Hope in a time of choler: Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion at the federal level

In the same week that Mexico’s two major political parties nominated women to run for President, nearly assuring that Mexico’s next President will be a woman, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that abortion as a federal crime violates Mexico’s Constitution: “The legal system that penalises abortion in the Federal Criminal Code is unconstitutional since it violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to carry a fetus”. This decision builds on a 2021 decision that decriminalized abortion in the state of Coahuila, a state that ironically or tragically or both shares a border with the United States, specifically with Texas. As the Washington Post succinctly put it, “Mexican court expands access to abortion, even as U.S. restricts it.”

The Supreme Court case came as a result of a suit last year, filed by el Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida, GIRE, the Information Group for Reproductive Choice, challenging a 1931 Federal regulation. Since the 2021 decision, 12 Mexican states decriminalized abortion. This week’s ruling means that all Federal hospitals and clinics, irrespective of local laws and restrictions, must provide abortions. Women and people with the ability to carry a fetus can seek abortions without fearing prosecution. Health providers can respond to women and people with the ability to carry a fetus without fearing prosecution. The decriminalization of abortion means the end of a police state of ever impending terror and incarceration.

As both GIRE and the Supreme Court Justices freely admit, while this was a judicial decision, it emerged from years of organizing, from the Green Wave that has swept across Mexico and across the Americas, surging in Argentina, Colombia, and beyond. As Arturo Zaldivar, the former president of the Supreme Court, wrote: “The Green Wave continues to advance. All rights for all women and pregnant people!” A Green Wave continues to surge across Latin America, inspiring, invigorating, and instructing.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit: GIRE)

Hope in a time of choler: In Argentina, emergency contraception is available without a prescription

On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Argentina’s Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, issued Resolution 1062/2023, concerning access to emergency contraception. As of Wednesday, the so-called morning after pill became available over the counter, without a prescription. This major step forward resulted from decades of intense organizing by women’s groups, feminists, and allies. While much of the United States threatens the rights, autonomy, well-being, and safety of women and girls, Argentina leads the world in a better, safer, and more just direction.

After some preliminary considerations, the Resolution states, “That the right to access contraception in all its forms is part of sexual and reproductive rights, recognized as basic human rights enshrined in human rights treaties that have constitutional status. Likewise, the State has committed itself to the reduction of unintended pregnancies, in successive platforms since the signing of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (CIPD, 1994) in which it was recognized that empowerment, full equality and empowerment of women were essential for social and economic progress. To this end, it has committed to promoting the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, which explicitly recognizes the key role of sexual and reproductive health and gender equality and establishes goals linked to the capacity of women, adolescents and all people with the ability to gestate to make informed decisions about sexual relations, timely access to the use of contraceptives and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.”

The Resolution concludes, “Every person of childbearing age must have timely access and without regulatory restrictions to emergency hormonal contraception (AHE), knowing that this is the last chance for contraception after sexual intercourse and thereby reducing maternal mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe abortions.”

Every person of childbearing age. Not only those who can afford to travel somewhere else. Not only those who are connected to various networks, of class or ethne/race or other affiliation. Every person of childbearing age. This is part of sexual and reproductive rights, recognized as basic human rights.

In Argentina, women’s and feminist movements have been organizing around just this point since at least the 1970s. In 1973, for example, a flyer created and distributed by la Unión Feminista Argentina, UFA, proclaimed: ““El embarazo no deseado es un modo de esclavitud / Basta de abortos clandestinos / Por la legalidad del aborto / Feminismo en marcha”. “”Unwanted pregnancy is a form of slavery / Enough of clandestine abortions / For the legality of abortion / Feminism on the march”. Fifty years later, almost to the day, that march is still ongoing, intensifying, expanding, succeeding.

In 2018, the lower legislative house, la Cámara de los Diputados, after long and intensive debate, voted to decriminalize abortion. The Senate rejected the bill. Undeterred, women’s groups, feminist movements and allies persisted. In the waning days of 2020, both houses of the legislature legalized abortion, which was signed into law January 14, 2021. Two years later, the organizing continues. The struggle for sexual and reproductive rights, understood and enforced as integral to human and civil rights, continues.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit: Nursing Clio)

Kobiety Są Zagrożeniem Dla Społeczeństwa? Women Are A Threat to Society?

“Police violence against protestors” sounds like yet another headline we would see featured in the daily New York Timesor Washington Post. Instead, it references a place about a six hour flight east of the United States eastern seaboard; Poland. On October 22nd, 2020, the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland approved a “near-total ban on legal abortion”. Fast forward to May 2023 we see the detrimental effects that come with the criminalization of abortion, the criminalization of women’s rights in Poland. Since the tribunal decision, the female incarceration population increased from 4.4% (of the prison population) in 2020 to 10.9% (of the prison population) in 2023.

Criminalizing women and restricting their rights to protect their bodies did not result in the elimination of abortions nor did it result in a decrease in support for abortion. Instead, it resulted in more women being incarcerated, more women seeking unsafe abortions, more women dying, all while the state looked towards the prison industrial complex as an opportunity for profit. An increase in incarceration rates gives the state the fuel they need to create more prisons to hold more beds and more individuals, essentially creating a surplus. As happened in the United States, the carceral explosion in Poland responded to four main surpluses: state capacity, labor, land, finance capacity. Building prisons was a political, economic solution to these crises.

