New Yorkers responded with unbridled furor Tuesday to the apparently leaked draft suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court is about to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Thousands of fuming New Yorkers descended upon Foley Square on the evening of May 3 with contempt for lawmakers who could be set to send abortion rights back to the dark ages. Decrying the move many are calling a human rights violation, protesters roared at legislation that could bring back-alley abortions back to the forefront.
Demonstrators began filling in just before 5 p.m. with only one thing on their minds: How is this happening?
Emma moved from Canada to the United States in 2016, and since then she has noted freedom after freedom, has been slowly taken away. However, the news of Roe v. Wade being overturned upset her so much so that she walked for three hours from Uptown Manhattan down to Foley Square so that her voice could be heard.
“I guess first and foremost. I tried,” Emma said, her voice cracking as tears began to well in her eyes. “I can say that I tried just to be a voice just to feel like I did something. I can’t believe we’re in 2022 and this is what we’re dealing with. Just the compounding crisis on top of crisis. This just felt kind of like the thing that I believe should get everybody in the streets if they weren’t moved by all of the other injustices that have been occurring. I just, I don’t know I wanted to be here and I wanted to be a part of it. And if nothing else, just I guess, to say that I tried at the end of the day and for whatever little it’s worth that I showed up. Sitting in my house this morning, I just didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t maybe gonna go back to bed and then I just started walking and I came down here and I guess to be around other people who are equally as upset to find solace, to find the good, to find the people still fighting the good fight.”
Holding onto a cardboard with a picture of a coat hanger, Emma, like many others at the rally, believes that this decision is a step backwards, encouraging back door abortions and perpetuating a health crisis.
Grace Ortiz works in a high school, and she found herself trying desperately trying to contain her composure when she learned about the Supreme Court’s potential decision.
“I just feel like it’s absolutely insane that we’re going back in time and not progressing forward it’s horrible that it’s our body and you know mostly men have a say is absolutely insane,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz also stated that this is just the beginning, with states like Florida enforcing “Don’t say gay,” she believes that more human rights will be affected by restrictive legislation.
“Well, we’ve heard of this decision that’s coming down that could affect millions of people. You know, here in New York City. This is exactly why we tried to pray and preempt what we saw coming down and establishing the nation’s first abortion access fund, and municipalities across the nation has to do this now,” said Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “We have to make sure that we’re providing services that we’re supporting people and that we know that they can come to New York City because it’s a safe place where they can seek care and because abortion care is health care. I’m I’m actually quite moved and I feel good about where we’re going this morning. I was late last night I felt devastated. And now seeing everyone here supporting, you know, equal rights, human rights. It really is uplifting.”
“There’s no way to have a democracy without gender equity, and there’s no gender equity without bodily autonomy, and that means reproductive rights, and that’s why we’re out here. Fighting right now,” added New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “Look, it’s gonna take a massive movement all over the country. This is encouraging but what we need if the Supreme Court is going to understand a strong majority of Americans favor abortion rights, if the Senate is going to understand that a strong majority of Americans favor abortion rights. And politicians are going to wake up then Americans all over the country are going to have to turn out in enormous numbers and that’s why we’re getting started right now.”
“We’re really fortunate living in New York which is a liberal state. But there’s so many places throughout the country where women’s healthcare is so inaccessible in this country, and people are not in positions to get safe health care,” said Keisha Castle Hughes, 32, an actress originally6 from New Zealand who lives in Manhattan. “This isn’t going to lead to abortions not being performed, it just leads to them not being available in a healthy, safe way. Which immediately affects people’s lives very dangerously.”
Kathryn Garcia stated on behalf of Governor Hochul: “What we see in the United States is we’re rolling back. But in the state of New York, we’re going in the opposite direction.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said at the rally that the state is launching a fund to pay for abortions and travel for anyone from red states where it’s illegal.
“Republicans cannot talk freedom on one hand and take away our freedom on the other,” said James. “We will not go backwards, we will not go back into those days when we used wire hangers, not now, not ever. I will not allow Justice Alito or any justice of the United States Supreme Court to dictate to me or to you how you can use your body, my future, my destiny. It’s not in the hands of the United States Supreme Court — it’s in ours.”
James also noted that she got an abortion back when she was first elected to council. “No apologies,” James added.
First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo spoke on behalf of Mayor Eric Adams, but was roundly booed by the crowd.