Several Queens leaders and members of abortion rights groups gathered at the steps outside Queens Borough Hall Tuesday, June 28, to denounce the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, as well as issue a call for action at both the state and federal levels to ensure that women have access to abortions and call upon citizens to vote during the day’s primaries in order to help ensure they are represented by people who have their interests in mind.
Among those who spoke at the rally were Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Deputy Borough President Ebony Young, Assembly members Jessica González-Rojas, Catalina Cruz and Andrew Hevesi and Council member Lynn Schulman.
Maryam Mohammed-Miller of Planned Parenthood, Mary Lou Greenberg of Choices Women’s Medical Center, Cecilia Venosta-Wiygul of the Center for Women of New York and Anjali Seegobin of the South Queens Women’s March also spoke during the rally.
Many of the speakers talked about the consequences that will almost certainly occur as a result of women no longer having guaranteed access to an abortion. They also emphasized how this ruling has a much greater impact on specific communities, including women of color and low-income people. Additionally, they called up the New York State Legislature to pass legislation that would protect the right to an abortion across the state.
“The Supreme Court’s decision highlights that the right to an abortion is not safe,” Mohammed-Miller said. “This is an attack on our right to body autonomy. One shouldn’t have to travel from Jackson, Mississippi, to Jackson Heights, Queens, for an abortion.”
Seegobin referred to Friday’s SCOTUS ruling as both alarming and unethical. She also said that this ruling and the abortion bans enacted by half the states in the country do not take into account the women who will die from this. She emphasized the importance of voting to ensure candidates who are in favor of a woman’s right to choose so they get the support they need to potentially take office and make a change.
Richards made it a point to allow for the representatives of the women’s rights groups to speak before him, as he felt their voices needed to be heard more than his. While he noted that this was a women’s issue, he also said men should also be voicing their support as well.
According to Richards, the 2016 presidential election played a big role in this Supreme Court ruling, as its winner, Donald Trump, ended up appointing three Supreme Court justices during his four years in office, with each voting in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.
In addition to calling on citizens to donate their time and/or money to assisting organizations trying to ensure women have access to abortions, Richards also called upon the Senate to finally put an end to the filibuster so they can pass legislation to help women. Additionally, he called upon President Biden to expand the Supreme Court in order to help undo this ruling that threw out 50 years of precedent.
“This decision showed elections have life and death consequences,” Richards said. “All it takes is sitting out one election for our nation to go backwards. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ‘Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.’ It’s time to organize, galvanize and mobilize like never before.”
According to González-Rojas, this ruling has resulted in corporations and guns having more protected rights in the United States than women. She called for the New York State Legislature to pass the legislation calling for the creation of the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Fund as soon as possible. This fund would ensure access to abortion care in the state by providing funding to abortion providers as well as nonprofit organizations whose primary function is to facilitate access to abortion care.