Women in Poland being criminalized for their rights, for protesting their rights, or for acting upon their needs for abortion and health purposes, have become the surplus in the prison population and are seen as dollar signs to make profit from. By banning abortions, women are either forced to have the baby or they are forced to seek outside help. Both options come at a cost: the cost of sacrificing one’s needs, health, income, and even freedom all by criminalizing the female anatomy and implementing thousands of roadblocks, as if Polish women didn’t already have to go through enough. Prisons have been and will continue to be opportunistic for any country to take advantage of as the argument is always to contain the body of those deemed a danger to society in any capacity. There is no surplus of crime, there is no surplus in criminals or dangerous people, but there IS a surplus in power hungry governments that see women taking control of their bodies and deeming them as a threat. Women’s bodies are always wanting to be controlled, whether it’s abortion rights or rights to autonomy or basic human rights, there is always a type of control over women’s bodies by forcing them to conform to man made decisions.

These concepts are globalized, for every stride forward women take towards achieving equality, there is one stride backwards. When Roe v. Wade was a major stride in women taking control of their bodily autonomy. When Roe v. Wadewas overturned, some thought women would give up all resistance to governmental control. The opposite occurred, women across the United States joined together to rally, peacefully protesting, and ‘rebelling’ against the control of the government. In Poland women have done the same since the October 22nd, 2020 decision banning abortion as the supposed Tribunal deemed that women should not be able to control their bodies because then the government would not be able to commodify them. Are women who take control of their bodies and their rights, while fighting against the government, considered dangers to society or dangers to the government’s money?

If the government wants control, if they want money, if they want to uphold the patriarchy by taking away women’s bodily autonomy, if they want to keep the prison industrial complex alive and maintain the surplus, they will need to try harder because nie poddajemy się i nigdy się nie poddamy! We have not given up and will never give up!

(By Nicole Nowak)

(Photo Credit: Washington Post / Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

Hope in a time of choler: Spain expands women’s, transgender rights

A protest calling for the legalization of abortion, Madrid 1978

On Thursday, Spain’s Congress passed laws, some groundbreaking, that expand the rights and well-being of women, transgender people, and everyone. First, Spain became the first country in Europe to entitle workers to menstrual leave. Second, Spain revised its laws concerning abortion. Under the new law, 16- and 17-year-olds no longer need parental consent to undergo an abortion. The new law further enshrines the right access to abortion in public hospitals. Currently the overwhelming number of abortions take place in private hospitals because state hospital doctors refuse to perform them, claiming religious objection. Period products will now be offered, free, in schools and prisons; hormonal contraceptives and the morning after pill will be offered, free, in public health centers. Third, Spain widened transgender rights. Under the new law, anyone older than 16 can change their legally registered gender without any medical supervision. With parental consent, 14- to 16-year-olds can change their legally registered gender. 12- and 13-year-olds will need a judge’s authorization. No one will be required to prove gender dysphoria. Fourth, another new law bans the use of `conversion therapy’ for LGBTQIA+ people. Finally, a fifth law provides state support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment. The new laws also expanded sex education across the educational landscape. When these laws were all passed, Irene Montero, Equality Minister and member of the Unidas Podemos party, said, “I am well aware that the road does not end here.” There’s more to come. We make the road by walking.

Individually, each of these laws is a major step, and, as always, the result of years of struggle and organizing. Taken together, they offer a glimpse of a world filled with hope that begins with and always insists on the full and unquestionable humanity of every individual and group. As Montero noted, when discussing the transgender legislation, “This is a law that recognizes trans people’s right to freely decide their gender identity. It stops trans realities being treated as abnormalities. Trans people aren’t sick people; they’re people – full stop. They are who they are – full stop. Trans women are women – full stop. From today, the state recognizes that.”

While Spain’s menstrual leave law is the first in Europe, it’s not the first anywhere. Japan, Indonesia, Zambiahave passed similar laws, with varying effects. Likewise, Argentina recognized transgender rights in 2012, and Denmark followed suit in 2014. The point is not which came first but rather that the community of countries widening, rather than further restricting rights, is growing, thanks to Spain’s actions this week. Love is love, people are people, humans are humans, women are women. Full stop.


(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit 1: Chema Conesa / El País) (Image Credit: Barbara Kruger / The Broad)

In Mexico, Aurelia García Cruceño left prison. She never should have been there in the first place.

Last Tuesday, December 20, Aurelia García Cruceño walked out of, or was released from, Centro de Readaptación Social de Iguala, the local jail in Iguala, in Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico. She never should have been in prison in the first place. In 2019, Aurelia García suffered a miscarriage and was arrested for having had an abortion. Today, Aurelia García is 23. She spent the last three years in jail, in a state that decriminalized abortion in May 2022, in a country whose Supreme Court unanimously declared penalizing abortion as unconstitutional. And yet …

In 2019, Aurelia García Cruceño, a 19-year-old Náhua woman, lived in the town of Xochicalco, in the Chilapa de Álvarez Municipality, in the state of Guerrero. A town leader raped Aurelia García, who, because of the man’s stature in the community, felt she couldn’t accuse him, at least not successfully and not without further endangering herself. And so, in June 2019 she fled to her aunt’s house, in Iguala. Aurelia García had no idea that she was pregnant. She also spoke no Spanish.

