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Workers Vanguard No. 968

5 November 2010

Birth Control, Abortion Rights and Women’s Oppression

Fifty Years After the Pill: Still a Long Way to Go

For Women's Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!

(Women and Revolution pages)

“You’ve come a long way, baby,” crooned the old Virginia Slims commercials on TV in the late 1960s, and the bourgeois media has picked up the tune again on this, the fiftieth anniversary of the Pill (no further definition necessary—everyone knows you are talking about s-e-x). And everyone knows the Pill is all about sex. When in 1975 Loretta Lynn sang, “I’m tearin’ down your brooder house ’cause now I’ve got the pill,” the hearts of millions of women across America beat in time to the rhythm of her song, which dozens of radio stations tried to censor—until it made the hit charts.

The Pill was the first reliable contraceptive that gave women control over their own reproduction. This tremendous medical advance enabled women to separate sexual enjoyment from fear of pregnancy, freeing them from the now excessive fertility with which evolution has endowed our species. But birth control and abortion remain restricted throughout the capitalist world by the state, by the institution of the family, and by organized religion, which all serve to enforce women’s oppression. As long as the capitalist order exists, the benefits of science will be limited by the exploitation and oppression of this class system. Marxists look forward to the day when science can be “applied with full understanding to all the fields of human activity,” to quote the words of German socialist leader August Bebel, whose 1879 work Woman and Socialism was one of the first major Marxist works on the woman question.

Leon Trotsky, co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the 1917 October Revolution, underlined that birth control and abortion are among woman’s “most important civil, political and cultural rights” (The Revolution Betrayed [1936]). We fight for women’s liberation through socialist revolution. We call for free abortion on demand as part of free, quality health care for all and for free, 24-hour childcare to address the deep class and racial oppression of poor and minority women. The wealthy will always get their medical care, including their abortions, while myriad anti-abortion laws and restrictions on birth control target young, working-class and poor women, who can’t afford quality health care, childcare and housing.

At the time of its first release by the pharmaceutical company Searle, big predictions were made about the effect that the Pill would have on society. Moral bigots wailed that it would promote female promiscuity and the decline of religion and the patriarchal family, while birth control advocates believed it would save the family, create happy marriages and end the world population explosion. The Pill was even hailed as the solution to the “Red Menace.” In her book America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation (Basic Books, 2010), historian Elaine May speaks of how some Cold Warriors believed that the Pill “would alleviate the conditions of poverty and unrest that might lead developing nations to embrace communism, and instead promote the growth of markets for consumer goods and the embrace of capitalism.”

In fact, the “sexual revolution” that is often credited to the Pill was the result, in one way or another, of the convulsive social struggles of the civil rights movement, which broke the back of Jim Crow segregation in the South, and of opposition to U.S. imperialism’s war against the Vietnamese Revolution. The major social upheavals of the 1960s that broke up the reactionary Cold War consensus also led to substantial advances in access to higher education and professional jobs for women. At the same time, the civil rights movement could not eradicate the race-color caste oppression of black people, which is the bedrock of American capitalism, just as the institution of the family, the main source of women’s oppression in capitalist society, is a bulwark of the bourgeois order.

Abortion Rights Under Attack

While U.S. bourgeois pundits celebrate the reproductive freedom that the Pill has given women, it is striking that most do not mention the precipitous decline in women’s access to abortion. The assault on women’s right to abortion continues unabated in the courts and halls of government, especially on the state level. As of June, some 370 bills to restrict abortion rights had been introduced this year alone in state legislatures across the country, and many have already passed. These range from Oklahoma’s cruel requirement that a doctor show the woman an ultrasound of the fetus, to Nebraska’s ban on all abortions after 20 weeks based on the claim that the fetus can feel pain. Perhaps the most barbarous is Utah’s new law. Passed after a desperate 17-year-old paid a man $150 to beat her in an effort to induce a miscarriage, the law now allows homicide charges against women in similar cases! Meanwhile, the lies that abortion causes depression and breast cancer continue to circulate, and some recent polls show that for the first time more Americans call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”

The arsenal of legal measures on the federal as well as the state level has already made abortion virtually inaccessible to a large number of women. Thirty-eight states prohibit abortions after a specified point in pregnancy. Fully 35 states require one or both parents of women under 18 to be notified and/or consent to an abortion. Some 87 percent of U.S. counties and 31 percent of metropolitan areas have no abortion services.

