For immediate release: May 04, 2022
Members of GABRIELA LA and allies attend the “Defend Roe v. Wade” emergency action
at Pershing Square, Downtown LA on May 3rd, 2022.
LOS ANGELES – GABRIELA Los Angeles, a chapter of the progressive international Filipino women’s grassroots organization, condemns the U.S. Supreme Court leaked majority decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood – a move that would endanger millions of women and pregnant people across the country. The SCOTUS’s attempt to eliminate these protections exposes the truly violent and anti-democratic nature of our government institutions, which repeatedly prioritize profit and militarization over the lives and welfare of the people.
The Philippines is a clear example of what will happen to pregnant people in a country that denies people’s basic right to bodily autonomy. For the last century, the Philippine government has enforced a complete criminal ban on abortion, resulting in 1000 women dying each year from unsafe abortion– a rate twice as high as the U.S. maternal mortality rate. Abortion patients and providers can be jailed for up to 6 years. These harms fall disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable of our Filipina sisters, while almost 70% of wealthy Filipinos find access to safe, modern abortion methods.
Women’s rights activists like GABRIELA members Jenelyn Nagrampa, Cora Agrovida, and Gertrudes Libang who advocate for people’s rights and demand access to healthcare are routinely labeled terrorists and subjected to state surveillance, falsified charges, and illegal arrests. In the worst cases, President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime sanctions the murders of health advocates like community health worker Elegyn Balonga, one of the countless slain victims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. These systematic attacks against women’s rights and activists are made possible with the support of U.S. taxpayer dollars under the guise of a “war on terrorism” and “war against insurgency.”
Our struggles as Filipinos within the U.S. are interlinked with the struggles of the Philippines. Abortion is already functionally inaccessible to millions of people in the U.S. due to clinic closures and targeted laws that have eroded reproductive rights. Senate Bill 8 and the copycat bills being introduced in states like Ohio, Arizona, and South Dakota that deputize private citizens to prosecute anyone who helps people seeking abortion care are just the latest attempts to replicate the persecution of Filipino abortion-seeking people, providers, and activists in the U.S.
The U.S. attempt to control reproductive autonomy also encompasses violent judgments on who should be able to reproduce. Reports in Georgia of the unlawful and nonconsensual hysterectomies perpetrated on immigrants in I.C.E. detention facilities and those witnessed by Filipina migrant, Alma Bowman, underscore the state’s involvement in obstructing the reproductive rights of the poor, BIPOC, and migrants. The actions of these U.S. institutions show us time and again that they are anti-people and have no regard for human life.
As GABRIELA, we assert that the issues affecting Filipina women, from femicide and sexual violence to the lack of contraceptive and abortion access, are rooted in capitalism and U.S. imperialism. While we must fight to protect abortion rights now, ultimately, the solution is putting an end to a profit-driven system controlled by the few wealthy U.S. bureaucrats with corporate interests. The fact that the power to eliminate these protections for millions of people rests in the hands of a few unelected members with lifelong appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court shows that we do not have a genuine democracy at all, but a dictatorship of the ruling elite. Their decision to criminalize abortion and anyone assisting or advocating for body autonomy supplements their desire to increase funding for policing and systems of imprisonment.
The systems that exploit those who experience gender-based violence here are the same systems at work across the world. To build a society of justice, we must not only uplift the stories and struggles of our sisters abroad, like in the Philippines, but to continue to build community power, class solidarity, and organize our families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to fight for gender liberation across borders.
GABRIELA LA is a grassroots organization of Filipinas serving in the Los Angeles community to address the rights and welfare of women through education, organizing, campaigns, and cultural work. We strive to build a mass movement recognizing that the problems Filipina women face are linked to the root problems of the Philippines.