I have followed with dismay the attacks on Rise Up for Abortion Rights coming from a variety of progressive groups also engaged in the struggle to ensure that people in the United States have free and unrestricted access to reproductive and abortion care.
Like most who will be reading this statement, I am angered and deeply troubled by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. As predicted, this decision, formally titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has resulted in a wave of anti-abortion laws being enacted in the state after state, some of which amount to outright bans. The damage that is being done by these laws to women who are or might become pregnant is unconscionable. On the one hand, I have no doubt that we will soon see a tremendous negative impact on the health and well-being of those whose access to adequate and appropriate reproductive health care is now being severely curtailed. On the other hand, we have not yet even begun to understand the scale of the emotional and psychological toll that this decision will take on those who are losing the essential healthcare support that they need and deserve from the communities to which they belong. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a cruel and deadly decision that must be undone as quickly as possible.
This is the source of my dismay about the attacks being leveled by abortion rights groups against Rise Up for Abortion Rights. The effect of these attacks is to divide us at a time when we desperately need to be working in concert to achieve a common goal—access to full reproductive health care, including abortion, for all who need it.
We can be sure that those who are rallying to expand what has happened with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in order to create a nation and a world where abortion is even less accessible than it is at the current moment are not all of one mind. And yet, they are able to set aside their differences in order to pursue their common goal. If we are unable to do the same, then we can be sure that this is a battle we will lose. And our world will be the worse for it.
Ideological and political disagreements should be aired in a principled, substantive way—this is not a time for making false accusations or flinging ad-hominem attacks. Now is the time to work together on various fronts to ensure that those who need abortions or other forms of reproductive health care will be able to get them.
So, I appeal for an end to the vicious and untrue attacks on Rise Up for Abortion Rights and on the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) which is one of its initiators. It is not only unfair but profoundly untrue to portray Rise Up for Abortion Rights as a front organization for the RCP. The RCP is merely one of the groups that have helped Rise Up for Abortion Rights to formulate and proclaim its courageous and passionate message that the decision to strike down Roe v. Wade is both unjust and cruel and that it must be reversed immediately. While other abortion rights groups may choose to take a different path in their advocacy, there is no room for attacking the good and important work that Rise Up for Abortion Rights is doing by getting people into the streets to demand the immediate reversal of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Along these lines, I appeal to all of us in the movement to guarantee the rights of women to control their own bodies and to make their own decisions about reproductive health care including abortion, to stop the unconscionable attacks that are being made on the RCP and its leader Bob Avakian. These attacks not only divide us at a time when we need to be acting in unity, but they are also dangerous. We need only look at the damage done in the 1970s by the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program to discredit, divide, neutralize and destroy domestic political organizations that they had deemed subversive to understand the damage that can be done when we attack and discredit those in our own movement using similarly inflammatory and often untrue attacks. Bob Avakian is not a cult leader. Whether or not we agree with him and his revolutionary approach to social change, he is a person of deep principle and powerful intellectual capacity who has fully committed himself to “the emancipation of humanity.” Those who follow him are not puppets. They join the movement because they find Avakian’s description of the history and his scientific approach to social and political change to be compelling. Finally, organizations like Rise Up for Abortion Rights and Refuse Fascism, which have significant support from the RCP, are not pyramid schemes designed to raise huge sums of money to support the leadership of the RCP. This accusation is nothing more than an insulting and inflammatory attack against all who have participated in these movements whether or not they have actually been members of the RCP. These attacks are not made on the basis of any real evidence; they are rather used as propaganda whose only purpose is to demonize and divide. As such, they must stop immediately! Not only can we not afford the damage that some of us are doing to the larger movement through these attacks, but we must also recognize how dangerous and—honestly, immoral and unjust—it is to create or even take part in such smear campaigns.
I encourage all of us to engage the RCP and its leader Bob Avakian in a manner that is respectful and open. There will be time for us to debate our differences in approach. But for now, stop the attacks. This type of internecine battling does nothing to advance either our struggle for abortion rights or our ultimate efforts to emancipate humanity and create a better world. In fact, it almost certainly guarantees that the unjust and intolerable situation created by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will continue long into our future.