New York elected officials gathered at Planned Parenthood in Manhattan on Monday, Dec. 6, to call for reproductive justice as the Supreme Court decides the fate of abortion access in the country.
Abortion rights are on the chopping block as the Supreme Court scrutinizes Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and previously upholding Texas’ extremely restrictive, six-week abortion ban. Though New York has codified Roe v. Wade into state law with the Reproductive Health Act, representatives still gathered to advocate for women’s rights at the federal level.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney touted her background protecting reproductive rights and said she recently re-introduced her Access to Birth Control Act, which would guarantee access to contraception without delay and more than 100 Democrats signed already.
“Reproductive rights are no longer being chipped away at, they are being bulldozed straight into the ground,” Maloney said. “Women aren’t full citizens — and there is no democracy — if we can’t control our own bodies. The time for action — for a bold platform to fight back against this conservative assault on reproductive rights — is now. We must fight for reproductive justice by protecting and expanding access to abortion, birth control and all forms of reproductive health care.”
Gloria Steinem joined elected officials to speak to the basic rights she fought for in the 1960s and ’70s that are now being squandered.
“There are 23 full democracies in the world, and America is the only one that excludes women from the constitution,” Steinem said. “This is a global shame and the majority of Americans want and assume women in the constitution, but that won’t come true without the Equal Rights Amendment.”
The Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood in New York Gillian Dean said they intend to continue services for those who need it.
“No matter where they live, no one should have to leave their community to access abortion care,” Dean said. “As an abortion provider in NYC, I already see patients who travel from Texas and other states to access abortion. As we know, many people do not have the resources to travel for health care due to economic injustices and systemic racism.”
Dean also called on Congress to “be bold” and pass the Access to Birth Control Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee a statutory right to abortion care in the country.
State Senator Jessica Ramos mentioned that despite codifying Roe v. Wade in the state’s Reproductive Health Act, reproductive rights still have to be protected.
“When we finally won a true Democratic majority in the NYS Senate, New York was able to set a standard of leadership for the rest of the country, codifying Roe in the Reproductive Health Act,” Ramos said. “Now we have a majority in the House and Senate, a supermajority in the State Senate and Assembly, and a supermajority in the NYC Council. Defending reproductive justice and access to healthcare is not something we can delegate to one branch of government, it’s all of our responsibilities.”
Newly sworn-in City Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán said the fight for reproductive justice is about liberation and protecting, mainly women of color, from “coercion” and “control.”
“If banning abortions were about genuine care for human life, then the same people trying to take away our reproductive rights would also be fighting just as hard to give people the resources to parent,” Cabán said. “You can’t separate this fight from the Black mortality rate, the pipelines to mass incarceration and deportation. These are all reproductive justice issues. We need access to affirming, free and safe abortion care as a human right.”