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Commentary :: Gender : Human Rights : International : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : War and Militarism
Hands off Amber Abreu!
06 Feb 2007
Amber Abreu, a 18-year-old working class Dominican woman, is facing years in prison, for trying to have an abortion. Because she didn't have better medical care, the drug that Abreu took didn't work properly and the baby lived for a short time after it was born. Abreu is not being prosecuted for any crime she committed: she is innocent! She is being targeted because she is a woman, because she is poor, because she is an immigrant, and most of all because the capitalist system depends on exploiting women with low-paid and unpaid labor at work and at home. The state enforces this inequality by ganging up with the church to prevent women from controlling their own bodies, chaining them to their husbands and families. While the feminists look to the Democrats to protect Roe vs. Wade, Amber Abreu's case shows us that for poor and oppressed women, the rights and choices that the Supreme Court supposedly guarantees are as real as the rights of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay torture camp. It will take a revolutionary struggle to eradicate all social inequality to achieve women's liberation: the working class, especially the working women from Lawrence to the maquilladoras and sweatshops of the oppressed countries, have the power to stop the war against women just like we have the power to stop the war against Iraq. The unions should picket this and every court date, and call stop-work meetings to discuss Abreu's case, to prepare for walkouts and massive protests in her defense.
[From the special supplement to the February, 2007 edition of Working Class Emancipation]

Hands off Amber Abreu! Drop all the charges now!
Free abortions on demand!
Women's liberation through socialist revolution!

Friday, Feb. 23, 8:30 AM
Lawrence District Court
2 Appleton St.
Lawrence, MA

One of the speakers at the peace parade held on January 27 in Washington, DC was Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women. Her speech was unremarkable for what she said. Like the other speakers, she curtsied to the imperialist military and begged Congress - which was out of town on that Saturday - to stand up to Bush. But it was remarkable for what she didn't say. United for Peace and Justice gave the first fifteen minutes of the program to the "Network of Spiritual Progressives," one of whose speakers used his time at the podium to take a stand, not for the people of Iraq, but for the "sacred" rights of fetuses, that is, against women. Gandy had nothing to say about this. As Gandy and the rest of the bourgeois feminists celebrated the Democratic takeover of Congress, the reality of women's oppression under capitalism hit home again in Massachusetts.

In the US, the anti-women reactionary campaign, spearheaded by religious obscurantists as well as political reactionaries, centers around the right of women to choose for themselves whether or not to bear children. This right is essential if women are to progress beyond dependence on men and overcome their confinement in male-dominated marriage and family situations. Because so much is at stake for women in the right to choose, those who dare to exercise this right face relentless attacks.

Class intersects the oppression of women: the hard work women perform in organizing and maintaining the home, as well as their tireless efforts in child raising, represent a rich source of totally unpaid labor with immense social significance. It is vital to the financial health of capitalist societies that women be kept in their places, by religion, custom, and, when necessary, state intervention, that is, repression.

Zealous defense of the fetus and its "rights," against the choices of real people, women, plays an indispensable role in keeping women in their place in male-dominated class societies, since childrearing can involve decades of a woman's life, tying her permanently to her husband and home. Thus the state vigorously embraces the fetus, using it as a club against poor and working women.

Amber Abreu, who lives in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is a teenage immigrant from the Dominican Republic, one of many dominicanas in southern New England. She came to the US less than 2 years ago and continued her education, earning a high school equivalence diploma in Lawrence. Described as "well-behaved and hard-working," she was trying to learn English and helped support the relatives with whom she lives by working at Macy's.

Abreu chose to end a pregnancy by taking the abortion-inducing drug Cytotec, reportedly a common practice in the Dominican Republic, where abortion is illegal; in this case, the drug caused Abreu to give birth prematurely. In tragic circumstances for both mother and daughter, the child died four days after being born.

US imperialism, which uses the Dominican Republic and the rest of the Caribbean (except for Cuba) as its private plantation for sweatshop labor and sunny vacations, provided the military might to prop up the right-wing dictators Rafael "the goat" Trujillo and Joaquín Balaguer in the Dominican Republic. Democrat president Lyndon Johnson sent over 42,000 US troops to impose Balaguer on the Dominican people in 1965. Both dictators were tied to the reactionary clergy, with Balaguer heading the deceptively named "Social Christian Reformist Party." Their reign of terror, directed against whatever sectors that sought any degree of independence from US imperialism, set back the cause of women's equality. This alliance with clerical reaction is typical of US imperialism, which used the Catholic church in Poland and Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan to roll back the Russian revolution, turns to obscurantist Buddhist monarchists in Tibet to attack the Chinese deformed workers' state, and backs the Zionist apartheid regime in Israel to enforce Wall Street's monopoly on the riches of the Middle East. In every case, working class and poor women like Amber Abreu bear the heaviest consequences of these imperialist power plays.

