of the middle class are moving to the left.

Last Friday’s vote is an exact reversal of the 1983 referendum which enacted the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, formally prohibiting abortion by giving the unborn fetus legal rights equal to those of a pregnant woman. That referendum, backed by the Catholic hierarchy and Ireland’s major parties, passed by a two-to-one margin. The referendum to repeal the Eight Amendment was opposed by the hierarchy, but the bishops avoided a prominent public role because of a series of major scandals that have shattered the Church’s claims to infallibility and moral superiority, involving sexual abuse by priests, enslavement of women in convent enterprises, and the discovery of a mass grave of at least 800 children born “out of wedlock” over many decades in rural Tuam, dumped in the septic tank of a Catholic home for unwed mothers.

The main … parties—Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour and Sinn Fein—all officially endorsed a “yes” vote, although the two largest, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, were deeply split. In any case, as observers noted, these parties were not leading the campaign to legalize abortion, they were trailing behind a popular movement that was manifested in a major influx of new voters, the Internet-based crowd-funding of the “yes” campaign, and enthusiastic participation among youth, and particularly young women.

Vote tabulations found that only one district out of 40, Donegal, on the border with Northern Ireland, reported a majority “no” vote, and that by a narrow margin. Even the most rural and conservative areas, such as Roscommon and Mayo, posted majorities for “yes”. Exit polls revealed that support for abortion rights won a majority among every age group except those over 65 (with 80 percent or more among young people voting “yes”), and among urban, suburban and rural voters. Irish farmers voted by 52.5 percent to defy the Catholic Church, which had branded every “yes” vote a sin requiring confession and repentance.

There are both short-term and long-term social factors at work in the shift in public opinion in Ireland. As one Irish commentator noted, the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment was spearheaded by the youth: “this campaign has been largely won by a generation that had good reason to give up on Ireland. It is the generation of 2008, the generation that was handed a massive bank debt, that was told there were no jobs, that had its wages and welfare payments cut, that was informed, in so many words, that it would be greatly appreciated if it would kindly remove itself to somewhere else.”

Real wages plummeted after the 2008 financial crash, which put an end to widespread illusions in Ireland as the “Celtic Tiger”, but have recovered somewhat since 2012. Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued its relentless rise. Dublin, which accounts for one quarter of the country’s population, is now a more expensive place to live than London. Economic inequality in Ireland, as in all the major capitalist countries, has risen to previously unheard-of levels. Not since Anglo-Irish landlords feasted while their peasant tenants starved during the Great Famine of 1847–48 has the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population been so vast.

But there is another social transformation, of a longer-term and more profound character, that is manifested in the Irish vote. Once a country consisting overwhelmingly of poor farmers, usually tenants at the mercy of the landlord and priest, Ireland has undergone an industrial development and economic modernization over the past half century. In 1960, only 46 percent of Ireland’s 2.8 million population lived in urban areas, while 54 percent were rural. In 2018, 67 percent of Ireland’s 4.8 million population lives in urban areas, with only 33 percent rural. The transformation in raw numbers is even more remarkable: Ireland’s urban population has risen 150 percent, from 1,288,000 in 1960 to 3,216,000; the rural population has risen by only 11 percent over the same period, from 1,512,000 to 1,684,000.

What the influx of capital investment in factories, offices and research centers means in class terms is unmistakable: the urban working class, once a relatively small minority in Ireland, albeit with a remarkable revolutionary history, is now the largest social force in the country; the rural tenantry and farmers, long dominated by the Catholic Church, have become a minority. And it is the working class, of all classes in modern capitalist society, which is the bedrock for the defense of democratic rights.

Over the past quarter century, in a series of referendums that have allowed the people to override the bourgeois parties that kowtow to the Church, Ireland has legalized contraception, divorce, gay marriage and now abortion. As the New York Times noted Monday, “The culture of silence and deference to religious authority that long dominated Ireland is gone.”

It is instructive to contrast the advances in democratic rights recorded in what was once the most backward country in western Europe, with the frontal assault on those rights in the United States, the richest and most powerful capitalist country in the world. Once legislation is enacted by the Irish parliament—already presented in draft form before the referendum—women in small towns and rural areas of Ireland will have greater access to reproductive health care, including abortion, than their counterparts in similar areas of the United States.

In 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute, there was no abortion provider in 90 percent of US counties, accounting for 39 percent of the women of reproductive age. This included 99 percent of counties in Missouri, 98 percent in the Dakotas and Kentucky, 97 percent in Arkansas, and 96 percent in Wisconsin. One-quarter of women who needed abortion services had to travel at least 25 miles to find a clinic. In parts of Texas and the Great Plains, the distance to be traveled comes to hundreds of miles each way.

The right to abortion is being destroyed by stealth, through a combination of state harassment of clinics, such as requirements that they be affiliated to hospitals (even when the only local hospital is Catholic), and obstacles placed in the way of women, such as the requirement of multiple visits to receive “counseling” before they obtain the procedure. Heavy pressure has been placed on insurance companies, most recently by the Trump administration, not to cover abortion services in any government-linked insurance plan, such as Obamacare. Medicaid will not pay for the procedure, and funding for the largest provider of abortion services, Planned Parenthood, is under systematic attack.

