Why We Bowled: DSA-LA Demands Reproductive Justice

By members of our Healthcare Committee, Socialist Feminist Reading Group, and NOlympics Working Groups

On April 21, DSA-Los Angeles participated in the National Network of Abortion Funds Bowl-a-Thon at Pinz Bowling Center in Studio City. Our team, The Bowl-Sheviks, comprised of fifteen awesome women from our chapter (along with another awesome woman from the Bay Area), set a fundraising goal of $7000 to be met in one month and ended up raising an astounding $7826 thanks to their hard work and our awesome donors.

The event benefited ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, a California-based organization that does essential work to remove the barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare for women in the state. Through policy advocacy campaigns, a bilingual healthcare hotline, and their practical support network which aids women throughout California in obtaining safe abortions, ACCESS embodies their stated mission of “building the power of Californians to demand health, justice, and dignity.”

We understand that the legal right to abortion—which is safe and common—is meaningless if the procedure is inaccessible due to the exorbitant out-of-pocket costs required to exercise everyone’s fundamental right to body autonomy. Being able to decide when and whether to become a parent is key to freedom and justice. But our innate right to shape the direction of our own lives is fundamentally at odds with an economic system, capitalism, that prioritizes profit over people. As such, we demand a society that collectively builds the foundations for thriving families and communities and fully decommodifies family planning decisions. 

As socialist feminists, we are dedicated to more than upholding our constitutional reproductive rights, but ensuring available access to these rights, including affordable abortions that are safe and easily accessible. We don’t just pose a question as to whether one can pay for an abortion. We also ask: why should your ability to pay for child care influence your decision to have a child in the first place? Why should money be a barrier in terminating a pregnancy, or continuing it?

In a world that forces us to work to survive, why is the act of reproduction uncompensated, thereby economically privileging men and/or those who aren’t forced to do this work? Why does the unpaid labor to sustain a child, including feeding and bathing them, fall disproportionately on the backs of women, particularly working class women or women from the global south? Why is it that your boss can deny you access to birth control, anyway?

25% of women are insured as dependents to male partners. Women and non men should not be required to be married/in domestic partnerships in order to receive essential health services that impact their lives just as much, if not more when reproductive needs are taken into consideration.

These circumstances point to an important distinction between reproductive rights and reproductive justice. We fight for the latter, as we do not see human rights as something to be negotiated around, nor an issue which is up for debate. The Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser was one of many necessary steps required to ensure bodily autonomy for all people.