Don’t Give Up on Roe

Now is not the time to despair, but to fight like our lives depend on it, writes Rachel Cohen.

This article is reposted with the kind permission of Rampant – Revolutionary politics, Chicago style.

According to the newspaper of record, it’s up to six reactionary members of a secretive, highly self-referential cabal to decide whether our fundamental human rights are struck in half or wholly discarded. Don’t believe it. 

The United States Supreme Court heard a baffling series of oral arguments on December 1 aimed at overturning the nearly fifty-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that has formally protected the right to abortion. Alongside Brett Kavanaugh’s calls to leave the question of forced pregnancy up to states’ rights amid a horrific crisis of Black maternal mortality and the accused rapist’s assertion that rescinding bodily autonomy would restore the court’s “neutrality” came Mississippi’s argument that abortion is no longer necessary because working women now have it all. 

Based on “Portrait of an unknown woman” by Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita

This comes as a shock to parents currently sweating the toll of unsupported, unpaid, increasingly demanding caregiving work on top of ever more precarious participation in the paid workforce. Of course, for young workers access to abortion is often critical to planned parenthood after achieving more advanced income and stability, as it is for poor, Black, Indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and disabled people shut out of economic opportunities, who are already among the most severely impacted by restricted access to abortion. 

Nonetheless some abortion opponents consider literal handmaiden Amy Coney Barrett as an emblem of the march of women’s progress because she is also raising seven children. The Orwellian absurdity confirms the confidence of an extreme right-wing that it will soon demolish reproductive rights on its own march toward a dystopian agenda. 

As of last month, only 27 per cent of people in the United States supported overturning Roe. Popular democracy is not the point for opponents of abortion. Few degrees of separation distance Republican officialdom from the far-right fringe. In Chicago, a gaggle of anti-choice bigots gathered in Federal Plaza the day of the Dobbs hearing, brandishing a fascistic banner emblazoned with “Family, Tradition, Property.” 

The far-right makes explicit that simultaneous attacks on reproductive justice, immigrant rights, transgender lives, voting rights, jobs, and education are not disjointed spasms of hatred but jigsaws composing a coherent vision. Walling borders and policing gender interlocks with the fact that working-class people face declining living standards by attempting to assert everyone’s well-defined place in society and shared identification with America’s billionaires.  

Hours after the anti-choicers’ demonstration, a vibrant abortion rights rally raised the voices of union leaders, health care activists, and veteran fighters for gender justice. Gay Liberation Network leader Andy Thayer urged us not to give up before the battle has been fought and underscored the added urgency of defending abortion lest the right become even more emboldened in their many-sided assault.

Nurses’ union steward and public healthcare provider Elizabeth Lalasz electrified the crowd reading out the words of Mariame Kaba: “Let this radicalize you rather than drive you to despair!” 

“We have to be ready to do everything activists did to win Roe in the first place,” Chicago teacher and Chicago for Abortion Rights organizer Lauren Bianchi elaborated. In the decisive months to come, we should draw on our history and dream of a new wave of resistance so fierce that the nation’s “Justices” fear our wrath. It’s worth chaining ourselves to the Supreme Court’s marble columns if it links us to each other in a larger militant struggle. The networks we strengthen and deepen now may become the lifelines to underground abortion care that save lives in a post-Roe reality, and they may scaffold our ongoing struggles toward a global future conceived in solidarity and justice for all. 


  • Rachel Cohen – Rachel Cohen organizes with Chicago Feminist Action and is a member of the Rampant editorial collective.

The Anti*Capitalist Resistance Editorial Board may not always agree with all of the content we repost but feel it is important to give left voices a platform and develop a space for comradely debate and disagreement.  

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