Four months later, on October 2, 2019, Aurelia García began suffering intense pain and bleeding. Finally, after a week, she endured a miscarriage, an “involuntary abortion”. Her aunt walked in, saw Aurelia García lying, passed out, on the bed, covered in blood, and called the ambulance, who took her to the hospital. When Aurelia García awoke, she was handcuffed to the bed. She was then charged with homicide, tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned.

Again, Aurelia García Cruceño was 19 years old at the time and spoke no Spanish. The lawyers assigned to defend her spoke to her in Spanish, without any Náhuatl speaking translator present. The attorneys told her to plead guilty and take a 13-year sentence. Otherwise, they explained, she’d be imprisoned for 50 years. Aurelia García agreed and signed papers. She had no idea what she was agreeing to nor understood the papers she signed.

At no time was a Náhuatl speaking translator provided, not in the hospital, not by the police, not by her attorneys, not by the Court. And yet …

Feminist and human rights attorneys, organizations and activists jumped to Aurelia García’s defense, once they heard of the case. They brought Aurelia García’s case to court for five separate hearings, and finally arrived at something like justice, or at least the beginnings thereof.

When Aurelia García walked out of prison, she was accompanied by her parents, Agustina Cruceño Naranjas and Alberto García Palazin, and her defense attorneys Verónica Garzón Bonetti and Ximena Ugarte Trangay. Aurelia García, who learned to speak Spanish while in prison, smiled and said, “I made myself strong to be able to move forward and beyond … I am going to study hard and hopefully I will achieve my dream of becoming a teacher … And I want to make sure that what happened to me never happens to anyone else. We cannot stay silent; we must talk and tell what is being done to us.”

Aurelia García Cruceño should never have been in prison. Her abuse by the State is an assault on women generally, on young women, on Indigenous women, on working poor women. As Aurelia García and her allies have noted, she was not alone in Iguala’s Center for Social Readaptation, far from it. In fact, the court has yet to hear the case of Maira Onofre Gómez, held in the same prison for exactly the same `crime’. How many more women must suffer this form of injustice, in Mexico and beyond? For now, Aurelia García Cruceño is with her family and supporters, waiting and preparing for the next trial, where she is suing the State for damages, and preparing for her future life, her dream, of becoming a bilingual teacher for Náhuatl-speaking indigenous children. May that kind of justice prevail.

Aurelia García Cruceño

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Image Credit: Amicus / Twitter) (Photo Credit: La Jornada)

Hope in a time of choler: From India to South Korea and beyond, women’s current and historic rights extended

The news these days is grim, some say “somber”: “currency blowouts and rampant inflation, rising food and fuel prices, and ongoing security threats”; civil and imperial wars; climate crisis forcing millions from their homes, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. These are days with darkness, but they are not exclusively dark days. There is hope. There is light, and it is real, serious, promising, joyful and momentous. Consider the news from India and South Korea in the past twenty-four hours.

Today, in India, the Supreme Court decided that “unmarried women” have a Constitutional right to abortion. The language of the decision is explicit: “All women are entitled to safe and legal abortion … If Rule 3B(c) [the rule which determines who qualifies for abortion] is understood as only for married women, it would perpetuate the stereotype that only married women indulge in sexual activities. This is not constitutionally sustainable.The artificial distinction between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained. Women must have autonomy to have free exercise of these rights … The rights of reproductive autonomy give unmarried women similar rights as married women”. Women have reproductive autonomy. The Constitution says so. The State must recognize and respect the concept as well as the material reality of women’s bodily as well as agential autonomy.

Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy responded to the decision: “I think in a world where the US is moving backwards and failing to recognise women’s right to their own bodies, this judgment is based on the privacy of the body and non-discrimination between married, and unmarried, separated or divorced women. It recognizes all these rights in constitutional and affirmative terms.”

Today, in South Korea, the Supreme Court to pay compensation to women who had been dragooned, by the State, into so-called “camp towns”, large brothels designed to “service” U.S. soldiers. The camp towns were first established in 1945 and ran for decades, and for decades, women who had been trafficked into them had organized, campaigned, and sued for recognition of and compensation for the South Korean government’s role in that industry. In 2018, the Seoul High Court, in a landmark decision, decided that the women were right and deserved something like justice. There were at least three major issues: the role of the State in recruiting, sometimes forcefully, women into sex work, for `the good of the nation’; the forced segregation of camp town women into forced internment facilities and the indiscriminate administration of penicillin; and, finally, recognition and compensation. 117 former camp town women workers had sued the State, and the Court agreed with them on all counts: “In regarding the right to sexual self-determination of the women in the camp town and the very character of the plaintiffs as represented through their sexuality as means of achieving state goals, the state violated its obligation to respect human rights.”

For decades, former camp town women organized. They organized informally, and the organized formally, through Camptown Women’s Human Rights Alliance as well as other organizations. The State appealed the Seoul High Court decision, basically playing the same game as Japan has with `comfort women’, delaying and delaying in the hope, if that’s the right word, that all of the applicants would die before the final decision. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision, and its language was explicit and crystal clear: “The government’s formation and operation of the military base villages, and encouraging and justifying prostitution inside them constitute a violation of the duty to honor human rights”.