In May 2009, the “pro-life” war on women claimed yet another life. Dr. George Tiller—one of only three doctors whose clinics provide late-term abortions in the United States—was assassinated while attending his church in Wichita, Kansas, by a right-wing anti-abortion bigot. Tiller, a main target of the anti-woman God squad for decades, was the eighth person murdered in this anti-abortion, “family values” onslaught since 1993. In an article titled “The New Abortion Providers,” the New York Times (18 July) details the long decline in the number of doctors trained in performing abortions and tells the story of young doctors in groups like Medical Students for Choice fighting to make abortion part of a doctor’s regular practice. Abortion is a medical procedure, now one of the safest in the world, that does not need to be carried out in isolated clinics, where doctors and their families, friends and co-workers can easily be subjected to harassment, violence and death by anti-abortion fanatics.

Ever since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the basic democratic right of legal abortion has been under attack. The war on abortion rights has become a spearhead for social and political reaction because at its heart lies the question of legal and social equality for women. Providing women with some control over whether or not to have children, abortion is viewed as a threat to the institution of the family.

Access to contraception, too, is limited by cost and lack of basic information, while “conscience clauses” allow pharmacies to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and Plan B, the “morning-after” pill. To all this can be added anti-woman moralizing, which rants that a girl shouldn’t want to have sex. The argument goes that while any unwed mother is a bad girl, if she can claim she got carried away, maybe the sin is not quite as great (as long as she doesn’t have an abortion). But having birth control implies premeditation. Precisely! In the words of the late comedian George Carlin, “Not every ejaculation deserves a name.”

Today sex education in schools is increasingly under attack, while abstinence remains the focus of government-funded programs like the State Personal Responsibility Education Program, established by Barack Obama’s recent health care “reform” act. Abortion clinics are overwhelmingly outnumbered by “pregnancy crisis centers”—fake clinics set up by anti-abortion groups with the purpose of subjecting pregnant women to anti-abortion propaganda and otherwise pressuring them to carry the fetus to term. According to the Nation, some 4,000 of these centers have received over $60 million in federal abstinence and marriage-promotion funds. As a result of the ignorance and miseducation produced by this tangle of social reaction, almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. every year are unplanned, according to the most recent government survey.

While U.S. newspapers headline “The Pill: Making Motherhood Better for 50 Years” (Washington Post, 9 May), the masses of working-class, minority and poor women have missed the celebration. The Great Recession rages on; union-busting is destroying what good union jobs remain; homes are in foreclosure; millions of working people cannot get jobs and their children cannot get a decent education or affordable health care. Except for the women at the very top of society, where the rich are certainly getting richer, the decades-long assault on the working class and the poor has more than canceled out the important improvements in women’s legal status over the last 50 years.

In times of substantial class and social struggle, the capitalist class may be forced to cede some reforms. But as long as the capitalist order remains, the ruling class will seek to overturn these gains, as it is now doing, when such struggles are at an ebb. As revolutionary communists, we defend every gain that’s been won for the exploited and oppressed, such as the gains wrested during the hard struggles of the civil rights movement. But these reforms have a fundamentally token quality to them because they leave untouched the capitalist system. The source of black oppression and anti-woman bigotry is not the particular capitalist party in power—whether Democratic or Republican—but the capitalist order that breeds oppression and bigotry as a necessary corollary to its system of exploitation.

Sex and Social Control

The capitalist class seeks to buttress the family, which, along with organized religion and the state, form a triad that props up the exploitation of labor. To free women from their deeply entrenched special oppression will take a workers revolution to rip this system of exploitation out by the roots and replace it with a workers government to begin the construction of a socialist world. Only then can we undertake the profound changes in the fabric of everyday life where the institution of the family is replaced by socialized childcare and housework, enabling women to fully participate in social and political life.

The family is not an immutable, timeless institution, but a social relation subject to historical change. In his classic 1884 work The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Friedrich Engels traced the origin of the family and the state to the division of society into classes. The development of agriculture allowed the creation of a social surplus. In turn, that surplus gave impetus to the development of a leisured ruling class, thus moving human society away from the primitive egalitarianism of the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic). The centrality of the family began with its role in ensuring “legitimate heirs” for the patriarchal inheritance of property, which required women’s sexual monogamy and social subordination. In the 10,000 years since the advent of class society, the family has taken many forms—including polygamous, extended and nuclear—reflecting different political economies and their cultures and religions. But the oppression of women is a fundamental feature of all class societies.

