Vermont State Labor Council AFL-CIO
THE WORKING CLASS IS UNDER ATTACK: WE MUST PASS THE VERMONT REPRODUCTIVE LIBERTY AMENDMENT ON 11/8/22- YES ON ARTICLE 22!
Statement from the VT AFL-CIO Women & Gender Equity Network:
Working people are tired: Most of us are struggling just to get by with record levels of corporate greed, which we euphemistically call inflation, and our work does not end when the shift of our second or third job does – especially if we have a family. That’s why we, as union members, saw the Dobbs decision for what it is: an attack on the poor and working classes. Tired as we may be of this relentless class war, we are nevertheless undaunted.
This summer, VT AFL-CIO members formed a Women & Gender Equity Network to fight back. The first position we took was on Article 22, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, also known as Proposal 5. We believe you should support it – and for reasons you may have not yet heard.
Of course, we stand with the science behind the main argument in support of Article 22, which is that when it comes to healthcare decisions, including abortions, only patients and their doctors should be making those decisions – not politicians. Even though Vermont passed an Abortion Rights bill in 2019, laws can be reversed by those elected into office. By enshrining reproductive liberty in our state’s constitution, we can keep politicians – who are not required to have a medical degree or take the Hippocratic oath – out of our private healthcare decisions.
But why do politicians want to be all up in our business when it comes to abortions in the first place? After all, even the first Puritan colonizers practiced abortion and birth control methods. In fact, it was only in 1873 with the passage of the Comstock Act that abortions and birth control generally became outlawed, as, academic Jenny Brown notes “white male elites began to worry about population decline and the economic independence of women.” Brown further notes that the wealthy white Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class was expressing concern that they [the ruling class] would be outnumbered by immigrants, particularly Catholics. The irony is that outlawing birth control only made it harder for immigrants, who were mainly poor and working class, to control their reproduction, while the wealthy continued to find ways to access abortions and birth control.
Today’s ruling class pretty much has the same mentality. They do not care about protecting life. They want their “human capital stock,” their “human resources,” to be as cheap and disposable as possible. After all, more hungry bellies to feed can compel whole families to work for wages that keep them in perpetual poverty. And, if workers get uppity about their rights and dignity, they can be quickly replaced. You can see them freaking out about low birthrates in the United States and the economic implications throughout their institutions and organizations, such as the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute, and the National Defense University.
Then, there are those among the ruling class who promulgate irrational, racist fears, as did the wealthy white Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class of the 1870s. Anti-abortion zealots who subscribe to the “Great Replacement” theory have false, fascist beliefs that white supremacy is good for white people, that it is sustained by a white majority, and that restricting access to abortion and birth control will increase the white population. At the end of the day, white supremacy and racism are systems of oppression that exist to divide and harm all working people for the benefit of a tiny, elite ruling class. Of course, the more calculating members of the ruling class know this.
The ruling class has always wanted to control the labor – including the reproductive labor – of working people for solely exploitative reasons. That is why we, the Women & Gender Equity Network, ask Vermont workers to unite and vote YES on Article 22 on November 8th! It’s time to acknowledge the nefarious reasons behind the anti-abortion crackdown and stop letting the bosses and their politicians control every aspect of our lives.
Our work isn’t done after November 8th. All workers are welcome to join the VT AFL-CIO Women & Gender Equity Network to continue the fight against capitalism, gender & sex oppression for a future where we control our own labor and receive its full value. Our next meeting is Thursday, November 10th. Go to vt.aflcio.org > Events [https://vt.aflcio.org/events] to see all future meetings and updates.
-VT AFL-CIO Women & Gender Equity Network