Sherry Wolf says the jig is up. I have to agree with her. Here in Louisiana, democrats and republicans in the state legislature are set to pass legislation today to outlaw abortion.

Daily Kos doesn’t want single issue groups to control the party, but I would say, working class people, and their issues, lost control of the party long ago.
Wolf says,

By January 2005, the Democrats had mapped out a strategy of near-total abandonment of women’s right to choose, announced by none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton on the thirty-second anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic, choice to many, many women,” she claimed to a shocked crowd of abortion supporters. Clinton celebrated faith and organized religion as the “primary” reasons why teenagers would abstain from sexual relations–and insisted that there “is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate.”

But there was a buildup to Hillary’s pronouncement, as Wolf outlines:

The Democrats’ longstanding acceptance of legislation for parental consent, waiting periods, and “counseling” for women seeking abortions led to the alarming decrease in the accessibility of abortion under Bill Clinton, who ended his eight years in office with only 14 percent of American counties still offering abortion services. Those were supposedly the “good old” days.

Today in Louisiana, SB 33, if passed, will criminalize abortion. Planned Parenthood has an urgent notice out for help to combat this anti-human rights piece of legislation.

Howard Zinn, in Wolf’s article, has these pertinent thoughts on the abortion issue (quoting from his article in the Progressive):

“It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice…. The right of a woman to an abortion did not depend on the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It was won before that decision, all over the country, by grassroots agitation that forced states to recognize the right. If the American people, who by a great majority favor that right, insist on it, act on it, no Supreme Court decision can take it away.”

When I have time to read, and it isn’t much these days, I often pull Howard Zinn’s the People’s History of the United States from my bookshelf.

I have taken to reading over and over again about the grass roots movements that rose up in the 1930’s to answer the crisis in affordable housing and workers’ rights of that era.

Of course, we face remarkably similar issues here in New Orleans, and, as New Orleans is a microcosm of the rest of the nation, all over the country as well, as affordable housing prices distance themselves ever more from the salaries of working class people, and yes, the professional class as well.

Unbelievably, despite the acute shortage of labor her in New Orleans at this time, wages are still not keeping up with the cost of living: witness Walgreens offering just $6 per hour to start.

Our United Front for Affordable Housing, composed of public housing residents and community housing activists are staging rallies, marches and confronting the powers that be, over issues of housing and human rights here.

What does all this have to do with abortion? All important legislation regarding the strengthening of human rights in this country has been preceded by grass roots movements that have taken it to the streets.

The recent rise of immigration rights activists, by the hundreds of thousands, has given pause to those lawmakers who were moving full steam ahead against immigrant rights.  I agree with Zinn and Wolf, in that we need a national call to action on the abortion issue, to counter state movement to curtail the reproductive rights of women.

If NOW doesn’t have the guts to do it. then other groups and individuals will need to step in.

It is time, once again, to take it to the streets, regarding the issue of abortion rights. And if and when this happens, watch how other issues of human rights are strengthened with positive fallout.

For those who think this is an issue they can afford to not get involved in, consider this: those women seeking abortions can be viewed now as the least of us. Undermine the rights of one group of people, particularly those most vulnerable to persecution, and all of our rights are undermined.

We can’t afford to “lose” a single issue, because this loss will undermine the human rights we are struggling to uphold and put into practice here in our own country.

That is the fallacy of the condemnation of single issue groups. These groups focus on the issue, and provide education for the rest of us. Let us not abandon a single issue regarding human rights, and strive to protect the human rights of all.