The family is a socially conservatizing force that imposes certain behavioral norms. For example, in this country the definition of “manhood” is, besides getting a girl pregnant, the ability to support a wife and children. But that is becoming ever more difficult given the lack of decent-paying union jobs. If not for wives entering the workforce, the entire bottom 60 percent of the U.S. population would have had real income losses since 1979. At the same time, the institution of the family serves the capitalist rulers by placing the burden of raising a new generation of proletarians on working men and women. Indeed, the “family values” crowd (which encompasses Democrats as well as the Republicans) wails about the so-called “crisis of the family” and insists that it is both right and proper that parents should be wholly responsible for the upbringing of their children.

Even the most cursory examination of laws regulating abortion, contraception and the like that go back thousands of years shows that they are integrally related to the maintenance of the family. Some of the first documented legal measures to strengthen the patriarchal family were enacted in ancient Rome under Augustus Caesar. These included prohibitions against adultery, incentives for widows to remarry, “sin” taxes on bachelors 30 years and older, and incentives for fathers of three or more children. The concern of the government was to have enough Roman citizens to fill the ranks of the army and maintain the city of Rome as the core of the Empire.

Modern abortion laws show how social and legal institutions have changed to reflect the interests of the capitalist class. In 1803 the British Ellenborough Act marked the advent of abortion as a statutory crime in the English-speaking world. The interest of the ruling class in this law and others following it was to protect the male’s right to heirs, punish (especially single) women for illicit sex and encourage population growth for the newly forged capitalist nation-state, its army and labor pool.

Alongside legal prohibition stands religion, the strongest ideological force against birth control and abortion, especially the Roman Catholic church. The claims by the Pope and other clergy about the “souls” of unborn children are revealed as so much superstition by the science of human development. Yet thanks to the reactionary influence of religion, tens of thousands of women die each year from illegal abortions—lives that would have been saved with access to birth control and abortion. A brief look at Catholic doctrine shows that the church has changed its mind several times about when the nonexistent “soul” enters into the conceptus. For most of the existence of the church, this was considered to be the time of “quickening,” at about the fourth month, when the pregnant woman can feel the movement of the fetus. John XXI, who became pope in 1276, was the author of a book called Treasury of Medicines for the Poor, which is the greatest single source of information about the practical means of birth control and abortion that was known in the Middle Ages. It was not until 1869 that Pope Pius IX declared that abortion “from conception” was a sin. This was a political calculation carried out in exchange for recognition of “papal infallibility” by French Emperor Napoleon III, who was seeking to stem France’s decades-long decline in the birth rate.

The woman-hating strictures against birth control and abortion, the poisonous bigotry against homosexuals, the witchhunting of “deviant” sex (who defines that?), the relentless pressure on youth to somehow refrain from giving in to their raging hormones—all these are corollaries of the institution of the family and the social control that it gives the ruling class. As communists we oppose attempts to fit human sexuality into legislated or decreed so-called “norms.” Government out of the bedroom! The guiding principle for sexual relations between people should be that of effective consent—that is, nothing more than mutual agreement and understanding as opposed to coercion. All consensual relations are purely the concern of the individuals involved, and the state has no business interfering in human sexual activity.

Some History of Birth Control

In Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance (Harvard University Press, 1994), John M. Riddle explores the ways that pre-industrial people might have tried to enjoy sex without the consequence of procreation. Nobody knows if the methods he documents had much effect on the birth rates, but they certainly show intent. One city in Northern Africa, Cyrene, is believed to have made its name and its fortune from a wild giant fennel that grew nearby, which people believed to have abortifacient effects. Its use became so widespread that it was harvested to extinction.

Peter Fryer, in his witty and erudite book The Birth Controllers, documents that ancient Egyptians used crocodile-dung pessaries (vaginal suppositories) and other dubious methods to control fertility. The Christian Bible’s story of Onan is only the most well known of a long-practiced method (withdrawal), a story used for centuries to put the terror of hell into countless adolescents for masturbation. Some historians believe that the tens of thousands of women who were executed as witches in early modern Europe may have been abortionists and birth control practitioners. In 20th-century America, before the Pill, housewives often resorted to the dangerous practice of douching with Lysol.