Two Supreme Courts today, issuing decisions on different but linked issues, agreed: Women must have autonomy to have free exercise of their rights, and it is the duty of the State to honor those rights as civil, human and women’s rights.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit 1: India Times) (Photo Credit 2: Hankyoreh / Kim Min-kyung)

The role of forced birth in intensifying dystopian labor forms

“A scold is paraded through the community wearing the “bridle,” an iron contraption used to punish women with a sharp tongue. Significantly, a similar device was used by European slavetraders in Africa to subdue their captives and carry them to their ships.”

The U.S. Supreme Court recently created a material and spectacular demonstration of how historical occlusions persist in the present. The people who were not the writers of enshrined documents, including those kidnapped from the African continent or related to them, people with disabilities and many others, are, were, and now will be even more so, at the elusive mercy of legislation, institutions, national borders and predilections of race and class.

As Jill Lepore wrote weeks before the overturn, “Women are indeed missing from the Constitution. That’s a problem to remedy, not a precedent to honor… [A woman] herself does not exist but is instead, as Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, a ‘non-entity.'”

Since the onset of the pandemic, the idea of “essential work” has entered a general consciousness in that people who perform tasks that are crucial to the maintenance of life have become relatively more visible. During the pandemic, workers who do the work that has historically and traditionally fallen to women, including food deliverers and caregivers, continued to endure starvation wages. An understanding seemed to emerge that if their numbers thinned, an already en masse health crisis would significantly broaden. And yet, one year after social media bristled over food deliverers being exploited on the front lines of the virus, and days after SCOTUS paved the way to criminalize abortions and miscarriages, a Door Dash worker was shot by police, thereby putting the essential worker ‘back in his place’ of disposability.


Such categories of non-status, “hyper-exploited” or “informal” work, as Maria Mies and others have called them, have been barred from the “worker” definition because tasks that were historically assigned to the bodies associated with motherhood are conferred the same lack of prestige imposed onto those who raise or bear children. Even in contexts that talk about subsistence or workers rights, childbearing, domestic labor and multiple forms of informal labor are still not given minimal protections, or even (until recently) sufficient language for describing thankless conditions of work that are, as a matter of course, unacknowledged, erased, and gaslit.

The existence of a femmes, reproductive, and “housewifized” labor form is an historical reality, not a “natural” one. Although biology is largely founded on the idea that only some bodies bear children, the division of labor that surrounds reproduction is a product of historical and social relations; it is not a “natural” condition. That said, the appearance of ‘natural’ gender grants the authority to exploit gendered bodies as a site of experimentation towards the blueprint for mass violence, slavery and trafficking. Mass disposability is a consequence of the decimation of bodily autonomy.

If definitions of the ‘wage-worthy’ have been narrowly defined, then so has value. The war in Ukraine has also posed a considerable threat to the stability of the idea of value. National entities and representatives are currently pouring enormous sums of capital into visions of how future East/West European and world borders will be shaped. Where Russia follows a regime of sacrificing humanity for an abstract border, the West describes and re-describes the value of the human. Whether or not the ‘human’ is truly a concern for Western governing entities or merely a form of propaganda that veils the preservation of future accumulation remains to be seen, but the discourse itself has a public and social effect that has generated many formal policy-making discussions that involve accepting financial losses in the name of boycotts.

It would not be obstreperous to imagine that between the recently circulating iteration of essential labor under covid and the boycott of previously advantageous business deals with Russia, the global socius might be exhibiting a tendency towards evolving away from living and thinking the numerical values of money in the “normal,” linear or historically predictable sense. Even the possibility of such a development represents an unprecedented threat to entities that thrive on and continue to demand unbridled powers of accumulation.


In 1847, when Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in three weeks, he was commissioned by The Communist League, formerly The League of the Just, a group that was largely composed of guild worker artisans. One of the effects of this influential context is that “worker” in many texts still conjures images of White male woodworkers, bricklayers, stair builders and the like. The conditions of the creation of the Manifesto implicate a transition from the relative leverage that skilled guild artisan labor had against capital to the ‘worker hands’ who were tools of production, disposable, unskilled or de-skilled, and stripped of autonomy. Marx’s iteration of the “worker,” forged via a commission by reasonably nervous White male artisans as an expression of their fear of being instrumentalized as cogs, may well have supplied the material for a Right-wing contingent to abuse, in order to construct itself as the “authentic” worker body. This trace of relatively privileged artisans speaking on behalf of a much broader constituent of workers, in a kind of Napoleonic move according to Marx’s own early construction of the idea of class, re-appears in a mutilated and weaponized version in Steve Bannon’s view that the US remains an exploited colony of Europe in which only American-born White men need to be expressed by the “worker” notion. Entitlements to this definition are obviously at the catastrophic expense of others who perform other kinds of work including more essential and more socially occluded forms. The kinds of entitlements Bannon and other such figures easily reference have produced “replacement theory” and its accompanying gun violence, human abuses at borders, and violence in places structured towards xenophobia, as well as other sectors that have copyrighted authenticity in a multitude of dimensions, including but not limited to the arts, i.e., the masculinized elitism of “artistic technique” and so on.