This assault on democratic rights affects primarily women of the working class. Women of higher income and social position have no problem obtaining abortion and other reproductive health services when they need them. …

This [United States corporate media] indifference carries over to the media coverage of the Irish referendum. It has dropped from the newspaper headlines after one day. It barely registered in the network news broadcasts. The World Socialist Web Site sees this issue differently. We hail the actions of the Irish people, who have dealt a blow to reaction. This vote reinforces our conviction that the defense of democratic rights, and of all progressive developments in modern society, requires the mobilization of the strength of the working class as an independent political force.

Women march for access to safe abortions in Argentina: here.

A new report cites the devastating impact of the Trump administration’s “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” policy. In January 2017 Trump instituted his version of the so-called Mexico City Policy, otherwise known by its critics as the “global gag rule,” or GGR, which essentially blocks US federal funding for international organizations that provide counseling, referrals or services for abortion in low-income nations. The report, “Prescribing Chaos in Global Health: The Global Gag Rule from 1984-2018 ,” was released Tuesday by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). CHANGE President Serra Sippel wrote in a letter accompanying the report that Trump’s expanded policy “has had immediate, direct, and potentially devastating ramifications, not only for women’s health, but for all health services for women, men and children”: here.

Irish women’s rights referendum victory


Irish trade union pro-women's rights banner, photo by Peter Taal/NOS

This photo shows an Irish trade union pro-women’s rights banner. Today, campaigns like this turned out to have won in Ireland.

For decades, the Roman Catholic church, especially the most right-wing tendencies of its hierarchy, was very powerful in Ireland.

That led to the most restrictive anti-abortion law in Europe. It led to scandals. Like forced labour by young women, the ‘Magdalene sisters‘ scandal. Like massive sexual abuse of children by priests, covered up by bishops and by the Vatican. Like mass graves where bodies of children, killed by ill-treatment at religious institutions, were dumped into.

When scandals like that became public, the grip of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the Irish people weakened.

That showed in the results of two referendums. In 2015, a clear majority of Irish voters voted for equal marriage, including for LGBTQ people. This in spite of well-financed homophobic campaigns by the Catholic hierarchy and rich homophobes from the USA and other countries.

And today, the results of another referendum became known. 66%, a big majority, of Irish voters all over the country voted for abolishing the harsh anti-abortion law. Only in one county, Donegal, there was a wafer thin anti-women’s rights majority. This victory came in spite of well-financed misogynist campaigns by the Catholic hierarchy and rich anti-women people from the USA and other countries.

This 26 May 2018 video is called Referendum overturns Ireland’s abortion ban.

Powerful right-wing people usually hate referendums, now that they lose them, even in traditionally conservative Ireland. That’s why the present right-wing Dutch government wants to abolish referendums: they lose them again and again and again.

German doctor convicted by nazi era anti-abortion law


Kristina Hänel and her information leaflet, NOS photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Giving information about abortion in Germany: 6000 euro fine

In an open letter to the German government, doctors, lawyers and trade unions demand an end to a controversial anti-abortion law. Since 1933, since the Nazi time, it is illegal for our eastern neighbours that doctors give public information about abortion. That is seen as ‘advertising’. Even indicating that you do it as a doctor is punishable. This has major consequences for doctors and for women who want an abortion.

Kristina Hänel found that out as well. She is a GP and has specialized as an abortion doctor in the Netherlands. She put a brochure of three pages on her website, in which she informs patients about the process ….

In Germany, various anti-abortion groups are active that monitor all websites of all doctors. They filed a complaint against Hänel. “The judge found that I gave factual information, but according to the law it had to be classified as advertising, and I was sentenced to a 6,000 euro fine.”

She is not the only one. Every year 25 to 30 doctors in Germany are convicted for violating paragraph 219a of the German Penal Code.

The law in question was introduced by the Nazis in 1933. According to Hänel they wanted to make it impossible for Jewish doctors to work because they performed abortions more often than Christian colleagues.

After the war, the Allies retained the law because they could not discover a specific Nazi ideology in it. In many countries, abortion was completely banned at the time, and an advertising ban on something that was forbidden was in their view not illogical.

And although abortion in Germany is now regulated by law, it remains impossible to inform women about it in public. “I think that is absurd and not of this time anymore”, says Hänel.

‘Advisory service’

The effect of the law is also that women can hardly find the addresses of doctors who perform abortions. In theory, they should receive it from the “maternity counseling service”, where you are obliged to go if you want an abortion.

In some regions, the Catholic Church controls that service, and it simply refuses to tell which doctor can perform the operation. Some GPs also refuse to tell it on principle.

The only German website that lists all abortion doctors is a hate site of an anti-abortion activist: Babykaust.de. There, abortion is compared with the Holocaust. The addresses can be found between bloody images of fetuses.

“I think that’s terrible for women”, says Hänel. Since she is mentioned on that site with name and address (“I am a VIP there”), she is also threatened with death.

End prohibition

A majority of German parties want to delete the notorious paragraph from German law, but Merkel‘s combination of CDU and CSU parties prevents that. Certainly the CSU is taking a very conservative course this year, because the party wants to win the elections in its own federal state of Bavaria [where they are trying to outflank the neofascist AfD party on the right].

Government coalition junior partner the SPD has given Merkel until the autumn to make a change, otherwise they themselves will put it on the agenda. They could cause a crisis in the government coalition. But many Germans wonder if the party will dare to do that. Hänel also: “I have yet to see it”.

She laughs and says that she will keep up her fight anyway. “I am a marathon runner, so I have a long breath, I do not give up.”

See also here.