In the 1830s, a Massachusetts doctor named Charles Knowlton was the first person in the history of birth control to be sent to prison for advocating it. The United States also has the dubious honor of passing the first nationwide laws prohibiting the dissemination of birth-control methods. In 1873 Congress passed the Comstock Act, named for its sponsor, Postmaster General Anthony Comstock. It outlawed the circulation of contraceptive information and devices through the U.S. postal service as “pornography.” In 1915 Comstock boasted that he had convicted enough people of “sexual misconduct” to fill a 60-car passenger train.

One of Comstock’s prominent targets in later years was Margaret Sanger. Sanger, who would go on to found Planned Parenthood, began her political life as a member of the Socialist Party, working on the party’s women’s committee. She was working as a nurse, visiting immigrants in New York’s Lower East Side, where she saw firsthand the suffering of women whose health had been ruined by too many pregnancies, who were struggling to feed children they could not afford to support, who all too often ended up butchered by some back-alley abortionist. Soon she began writing about sex education and health for the party’s women’s page under the heading, “What Every Girl Should Know.” In early 1913 Comstock banned the column, and the paper ran in its place a box titled “What Every Girl Should Know—Nothing; by order of the U.S. Post Office.”

Sanger soon left the Socialist Party to focus single-mindedly on fighting for birth control, a term that she herself invented. A courageous woman, Sanger set up the first birth control clinic in the country and endured arrests and imprisonment as she sought to overturn the Comstock Law and to educate women and doctors in birth control methods. She traveled to Europe to research the latest techniques and wrote a sex manual in 1926 where she describes the act of sex in ecstatic, uplifting terms. Seeking to promote the cause of birth control among the wealthy and influential, she steered her movement away from the socialist movement. Sanger, a bourgeois feminist, was willing to make any political compromise she saw as necessary to win advocates to her side and thus embraced some ugly arguments popular among bourgeois reformers of the time, such as endorsing eugenics, including the call to bar immigration for the “feebleminded.” While the eugenics movement, which stigmatized the poor for their own oppression, was at the time not yet associated with the genocidal movement that would emerge in Nazi Germany, it was widely opposed by socialists. American socialist and birth control pioneer Antoinette Konikow denounced the presence of eugenicists at a 1921 New York City conference on birth control, declaring that the working-class mothers she represented “are often considered to be not fit” by such forces.

The “Population Bomb”

Behind the scenes (or not), people have always struggled to control fertility for their own private reasons. But there is also a longstanding chain of argument in favor of population control on the part of bourgeois ideologues. The most notorious of these was made by Church of England parson Thomas Malthus, whose 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population predicted unrelenting misery on account of population growth that would, he claimed, inevitably outstrip available resources. Writing at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, Malthus proposed two solutions: leave the poor to die of their misery (he opposed poor relief) and postpone the age of marriage so as to reduce the number of children per couple (that is, “abstinence” as birth control).

Malthusianism was, as Friedrich Engels characterized it in The Condition of the Working-Class in England, “the most open declaration of war of the bourgeoisie upon the proletariat.” Lenin, too, denounced Malthusianism in a short 1913 article, “The Working Class and Neomalthusianism.” At the same time, he noted, “It goes without saying that this does not by any means prevent us from demanding the unconditional annulment of all laws against abortions or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures, etc.” Lenin called for “freedom for medical propaganda and the protection of the elementary democratic rights of citizens, men and women.”

The corollary of Malthusianism, eugenics, with its calls for compulsory sterilization and forced abortions, has its contemporary advocates, including Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren. In 1977, Holdren co-authored Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment with the (now largely discredited) population “experts” Paul and Anne Ehrlich. Dripping with contempt, Holdren et al. wrote: “If some individuals contribute to general social deterioration by overproducing children…they can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility.” Such “reproductive responsibility” laws could include “compulsory abortion,” “adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods,” “sterilizing women after their second or third child” and other “involuntary fertility control” methods that would be implemented by a “Planetary Regime,” which “might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world.” The ravings of Holdren and the Ehrlichs are worthy of the genocidal Nazi eugenics movement.