That terms like “sex work” still require the qualifier “sex” in order to be inserted into the category of “work” testifies to an order of ‘true’ workers that obfuscate marginalized laborers and labor forms. Similarly, the work of slave labor in the 18th and 19th centuries, much of it domestic, was not seen as tool-bearing, which is one of the stipulations associated with what defines masculine labor against the feminine embodied labor that Maria Mies analyzed in the 1980s according to “work with the breasts and the womb.” Similarly, the idea of ‘slave’ is constructed as not a person who works, but as an inanimate tool of production in and of themselves, and is as such written out of the labor definition, with these practices carried into the present in prisons, unpaid overtime and the charge of laziness; an accusation that erases the possibility that a person with physical needs, such as sleep, or a psyche is connected to a body that is supposed to magically produce value for someone else without a personal or labor process. In “One is Not Born a Woman”, Monique Wittig links slave labor with gendered labor, arguing that the construction of gendered biology, including assumptions of ‘nurture’ projected onto childbearing bodies, produce invisibility and non-personhood in order to garner and quietly profit from the free labor value of the erased.

Meanwhile, the authentic, normative, standardized idea of “worker” produces a logic through which economies continue to deprive embodied workers, including starving artists, caregivers and others, of both wages and the dignity of personhood. In sum, a White male class to whom such historical texts referred retains a grip over the notion of ‘worker’ while others labor ‘outside’ or ‘behind’ the text and thus the historical and social. However, this recent attention given to essential work during lockdown highlights the possibility of re-distributing value within a regime in which value and visibility are intrinsically enmeshed.


The US Supreme Court majority now seeks to more intensively enforce the withdrawal and sanctioning of personhood of the exploited and unremunerated worker, of which one foundational category is the childbearer, and also those whose bodies are theoretically capable of bearing children but may choose not to birth. Much has been written about “back alley” abortions, and the many who have other talents and contributions but will be forced to become mothers and do the work of motherhood, laboring at domestic work without remuneration, and submitting to exploitative work in order to survive. Meanwhile those bodies who reject motherhood will be submitted to consequences that have been ‘updated’ by increased surveillance in the form of any number of high technology wars, mass violence, increased stalking, empowered white supremacist cells, and general forms of social pressure that can ensure the sanctioning of those who do not submit to norms complicit within patriarchal legitimacy. The surrounding structures that socially and institutionally police bodies are far more forceful today than they were when the constitution was written. And since then, multiple disciplines and fields of psychoanalysis and biology have naturalized hetero-procreation as the mandatory center of life, from Freud and Darwin to reddit discussion that anthropomorphize the natural world in terms of the procreative habits of varying species, and ‘riff’ on what “natural” gendered behavior should be according to imperializing whims.

The spectacle of misogyny in the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas several decades prior, including the “innocence” campaign waged by Johnny Depp or the general possibility of defamation and non-disclosure agreements for high profile rapists, form but a few of the exemplary chains of formal signs with increasing powers of social composition.

Making abortion less accessible will further conscript women into fields of invisible and unpaid labor, making childbearer bodies vulnerable to raising children at whichever level of poverty the State sanctions. The State has already realized billions of dollars in value in the unpaid labor of childbearers enduring toil in the name of “labors of love,” as well as the exploitative work of reproductive bodies coerced into states of desperation, as Sylvia Federici has pointed out. In her terms, profit from women’s unpaid and exploited labor, including but not limited to the production of future populations of workers, has been used to feed war machines, thereby moulding social reality into ever more virulent patriarchal forms.


In Caliban and the Witch, Federici argues that these conditions are both historical and intentional: it was cheaper for the Catholic Church, who was for centuries the main land and wealth holder in Europe, to pay only a male laborer rather than the family supporting him. The Church thus organized the family unit and laws pertaining to the body, including marriage, accordingly. This meant that the wives of man-laborers, the people performing maintenance (food production and preparation, childcare, care for the sick and elderly, mental support) as support for the productivity of their wage-receiving husbands, and also caregiving, material tasks, and the work of the body involved in producing the next generation of workers, would never receive their own wage. By being naturalized into biology, the law-holding theistic institution that operated as the main boss and master, created an exploitation economy that has sprawled outward to consume almost all informal and marginalized labor forms. The production of a culture of silence around forced birth and all of the fallout that will follow for the lives of apparently ‘capable’ childbearing bodies will also have consequences across the entire informal labor economy, and for all genders therein.

In Federici’s account, the Church responded to the scarcity of workers in Europe as a result of the Plague by producing policies to benefit the maintenance of church properties and functions that required a plethora of human capital, and thus a social reality built on procreation. In order to create this economy of its own self-interest, the Church walled off common lands that had previously been used for autonomous food production, and created laws around sex, sodomy (ie non-procreative sex) and childbirth. This counter revolution over decades finally managed to force into submission a heretic movement of people who lived relatively more similarly to the so-called autonomies of current life in atheistic and non-fundamentalist contexts.

The Gutenberg Bible emerged to popularize, naturalize and sacralize the family unit and heterosexual marriage, to construct childbearing as the center of social reality in order to enforce procreation and therein the production of human capital.