Now here is an 18 year old, without resources, lacking access to decent medical care, who dealt with a very difficult situation the only way she knew how. Because of that, Abreu already faces felony charges for her miscarriage, charges which could put her behind bars for 7 years, but that is just the beginning of her troubles: Abreu now runs the risk of being charged with murder.

Either way, the state will manage to ruin her life; a female immigrant, without funds, relying on a public defender, facing terribly serious accusations in the US legal system - it is just about certain that she will be imprisoned for years. Abreu's situation shows that the right to choose means nothing, is not really available for her, if she cannot afford to pay for an abortion. For poor and oppressed women in the US, Roe vs. Wade is about as real as the right to habeas corpus is for the prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp.

In a society where women enjoyed real equality, there would be adequate, readily available medical care for all stages of life, and women's choices, to bear children or not, would be respected, not penalized. These are not options under capitalism, a system which depends on religious myth and state repression to keep women subjugated.

Even when poor women choose to play by the God-squad's rules and become a mother, they can still face police repression. A year ago, Sofia Salva, three months pregnant, was busted by Kansas City cops for traffic violations and outstanding warrants. Although Salva repeatedly explained to the police that she was pregnant, was in fact bleeding, and needed medical attention, she was jailed for a night. Her lawyer summed up Salva's situation at her arrest: "This is a lady who was in severe medical distress and clearly needed emergency medical attention and medical treatment."

This incident highlights the role of the police as agents of repression in dealing with women: when Salva was first stopped by the cops, she explained that she was having a miscarriage and bleeding. One cop responded by telling his partner, "She just gave me a line of excuses."

Salva then told the second cop, "I'm three months pregnant and I'm bleeding." She was forced to sit on the curb while the police searched the car and her belongings. When Salva again told the police she was bleeding and needed to go to a hospital, the cop said, "Well, that will be something you can take care of when we get done with you." Salva was then handcuffed. She once again let the cops know that she was bleeding, and the answer came back, "I don't doubt that you're possibly bleeding, but you got a lot more problems with us." Once in jail, Salva continued to ask for medical attention, and her requests were ignored. The next day, after Salva's release, she suffered a miscarriage.

It will take a revolutionary struggle to eradicate all social inequality to achieve women's liberation: the working class, especially the working women from Lawrence to the maquilladoras and sweatshops of the oppressed countries, have the power to stop the war against women just like we have the power to stop the war against Iraq. The unions should picket every court date, and call stop-work meetings to discuss Abreu's case, to prepare for walkouts and massive protests in her defense. The brief examples in this article support our position that the cause of women's liberation, especially if we approach it, as we must, from the perspective of women worldwide, is organically linked to the fight for workers' revolution to defeat imperialism in the United States and everywhere.

¡Manos fuera de Amber Abreu! ¡Retiren todos los cargos ahora! ¡Derecho incondicional de aborto gratis! ¡Liberación de las mujeres mediante la revolución socialista!

vie, 23 feb, 8:30 AM
Lawrence District Court
2 Appleton St.
Lawrence, MA

Amber Abreu se enfrenta con años en cárcel, porque trató de hacerse un aborto. Por falta de atención medico mejor, la droga que ella tomó no funcionó bien, y el bebé vivió por un poco de tiempo después del parto. No procesan a ella por ningún crimen suya: ¡es inocente! Es la víctima de persecución por culpa de ser mujer, de ser pobre, de ser inmigrante, y, sobre todo, porque el capitalismo depende en la explotación de las mujeres, en trabajo y en casa. Para imponer la desigualdad, el estado se une con la iglesia para impedir que las mujeres controlen sus propios cuerpos, así encadenándolas a sus esposos y familias. Mientras los feministas recurren a los Demócratas para proteger el precedente de Roe vs. Wade, el caso de Amber Abreu nos muestra que, para las mujeres pobres y oprimidas, los derechos y opciones supuestamente garantizados por la Corte Suprema son tan concretas como los derechos de los detenidos del campo de concentración de Guantánamo. Se necesita una lucha revolucionaria, arrancando toda forma de desigualdad social, para lograr la liberación de las mujeres: la clase obrera, especialmente las mujeres obreras desde Lawrence hasta las maquilladoras de los países oprimidos, tienen el poder de parar la guerra contra las mujeres igual como tienen el poder de parar la guerra contra Irak. Los sindicatos deben organizar piquetes contra todas las audiencias del tribunal, y realizar reuniones en los centros de trabajo, para discutir el caso de Amber Abreu, para preparar huelgas y protestas masivas en su defensa.
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Flier available for download & printing
06 Feb 2007
Amber_Abreu_Protest.pdf></a> <div class=Amber Abreu Protest.pdf (142 k)
Call or email us for copies of the article and flier, or to coordinate work on the defense picket line at Amber's court date.
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