Marxists are of course not indifferent to the problem of rapid population growth. But our starting point is the fight for socialist revolution to open the widest vista of human freedom. As we wrote in part two of “Capitalism and Global Warming” (WV No. 966, 8 October):

“Only a society that can raise the standard of living worldwide can provide the conditions for a natural decline in reproductive rates….

“Under communism, human beings will have far greater mastery over their natural and social environments. Both the division between town and country and economic dependence on the family will be overcome. The time when people were compelled to have more children in order to ensure enough manpower to work the land or to care for the elderly will have long passed.”

Genesis of the Pill

Margaret Sanger first had the idea of a “magic pill” to prevent conception in 1912, but the scientific knowledge to create it did not exist. By the end of World War II, decades of research into human reproductive biology had revealed the crucial role of hormones in conception and pregnancy. In 1953 Sanger, accompanied by International Harvester heiress Katherine McCormick, paid a visit to the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, where Gregory Pincus, who in the 1930s engineered the first in vitro fertilization (a rabbit embryo), conducted his privately funded research. Pincus’s early work had been cited as a great scientific achievement, but the storm of media condemnation over “babies in test tubes” led to him being denied tenure by Harvard University and all but driven from mainstream research as a “mad scientist.” Another maverick scientist, chemist Russell Marker, had developed a technique, later refined by Carl Djerassi, to extract massive, cheap amounts of a synthetic progestin from a species of enormous yam that grew only in Mexico. The research to create an oral contraceptive was funded almost entirely out of McCormick’s private fortune; the pharmaceutical companies would not touch research into contraception at that time.

The post-World War II years were hard for American women. The outbreak of the Cold War, the purge of communists and other militants from the unions and the rise of McCarthyism also included a wholesale campaign to put women back into the kitchen and nursery. Many women had escaped from such drudgery during World War II, when their labor was necessary for the war economy. As the government investigated “subversives,” there was an unprecedented state intrusion into family life and the deadening of every aspect of social and intellectual life. A “normal” family and a vigilant mother were supposed to be the front line of defense against treason, while anti-Communists linked “deviant” family or sexual behavior to sedition. Most women were married by age 19; the birth rate became the highest in U.S. history.

At the same time, the groundbreaking reports by Alfred C. Kinsey documented what Americans really did behind the bedroom door (and in some other places, too). And women wanted better contraception. The Pill was first marketed in 1957 as a treatment for menstrual disorders. When word circulated that it suppressed ovulation and prevented pregnancy, doctors across the country were besieged by hundreds of thousands of women asking for prescriptions to treat their suddenly discovered menstrual problems.

The leap to respectability and mainstream medicine for the Pill came through Harvard gynecologist John Rock, a fertility specialist, who had the medical practice and experience in working with women patients that enabled the first clinical trials to be conducted. A devout Roman Catholic, Rock later wrote a book, The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor’s Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control, trying to garner public support in a fruitless campaign to make the Catholic church change its denunciation of birth control as a sin.

In its first incarnation, the Pill had doses of progesterone and estrogen far higher than it does today, leading to serious side effects in some users. These dangers were seized upon by anti-woman bigots, including in the Senate, which in 1970 held a series of hearings to “investigate” the matter. Over the years the Pill has been massively tested in many combinations. While risks remain regarding breast cancer and stroke for some, the Pill in fact helps to protect women from ovarian and uterine cancer. Because it reduces or eliminates the menstrual flow, it also reduces the risk of anemia, a serious problem in poor countries. The experience of millions of women, researchers and doctors working to improve the safety of the Pill has provided the basis for the clinical trials and testing now routinely used by the Food and Drug Administration.

From Carter to Reagan: Resurgence of the Religious Right

By 1960 the Pill was available by prescription as a contraceptive, but laws against contraception remained on the books in many states. Until 1965, it was illegal for married people in Connecticut to use birth control. Until 1972, it was illegal for single people to use birth control in Massachusetts and many other states as well. Bill Baird, a heroic fighter for women’s right to abortion and contraception, spent three months in jail in Massachusetts for giving a package of contraceptive foam and a condom to a Boston University student as a challenge to the law. His case later went to the Supreme Court and helped lay the basis for the right to privacy—the main legal argument behind Roe v. Wade, which established legal abortion in the United States in 1973.