Abortion has never been fully sanctioned or supported in the US. And yet, given the recent visibility of workers who served to protect and maintain life in the context of the pandemic, it seems no accident that the traditionalists further sanction the life necessities of bodies in this moment of the coronavirus, in which normally invisible forms of labor, including the toil of the body and the costs to the body in health and vitality, are being obviated. Such a sea change in what constitutes valuable and remunerable work would threaten the very basis of the profiteering economy. Moreover, the Church’s protocols, laws and doctrines that produced imperialization over the body, from the walling (‘hedging’) off of common lands to the sodomy laws to the mandate of ‘a marriage between a man and a woman,’ enforced domestic labor and forced birth, were all created during the plague; in the wake of an ebb of labor power in the context of mass death, illness and a worker re-thinking of the value of life over toil and submission. The historical reality of the plague bears similarities to the conditions produced by covid. The pandemic has intensified fundamentalist logic and brought to the fore the 500-800 year old period in which the Church began to realize its need for labor power/workers by re-organizing all elements of economy and a mutually composing social reality, including the relations of production of the present and the reproductive body as the key to controlling the labor relations of the future, especially the unborn worker. According to Federici, racism and misogyny also had to be created in order to keep laborers from uniting in protest, and people with wombs from controlling the future worker population, not only in number but also in temperament.

The fundamentalism that sees reproduction as profit in the form of unborn laborers is not interested in the personhood of women. Neither healthcare nor consent matter or are considered the responsibility or in the interest of the Christian State. While non-fundamentalist views understand forced birth as fiscally catastrophic as a result of what a multi-dimensional influx of traumatized bodies will cost, the traditionalists have a totally different calculation of profit, a different understanding of labor power, and of human aim. The fundamentalist algorithm of accumulation and functionality excise factors that non-fundamentalists find essential. It’s because of a calculation that ignores State responsibility for human life, leading to institutionalized rape and death and privation for religious aims, that even the most dogmatically capitalist arguments that are non-fundamentalist can find no equivalence or commensurability or appeal even along the most material or profiteering lines.


Bodies with the capacity to bear children are not responsible for the fact that they are fetishized for sexual abuse across the globe. Along with the elderly, people with disabilities and children, (all of whom are being raped in the Ukraine along with a program that targets everyone), people who get pregnant will suffer an increase in long term material consequences. What emerges in the next 20 years in Poland and the US after rape victims have been forced to bear the children of extreme trauma will shed light on the catastrophe such policies produce. One can only hope that the children of trauma and forced birth will not be compliant in perpetuating such a regime in the future, and that being born out of trauma will produce for them an alternative rather than static vision for the future.

Poland’s forced birth program is directly relevant to the US situation because, in the few States that offer rape exemptions, making use of them will be predicated on the safety of coming forward. A social reality that does not permit abortion is unlikely to provide a safe environment for rape victims to become vocal. Forced birth will strengthen masculine power by making sexual relations higher stakes and by making rape into a more lasting form of abuse, offering the rapist long term control of his victim. By re-instating a culture of shame, and by enforcing the mother role, the family unit, silent suffering and a rigid social experience will bring the capacity to ‘breathe’ well beneath the minimum at which it currently functions.

Women who are rape victims in particular along with any other abortion seekers have not consented to life with a child. The ruling is a crucial violation of life. Those who cannot abort are likely not to have the means or the mental and physical ability for such a life. Within the context of trauma, the State has an opportunity to steer the fate of children too damaged to perform any but the most exploitative labor, to also hyper-exploit mothers living in a state of desperation, or a subsequent population cut off from its familial culture by trauma, to untether and unmoor subjects in order to make them afresh as productive labor aka potential “tabula rasa” for State purposes. In this context, social networks will be necessary to help traumatized children withstand being alive as critical readers rather than menial cogs, and to create collectives of belonging that hold them away from a violent fate of disposability masquerading as depression, ideation or religious fundamentalism.

Materialist feminists have long observed that calculations of demographics place statistics of predicted pregnancies in relation to immigrant influx and other controls pertaining to material economy. Policies relating to abortion and what social discourse shames or encourages, and how that is engineered across forms of current media or in more historical or medieval forms of advertising, are generally steered by how heads of State require a work force or allocate resources. These practices of analysis for the purpose of policy are not dissimilar to the ideology of war in which the body and the human are subjugated for abstract experiments based on human predictions with unknown outcomes.


The US has long fought over abortion as one of the last frontiers of bodily autonomy after what were reintroduced later as ‘rights,’ separated, severed, alienated via preciousness, specificity and class selection, and annihilated in Europe before the Enlightenment. In recent decades, the US holds immigrants at borders as it “processes them” while making considerations about whether to let them in based on demographics. If a class of mostly Black and Brown people too poor to travel to liberal States for abortions is forced to reproduce, the US can shut down its borders without losing out on the global competition for human capital.

Maria Mies summarized how programs such as forced birth are only limited to being misogynistic at their beginning. She wrote extensively on how bodies that have the capacity to bear children were targeted for the State’s experiments in exploitation, to be implemented later in different forms across broader swaths of population. Every non-capital owning body should become aware that policies of forced birth foreshadow an oncoming onslaught of aggression by owners of capital that will produce more categories of intensively exploited labor, that are likely to effect even privileged classes of the iterated White worker who meets the standard definition. It is here that ‘replacement theory’ must stand in as an alibi for the declining labor conditions of the heretofore relatively privileged White worker who uses this notion to retain a position as ‘the authentic’ as his own material stability crumbles.

