Speech by Coco Das at abortion rights protest in Austin, TX August 6, 2022 |
An article came out this week with the title: A Very Dangerous Place to Be Pregnant is Getting Even Scarier.
That very dangerous place to be pregnant is Texas.
A doctor in Presidio serves a population with a median household income of $20,700, which is still above the threshold to be eligible for Medicaid, so many of his patients are uninsured. He has one sonogram machine, and then he has to explain to his pregnant patients that he can detect if they are pregnant but can’t do much else for them. He would send patients an hour and a half away to Big Bend, but for more than a year, Big Bend’s labor and delivery unit has been closing several days a week with little notice because of staff shortages. This is the only hospital in a 12,000 square mile area that delivers babies.
The article talks about the dangers to pregnant women. Uterine hemorrhages, dangerous post-partum spikes in blood pressure, and other life-threatening complications. The cost of maternity wards is high, and that has been a major reason maternity wards all over the country are closing in states that claim to be pro-life like Texas and Florida.
This state is the national leader in maternity ward closures, and the highest rate of uninsured residents because this state refuses to expand Medicaid eligibility. When a poor woman gets pregnant in Texas, she might not even be able to find a doctor to give her prenatal care or a hospital to help her deliver her baby.
And this country has the highest maternal mortality rate of the wealthy countries. In 2020, 861 women died because of pregnancy and childbirth and for every one of those deaths, another 70 women barely survived their pregnancies. In 2020, 60,270 women in this country suffered life threatening medical complications. And Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
So why, why with such a dismal record on maternal health is Texas so focused on banning abortion? Why has Ken Paxton spent his time suing the Biden administration arguing that Texas should not have to abide by a federal law that requires doctors to perform emergency procedures – including abortions – to save the life of a mother.
Because this state is run by Christian fundamentalist lunatics – by fascists who have used the mantle of Christianity to rise to power and consolidate their power. If they are not the physical descendants, they are the spiritual and moral descendants of the slave holders and segregationists who founded and dominated this state until the civil rights and liberation movements of the 60s. These white supremacist, woman and LGBTQ hating, xenophobic, fanatical theocrats have taken over the Texas GOP, and they are gleeful over the suffering and death of people in this state and let’s be real, even their own people can be sacrificed in the service of their cause.
What is fascism? It is a blatant form of dictatorship under this system – the system of capitalism-imperialism, that breaks with the way the system has been ruled through representative democracy. It relies on violence – the violence of the state and the violence of a vigilante base – to enforce its rule and consolidate power. It reaches into the country’s past, its prejudices, and its myths to advance a genocidal logic about who deserves to be treated like human beings and who does not. It is a complete remaking of society and government – tearing up the rule book and the norms of civil engagement, transforming the institutions and the laws, and spreading fear and hatred throughout society. And once it consolidates its power, what are supposed to be civil and democratic rights are eroded. It relies on your silence, your compliance, your fear, your retreat into your private lives, and your popular prejudices – most acutely the fear of the other and the fear of communists – these fascists are obsessed with communists – to prevent or wear away a coalition of the decent people to stop them. And there comes a time when the normal channels are not enough to stop them.
But this still begs the question of why. Why, when it is so dangerous and so out-of-step with modernity, is fascism on the rise in this state, this country, and the world?
These are the historic times we are living in. Increasingly the rulers of this system are divided over how to continue ruling. Increasingly they have no solutions to the problems of this system, which has outrun its usefulness to humanity and is actually leading humanity to the precipice of extinction. And while the Democrats are under the delusion that we can return to some kind of normal, the fascists see their way as the only resolution – to dispense with even the pretense of bourgeois democracy and restore the order through the total domination held by the “founders” of this country – the white, wealthy, Christian men to whom all others were subordinate and property, and yes this includes women. If you don’t believe me go and look at how some of these people talk, go to their chat rooms, read their policy papers, read Samuel Alito’s dark ages opinion on Dobbs and Roe. They say the only reason this country exists and is being held together by a thread right now is because of white men and the church, the oppressive traditional values that led the founding of this country. And they are willing to fight to the death for the restoration of THIS order. Abortion was a key battering ram and linchpin of a whole fascist program, but they are not done. We know they are on an accelerated path to going after the whole thing – to destroy voting rights, to destroy marriage equality, to eliminate LGBTQ people from society, to hurl women back into their “rightful” role as mothers and wives. Think about how much force and violence it will take for them to achieve this in the world that we have today. It is in the very dynamic that the seeds of their undoing take root. Their ultimate victory is no inevitable, and their rule is not permanent. They are powerful, but they are not all powerful.
We do not choose the times we live in. We do not choose when we are born. But we can choose how we act in this moment. We can choose if we are going to hand over the future of our children to these lunatics or if we are going to wage a fierce struggle for a whole different world, which IS possible and no one knows that better than these fascists.
The 21st Century American fascism is its own beast, but there are lessons from European fascism from the 30s and 40s. In Germany, as Hitler was consolidating the power of the NAZIS, forces that ran the gamut of the political spectrum underestimated them. The Weimar forces – the mainstream democratic parties – thought they could use the Nazis to control and eliminate the communists, and some communists raised the slogan After Hitler, then us – a deadly mistake considering the first people to fill the concentration camps were in fact communists. Let us learn from those errors, to unite all who can be united against these fascists in power, to spread the green wave of resistance for abortion rights and strengthen the fight for all of our rights. Let’s dig deeper into what is happening, why it’s happening, what it means for humanity and how we wrench a more positive future from this terrible situation. Let’s have fierce and principled debates about the system we live under and whether it can be reformed. Let’s refuse to be dragged down and distracted and thrown into despair. Our lives, the lives of millions, depend on the choices and opportunities we seize now. Yes, there is a terrible future to avert, but there is also a whole new world to win.