The legalization of abortion was itself a product of the explosive struggles of the 1960s. For the American bourgeoisie, the all-sided social turmoil and defiance of authority of that period were deeply disturbing. U.S. imperialism was suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Vietnam’s heroic workers and peasants. In the late 1970s, a major bourgeois ideological assault was launched to overcome the “Vietnam syndrome”—popular hostility to direct U.S. military intervention abroad—and to instill an unquestioning acceptance of “free enterprise,” God and the family among the population, which included the desirability of dying for one’s country. Coming to office in 1977, the Democratic Carter administration brought “born again” religious fundamentalism front and center into the White House as it kicked off a renewal of U.S. imperialism’s Cold War drive to destroy the Soviet degenerated workers state, garbed in the call for “human rights.”

This was the backdrop for the decades-long anti-sex witchhunt against abortion rights, pornography, gay rights and teen sex as well as for the vicious persecution of AIDS patients and day-care workers, who were targeted and jailed as “child molesters” amid hysterical allegations of “satanic ritual abuse.” Beginning in the 1980s, scientific research into new contraceptive methods virtually screeched to a halt as Reagan slashed funding for family planning internationally, including for abortion and birth control, leaving many Third World women with not much to turn to. While Obama has reversed this particular policy, he explicitly disavowed defending the rights of women as well as immigrants in his health care proposal, proclaiming that “the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally” and that “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” Obama pledged to uphold the Hyde Amendment, which outlaws Medicaid funding for abortions.

For Women’s Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!

Birth control methods like the Pill, medical knowledge, understanding of women’s health—these things have indeed taken giant leaps forward in the last 50 years. But exploitation, poverty and religious and cultural strictures deprive most women on the planet of these benefits. For them, daily life is little more than that of a beast of burden. Across vast regions of the globe, in the backward neocolonial capitalist countries oppressed by imperialism, women are swathed in the veil, sold into marriage against their will, or subjected to barbaric punishments like death sentences for “adultery” in Saudi Arabia, Iran and elsewhere. Poverty and backwardness, buttressed by imperialist domination, mean that much of the basic infrastructure necessary to bring basic medical care, contraception and abortion to Third World women is simply not there. Some researchers estimate that in Latin America and the Caribbean the primary cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 39 is complications from illegal abortions.

Feminism, a worldview counterposed to Marxism, is not capable of generating a program for the liberation of women. Feminism analyzes society as gender-based rather than class-based. It views anti-woman ideology as just bad thinking and puts forward that what is needed is to spread correct ideas and then maybe people will catch on and stop being bigots. Feminism is an anti-egalitarian ideology of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois women who support the capitalist system and seek their own power and privilege within it. Indeed, for women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, the good life will only continue to get better. But for working-class, poor and minority women, jobs disappear, wages plummet and life only continues to get harder. The fundamental source of women’s oppression is not bad laws or male chauvinist attitudes—these are but reflections of the subordination of women in the institution of the family and the capitalist system that requires it.

The liberation of women can be realized only with the victory of proletarian revolution, which will smash all forms of social oppression, lay the material basis to free women from age-old family servitude and reorganize society in the interest of all. The family cannot simply be abolished; rather, its social functions like housework, child rearing, preparation of food, etc., must be replaced by social institutions. This perspective requires a tremendous leap in social development, which can be achieved only through sweeping away capitalist rule on a global basis and replacing it with a rational, democratically planned economy. The International Communist League fights to forge Leninist-Trotskyist parties throughout the world to lead the struggle for working-class power. Inscribed on the banners of these parties will be the struggle for women’s liberation, which is an integral part of the emancipating goals of communism. As we wrote in “In Defense of Science and Technology” (WV No. 843, 4 March 2005):

“Communism will elevate the standard of life for everyone to the highest possible level. By eliminating scarcity, poverty and want, communism will also eliminate the greatest driving force for the prevalence of religion and superstition—and the attendant backwardness, which defines the role of women as the producers of the next generation of working masses to be exploited.”

For women’s liberation through socialist revolution!


Workers Vanguard No. 968

WV 968

5 November 2010


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Birth Control, Abortion Rights and Women’s Oppression

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For Women's Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!

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