I suggest that we turn to materialist feminism and its analysis of the evolution of gender constructs in relation to profit. For what Mies calls “time lag feminism,” or the body of work supporting the idea that women need to ‘catch up’ to men, or the idea of a linear history that ought to progress rather than ‘turn back’ can only yield short term gains in the endless tennis match that was designed by the Enlightenment to ensure that a regime of personality cults, class and identity hierarchies remain static. The idea that women are a generation ‘behind’ men constitutes a kind of white feminism in which women seek to supplant men in a machine that is built by imperializing desires and values.

Analyses might henceforth begin with the understanding that traditions are not going to protect the people they promise to exclude. The labor movements of the left must begin to take gender and reproduction much more seriously as intrinsic to how accumulation and profiteering maintain themselves, placing at the fore the understanding that reproduction is future labor power. Consent is also a crucial barometer for how to resist the historical and ideological imperialization with which the church has had a long-term agenda for recomposing a brutally disciplined and imperializing social reality. Consent literally checks in with the habitability of the body as well as its psychic and immaterial requirements.

Any movement that fails to understand that the battle to own and commandeer reproduction is the battle to own the labor, profit and accumulation of the future, and any movement that fails to understand the nuanced relationship between exploitation and consent is doomed to not only fail, but to play into the hands of imperial reality ad infinitum.

(Thanks to Cedrik Fermont for our conversations pertaining to the fact that every sexual identity has been raped in Ukraine, and the impact of abortion law in Poland for childbearing bodies.)

(By Dora Bleu)

(Image Credit: Caliban and the Witch)

Hope in a time of choler: Sierra Leone, Kenya, Antigua and Barbuda

Mothers and children in Sierra Leone, with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world

In streets and legislatures as well as in representations in news and social media, from Hungary to India to Brazil to Zimbabwe to the United States and beyond and between, these are trying times in which a threat of totalitarianism looms around us. Welcome to July 2022, where, on one hand, the Thunderdome continues to dominate our attention, but it’s not all gloom and doom. These are grim times. But they are not without hope. There is light, there is real and serious opposition in the Thunderdome. Consider the news this past week from Sierra Leone, Kenya, Antigua and Barbuda.

In Sierra Leone this week, President Julius Maada Bio and his cabinet announced their unanimous support for the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act which would decriminalize abortion, expand access to contraceptives, post-abortion care and other reproductive health services. On one hand, the support is important in and of itself for women and girls in Sierra Leone and beyond. At the same time, support for the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act is seen as part of the process of decolonization. The current law dates from 1861, during the English occupation of what became Sierra Leone. As President Bio pointedly noted, “At a time when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are either being overturned or threatened, we are proud that Sierra Leone can once again lead with progressive reforms. My government has unanimously approved a safe motherhood bill that will include a range of critical provisions to ensure the health and dignity of all girls and women of reproductive age in this country.” Sierra Leone joins Benin, which legalized abortion last year.

In March 2022 a High Court in Malindi, in Kenya, found abortion related arrests to be illegal. “The court noted that abortion care is a fundamental right under the Constitution of Kenya and that protecting access to abortion impacts vital Constitutional values, including dignity, autonomy, equality, and bodily integrity. It also ruled that criminalizing abortion under Penal Code without Constitutional statutory framework is an impairment to the enjoyment of women’s reproductive right”

This week, still in Kenya, Justice Okong’o Samson Odhiambo, appearing before the Judicial Service Commission during the Court of Appeal judges interviews, when asked about his views on abortion, responded, “My personal view is that people have the freedom to decide on what to do with their lives.”

Meanwhile, in Antigua and Barbuda this week, the High Court struck down a colonial-era law banning same-sex acts between consulting adults. The case was brought before the court by Orden David, an openly gay man; and Women Against Rape. High Court Judge Marissa Robertson ruled, “The right to privacy extends beyond the right to be left alone and includes the concept of dignity of the individual, aspects of physical and social identity, and the right to develop and establish relationships with other human beings.” Alexandrina Wong, President of Women Against Rape, agreed, noting “We are very much hoping the Antigua ruling will prompt other legal systems in the Caribbean to review their laws and policies, and how they impact on vulnerable populations.” Lucien Govaard, Co-Chair of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities, added, “We reiterate that it is time governments in the region let go of these colonial structures as they have no place in a modern, diverse, and developing the Caribbean.” According to the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, ECADE, three more Caribbean national courts will decide on similar cases by the end of 2022: St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados.

The struggle for expansion of rights, decolonization, respect for human dignity is regional, transnational, and global. This week, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Antigua and Barbuda shine the light. It is time, way past time, governments, nation-State, societies, people let go of colonial structures.

A rainbow in Antigua


(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit 1: AfricaNews) (Photo Credit 2: LGBTQ Nation)

To Keep the Poor Poor…and Working






The Supreme Court’s ruling, effectively dismantling Roe v. Wade and setting precedence that will roll back hard-won rights for minorities, women, and LGBTQ people was not a surprise. Documents that leaked before the ruling all but insured that Roe would not make it to the end of my lifetime, but still, the decision was read with the same emotions and feelings…









I am tired. I’m so tired. And I know, that organizing is a long and arduous process, full of losses and set back-with the endgame being victory. But I am tired. And I’M PISSED


This has never been about protecting the sanctity of life. Historically abortion bans have never been about being pro-life, or about morality, or about anything that pertains to protecting the unborn or whatever a fetus is called in the eyes of hypocrites.


