People from across the World’s Borough rallied at Queens Borough Hall in solidarity with residents in Texas restricting abortion rights on Saturday, Oct. 2.
The rally was just one out of more than 600 events taking place nationwide, where tens of thousands of people marched in all 50 states against the Texas abortion law, SB8.
SB8 bans abortions once medical professionals detect a heartbeat, which is usually around six weeks into pregnancy, and makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The rally in Queens, organized by Danielle Brecker and Melissa Bair, focused on calling for expanded abortion access in New York State and demanding legislation from the federal government to protect abortion rights across the nation.
More than a hundred people showed up on Saturday morning, a turnout they were more than happy with.
“You never know with New York, because it’s a safe state, this isn’t a pressing issue here,” Brecker said. “We’re in a different time than we were four years ago, but everyone came out and they were ready to fight this and do whatever we need to protect our rights, be it New York or in another state.”
Activists, health care experts and city and state elected officials also joined in on the rally, giving speeches covering different facets of the issue.
“We were able to have one very big message built by a lot of different messages pulled together, so people can take that home with them and hopefully find where they can act to change things,” Brecker said.
Government leaders spoke to the public about what can be done, from legislation at the federal level to expanded access at the state level.
“With reproductive rights under attack in our country, it is more important than ever to do all we can to protect them,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “The Texas law, and other barriers that threaten the right to choose, are devastating for so many women and families. Whether in Texas or Queens, I stand with everybody across the nation fighting for reproductive freedom. All people deserve to make their own healthcare decisions.”
Health care professionals and activists tackled the urgency of the issue, many of whom called this not just a reproductive rights issue, but a health care issue and a democracy issue.
Melanie D’Arrigo, congressional candidate, National Organization for Women NY delegate and Medicare for All advocate, said that reproductive justice includes more than just abortion rights.
“While we are here to ensure that women, non-binary people and queer people always have the ability to obtain an abortion, this is also about fighting for sex education, free testing for STDs and mammograms, pre and post-natal care, access to contraceptives and access to healthcare in our communities,” D’Arrigo said. “This is about us having bodily autonomy and the resources we need to obtain the healthcare we need.”
Part of the reason Brecker and Bair wanted to have the rally was that they both felt too many residents were becoming complacent about the issue.
“We felt like if they’re taking reproductive rights away anywhere, any of our rights in New York are not safe,” Brecker said. “It’s important in Queens because we are the most diverse borough, and we have a lot of opportunities for people’s rights to be taken away. We can’t just sit by and let it happen just because it’s in a different state.”
While most of the rally’s participants were women, that didn’t stop Brecker from spotting a “Feminist Dad” t-shirt amongst the many men who did show up. Some residents even made it a family affair, bringing along their kids.
More than 110 organizations nationwide have joined forces to take part in the #RallyforAbortionJustice, organized by Women’s March, to show Americans’ support of Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
“The fight for reproductive rights has never been more essential,” Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris said. “While we succeeded in codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade in law in New York State, we have much work to do to oppose attacks against these basic freedoms across the country.”
The demonstrations in Queens and nationwide came just days before the Supreme Court was set to begin oral arguments about the law on Oct. 4, a term that will determine the future of abortion rights in the United States.