Philadelphia abortion rights march shows strong future for organizing and solidarity
Callum Wilson / People's World

PHILADELPHIA—After the overturn of Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, socialist organizers in Philadelphia seized the moment to build solidarity and show dissent toward the right-wing Supreme Court majority.

A broad coalition of socialist and progressive organizations, which included members of the Philadelphia chapters of the Communist Party (CPUSA) and the Young Communist League, marched through the streets for what was called an “Emergency Protest” in response to the dismantling of the historic 1973 court decision.

The route of the march went around City Hall and then down Market Street to Independence Park at Sixth Street and Market for nearly a mile.

Working Families Party city councilwoman Kendra Brooks and progressive Democratic city councilwoman at-large Helen Gym were among the speakers at the rally. Many of those who took to the podium pointed out the need for a change in society driven by socialist feminism. Some speakers took the Democratic Party to task for what they deemed as “flat-footedness and hesitation” that helped to bring the country to this moment. There were also mentions of the interconnected nature of the current reactionary, conservative movement in the Republican Party and throughout the country.

One could argue that we are seeing a rise of what has been called “Christo-fascism,” that is fascism of color and tone uniquely bound to U.S. Christianity, especially among the ethno-nationalist Evangelical movement that has grown in prominence over the last half-century. While the speakers did not use the phrase “Christo-fascism” to name a culprit, they did point out the interrelated nature of all the forms of marginalization and oppression in U.S. society, coming from the symbiotic relationship between capitalism and patriarchy.

Some speakers argued that the rollback of the rights Americans have secured under the Constitution is due to capitalism’s need to have a steady stream of surplus labor to keep building their wealth and to allow for the suppression of wages and mistreatment of workers.

In Philadelphia, for the most part, protesters were not met with the kind of police violence that was seen in other areas of the country. Police fired teargas against protesters in Arizona. In Los Angeles, the Department of Homeland Security was deployed, and cops were seen throwing actress Jodie Sweeten to the ground. In South Carolina, six people were arrested as anti-abortion and pro-choice protesters met in downtown Greenville. In New York City, more than a dozen people were arrested for blocking traffic during a protest. Before all of that, Washington riot police arrived outside of the Supreme Court in the early afternoon.

As many commentators have pointed out, Roe v. Wade—while known primarily as an abortion case—also extends to privacy in general. And Justice Clarence Thomas—whose wife Ginni Thomas advocated for the overturning of the 2020 election resultswrote in a concurring opinion that the Supreme Court should use this decision as a springboard to target other rights.

That includes 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects the right of couples to buy and use contraceptives without government restriction. In addition to reaffirming the right to privacy, Griswold set the precedent cited for the right to birth control (Eisenstadt v. Baird, 1972), the right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade, the right to contraception for people 16 years of age or older (Carey v. Population Services International, 1977), and the case which struck down Texas’s sodomy law (the also-mentioned Lawrence v. Texas, 2003).

It seems likely that we are treading into uncharted waters, but the anti-police violence protests of 2020 showed that the American people have not forgotten how to speak out and stand up for themselves. As contradictions in liberal capitalism become more apparent, more lives will be directly affected. The time for solidarity is now. In Philadelphia and elsewhere, the rise of class consciousness through understanding the interconnected nature of these oppressive policies and ideologies can lead to greater change.

Broadly speaking, in these tumultuous times, it is now a regular occurrence to see people mobilize quickly to speak out against the oppressive forces of the state and the violence of constricting human bodily autonomy. While marching through the streets of the city does not spontaneously reverse the Supreme Court decision, the continued presence of public dissent unites the people under a common cause to understand that we have numbers, and therefore power, in a country which claims to be founded on the principle of popular sovereignty.

In Philadelphia, there were people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds among the marchers, which also means all levels of political education and worldviews were present. The Supreme Court, and therefore the U.S. government at large, is having a crisis of legitimacy. They further undermine that legitimacy by restricting people’s bodily autonomy and right to an abortion. The thousands of people who took to the streets to demand change and push back against this crisis show a strong future for organizing and solidarity.


Kevin Fox Jr.
Kevin Fox Jr.

Freelance writer for games, movies, tech, comedy, and TV.