A Statement from NYC for Abortion Rights on the Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an opportunity for all of us who believe in reproductive justice to fully reckon with what winning it will require.

Decades of liberal feminism have taught us to believe that our right to abortion is in the hands of the Supreme Court, and that to secure that right, we have to elect Democrats. Establishment reproductive rights groups have asked us to stake everything on this promise. Meanwhile they’ve eschewed or even suppressed struggles for workers’ rights, universal healthcare, abolition, and immigrant rights—struggles that should unite all of us who care about bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom.

We grieve with everyone who is afraid of a future without legal abortion. We reject veneration of any Supreme Court justice as a form of doubling down on the same failing strategy that got us here in the first place: reliant on a court ruling from our most undemocratic institution to prop up an unjust system where only the well-off can easily enjoy their constitutional right. We reject despair.

Our goal is not to preserve Roe, in the end. Our goal is to win free abortion on demand as part of universal healthcare. True reproductive justice demands it. This will require strategies beyond getting more RBGs on the court. The Supreme Court is perversely unaccountable to us and Democrats keep selling us out anyway. All we have is us, and we have the only tools that ever won anything: protests, refusal, strikes, riots, struggle. 

We’ll need many kinds of tactics for this fight. The same emboldened right that has been targeting immigrants, Muslims, Black people, and protesters has also been terrorizing abortion patients and clinic workers for decades, especially since the 2016 election, with almost no opposition on the ground from the left. As the president calls on his white supremacist supporters to “stand by,” we expect that the right will escalate their violence in the streets in the weeks and months ahead—including anti-abortion violence. We call on our comrades across the country to join with us in preparing to protect clinic workers, patients, and each other. Abortion is in our hands!