Abortion bans started in this country because of an influx of Catholic immigrants, striking fears about a Protestant minority (Comstock Laws). Abortion bans and controlling women’s sexuality have been about chattel slavery, creating an influx of enslaved black people when the slave trade was shut down.


Abortion and contraceptive bans were NOT stringently enforced when women had to replace men as laborers in the World Wars.


I wonder why?


And lastly, abortion bans pre-Roe were about a return of those men from war, and a forcing of women out of the workforce and back into where America thinks they belong-in the home, under patriarchal power.


We all know banning abortion doesn’t stop abortions. We know that abortion bans are one next step to beginning to ban contraceptive. And Covid highlighted the reason abortion bans and contraceptive bans are being reintroduced. FUCK, even those assholes in positions of power know. They’re not stupid-they’re pure evil.


It’s all about creating and sustaining an influx of those in positions of poverty.


Childbirth for people is about a descent into poverty. Raising children is expensive. Forcing people to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth without any insurance (a more than $20,000 bill), raise them without universal childcare, with no living wage, almost guarantees a pool of workers that can be exploited.


And given that poor people and workers were hardest hit during Covid-19 (they DIED), it’s more necessary to make sure there are people that can work low wage jobs. We do not have enough labor power to replace the aging population.




The mistresses and wives of the people who struck down Roe—and are stamping on its ashes—will still be able to get abortions. They’ll be able to afford a ticket out of the state or, if a national ban is implemented (which it sure as fuck sounds like), a plane ride first class to another country.


Poor people, people of color, and queer people will be harmed the most from this loss.


But really, isn’t that what the Supreme Court wanted?





(By Nichole Smith)

(Image Credit 1: Simone Noronha / NBC) (Image Credit 2: by Raffaele Ciotola: Saatchi Art)

The spectacularly ordinary and vicious cruelty of the Supreme Court’s Gang of Six

A gang of six, with a stroke of a pen, condemned women in the United States to a world of second class, if that, `citizenship’; increased maternal mortality; peril and precarity. When patriarchy rules supreme, cruelty is the point, in this case masquerading as Constitutional concern, even when the Constitution is grossly misread. It’s a femicidal program, and pogrom, as old as patriarchy and capitalism, as Silvia Federici  noted twenty years ago, when she argued that the great witch hunts of Europe and then of the colonies, including the United States, focused on women’s reproductive knowledges and capacities in a campaign of degradation of women: “In the `transition from feudalism to capitalism’ women suffered a unique process of social degradation that was fundamental to the accumulation of capital and has remained so ever since.”

The United States has the highest maternal mortality of any so-called developed country. In 2018, the maternal mortality rate was 17.4 per 100,00 live births; in 2019, 20.1, in 2020, it was 23.8. At the time, 17.4 was considered astronomical, compared to national comperes. It was. 23.8 is criminal. For non-Hispanic Black people, the maternal mortality rates for those three years are 37.3, 44.0, 55.3, respectively. The recent decision will only intensify this situation, raising maternal mortality rates, already critical and criminal, precipitously. According to one study, a nationwide ban would raise maternal mortality rates by 21%. It would raise maternal mortality rates among non-Hispanic Black people by 33%. This decision merges Witch Hunt with Jane Crow, with altogether predictable consequences of increased mortality, intensified control, devastation, immiseration. Women, and especially women of color, will become refugees in their own lands and their own bodies. As Federici noted, again, the degradation of women is always forced through programs of privatization, in which women are separated from land, home, community, body, self.

The Economic Consequences of Being Denied an Abortion”, published in 2020, brings the impact of denied access to abortion home … literally. Debts increase by 78%, bankruptcy and eviction increase by 81%: “Women who were denied an abortion experience a large increase in financial distress that is sustained for several years … We find evidence that being denied an abortion has large and persistent negative effects on a woman’s financial well-being. Women denied an abortion experience a significant increase in financial distress during the year that they give birth. Unpaid debts that are 30 or more days past due more than double in size, and the number of public records, which include negative events such as evictions and bankruptcies, increases substantially. This financial impact extends…up to four years after the birth year …. The impact of being denied an abortion on collections is as large as the effect of being evicted and the impact on unpaid bills is several times larger than the effect of losing health insurance …. Denying a woman an abortion reduces her credit score by more than the impact of a health shock resulting in a hospitalization or being exposed to high levels of flooding following Hurricane Harvey.”

The impact on women, children, communities, generally, and even more on Black and Brown women, children, communities is known. There’s no mystery here, and no misprision of either the Constitution or of a sense of humanity can be allowed to cloud the issue. Along with the immediate violence visited upon women’s bodies, lives, dreams, the long-term impact built into a ban on abortions is eviction and homelessness; severe reduction of access to education, health care, social services; increasing inequality; more deaths, more debts.

Yet again we encounter the ordinary, everyday cruelty of necropower: “In our contemporary world, weapons are deployed in the interest of maximum destruction of persons and the creation of death-worlds, new and unique forms of social existence in which vast populations are subjected to conditions of life conferring upon them the status of living dead.” Cruelty is the point.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Image Credit: Caliban and the Witch)