When I was a fetus
Sheltered in the womb,
The politicians cared for me
Or so I would assume.
But when I became a human
And they supported war,
I found myself a victim
Of capricious, bourgeois law.
The state's command transcended
The "Right to Life" its plea,
When King Capital demanded
A sacrifice by me.
Given that on this day thirty-five years ago the US Supreme Court legalised abortion, it seems appropriate to examine this issue from a socialist perspective. Samuel Leight in his book The Futility of Reformism - A Case For Peaceful, Democratic Social Revolution*
states that the "..well-being of the fetus and the whole question of abortion, which in the final analysis should be a personal matter between individuals, their physicians, and their conscience, will receive within socialism the protection, proper facilities and harmonious environment that will always remain an impossibility under capitalism. For example, in socialism the fetus and the mother will never be threatened by war or economic insecurity. Pregnant women will have complete free access to the finest medical services available without duress, social embarrassment or the infringement of 'the law.' .." He goes on to argue however that the long held principle of socialism and nothing but is correct: "..becoming entrapped in 'abortion' as a political issue unto itself constitutes a digression from working class interests."
Following an examination of Roe v Wade, the reaction of the Roman Catholic church and abortion leglislation in a selection of European countries, as well as Brazil, Israel and Kuwait (not failing here to note the irony of the all-male parliament deliberating the topic at the same time women were marching outside demanding the right to vote!) he goes on to conclude:
"...To those who are anti-abortion, it is a pity that they do not display as much concern for life after it leaves the womb as they do for when it is contained within it. To those who are pro-abortion, and have mis-directed the issue into a political one, absorbing energies, time and money, they would be well advised, together with their opponents, to re-examine all the social and economic aspects of the subject in relationship to capitalism. For if present society is unable to prevent 40,000 children from dying each day from hunger and disease, and if the underlying objective is to promote life and not to curtail it, the continuation of the present system, with all of its many evils,constitutes the direst of threats to all fetuses, women, men and children alike, especially those belonging to the working class.
It can be realistically assumed that unwanted pregnancies will continue to occur whether the system be capitalism or socialism; that some women will seek abortion, if they so desire, regardless of the law or the prevailing system. However, as both societies would possess a completely different economic base and social structure, the circumstances revolving around the problem would be completely different also..
Within the democratic environment of socialism, wherein poverty and insecurity have been eliminated, and where unbiased knowledge and information will be easily disseminated, all the various methods of birth control will also be made freely available. This factor alone will be instrumental in dramatically decreasing unwanted births and the necessity for contemplated abortion.
Further, and most important, the economic reasons for terminating pregnancies under capitalism will no longer exist in socialism - similarly, this would be applicable to the envisioned curtailment in suicides. Should a woman, in socialism, find herself with an unplanned or undesired pregnancy, she might still decide to abort for other reasons, but they obviously will not be financial ones. With this vital problem eliminated, pregnancies and child rearing should become far more pleasurable than they are today, and again the incidence of abortion considerably diminished.
Humans that have achieved socialism will also have the capabilities, technology and social insight to deal with the issues involved, bereft of the 'law' and aided by the genuine compassions and science of an advanced civilization."
* Copies of this book are available for £5: