On Aug. 25, a coalition of human rights and activist organizations, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation Los Angeles, held a rally and speak-out for Women’s Equality Day, in MacArthur Park in central Los Angeles.
Participants in the rally included #MeToo Survivors March, March and Rally Los Angeles, Gabriela Los Angeles, Anticonquista, the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, Los Angeles Green Party and the Anticapitalist Feminist Coalition.
The rally commemorated and celebrated the historic struggle for women’s liberation in the United States and around the world, and highlighted issues facing women and all oppressed people today.
“Almost 100 years ago, women waged a fierce struggle that granted them the right to vote. Fifty years later, we won Roe V. Wade, establishing a woman’s right to an abortion. We also know all too well that the fighting doesn’t stop because we won those rights,” said PSL member Sheila Xiao.
Since Trump’s election, there has been a nonstop assault on the gains won by women over the past century. Since the beginning of 2019, abortion bans have been passed in six states. Thirty-eight states have granted some form of personhood to a fetus, without any regard to the mother. “The campaign against access to abortion over the last two decades has shifted to an outright campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Xiao added.
Megan Foronda from Gabriela Los Angeles, an anti-imperialist Filipino women’s organization, gave a powerful speech highlighting how women’s access to health care and social services has suffered tremendously under the current administration. The Trump administration has directed funds from these essential services towards increasing the defense budget, which supports fascist dictators around the world, such as the Philippines’ President Duterte, whose so-called “War on Drugs” has killed over 30,000 mostly poor people, including Myka, a 3-year-old girl killed last month by the police.
These attacks represent not only violence perpetrated against women but violence against “the poorest of the poor, violence against working women and their families,” Foronda said.
After the rally, a small march headed to a “crisis pregnancy center” near MacArthur Park, which at first glance appears to be a typical health clinic that caters to women who face unexpected pregnancies.
These clinics are actually anti-abortion centers, often found near abortion clinics, or in locations with no abortions services at all. They typically advertise free pregnancy tests, sonograms, peer counseling, and maternity and infant supplies. They often give false information regarding abortions and pregnancy in an effort to pressure women into rejecting abortion and giving birth. They have been accused of spreading false information that commonly used birth control devices do not work.
These centers are part of a larger assault on reproductive rights, funded by rich donors and organizations who pay Internet search engines top dollar to appear when people search “abortion” or “family planning services.”
They do not refer seekers to abortion providers, may not give them their pregnancy test results, or will delay releasing them. They do not provide complete information about clients’ real options.
Under California law, women have the right to get an abortion, for any reason, within six months after becoming pregnant, and the right to keep an abortion confidential.
“Ninety percent of U.S. counties don’t have an abortion clinic, and it really speaks to what’s happening. People don’t realize how restricted we are already, and it mostly effects working-class neighborhoods like MacArthur Park, and mostly women of color, who don’t have that access,” said organizer Esmeralda Loreto of the PSL.
Caro Gómez, another organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, emphasized the importance of maintaining a militant workers’ struggle by going into the streets and speaking with ordinary folks about the contradictions within society when it comes to the struggles of oppressed groups like women and LGBTQ folks. “We have to show that we’re not afraid to stand up, and we should utilize our ability to speak out,” Gómez remarked in front of the crisis pregnancy center.
Rallies and speak-outs such as these are one of the many ways to build a people’s struggle and revolutionary-socialist movement within the U.S. and around the world that addresses the injustices faced by women and LGBTQ folks. It is only through a struggle for socialism that it will be possible to overcome the inherent contradictions of capitalism, whose priority is not women’s liberation but rather subjugation.