A group of nearly 50 people gathered at Mitchell Park in Greenport Friday evening to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the federal constitutional right to abortion after 50 nearly years.
The demonstration was one of hundreds across the country, sparked by the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision Friday morning, which has seemed inevitable after the leaked draft nearly two months earlier.
Sarah Burnes of Orient organized the women’s rights demonstration through the website for the organization Women’s March.
“I went to see what the Women’s March was doing and saw that there were protests planned all across the country, but there wasn’t one here so I just signed up to host it,” she said.
The demonstrators varied from all ages and they carried signs which said “ban’s off our bodies,” other signs said “we will not go back.” Some also had signs that referred to dangerous methods women sometimes resorted to before abortion was legalized in 1973. Many people driving through the village honked in support.
Kim Stredney of Greenport attended the protest since she couldn’t go to a rally taking place in Washington Square Park where thousands had gathered. She also attended for her partner, an OB/GYN for Northwell Health who was on call and couldn’t attend.
“I found out this is happening from a neighbor and was absolutely going to be here to support no matter where I was at in the country,” she said. “So I was gonna find the place that people were gathering and be here to show up because I think that’s one of the only things we can do right now is show up.”
Photos by Tara Smith
Dr. Alan Shapiro of Orient, a pediatrician who runs a community health center in South Bronx, said the Supreme Court’s decision is horrifying.
“I also work with children that are in foster care, children that are [considered] throwaways, street children and I see the effects of women not having a right to choose and I’ve seen it very firsthand my whole career and I am just horrified by this decision,” he said.
Ms. Burnes said she’s planning another event in the future, coordinating with Planned with Parenthood. The quickly organized gathering Friday didn’t allow her time to receive a permit to accommodate a larger group.
Margaret Cowden, a retired Baptist minster in Greenport, addressed those in attendance thanking them for the support on such short notice and encouraged all to vote.
“Be sure and vote this week in the primary,” she said. “Be sure and come out and vote in August again in the primary and again in November. It’s our main way of pushing back at this and the fight’s just begun.”
The decision to reverse the landmark 1973 case means states can decide whether abortion can be legal. Abortion care remains legal in New York and Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the governor’s office and the New York State Department of Health will launch a multi-platform education campaign to ensure residents know that women can still seek care safely if they choose.
“The Supreme Court has dealt a crushing blow to all who value the ability to make decisions about their own bodies,” Ms. Hochul said in a statement. “Let me be clear: the Supreme Court has failed us, but New York State will not.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued a statement Friday saying the Supreme Court’s decision “effectively strips away a fundamental right for millions of women across the country.”
“Overturning Roe v. Wade not only sets our country back 50 years but also puts the health and safety of countless woman at risk,” he said. “As the father of two daughters, I am grateful that here in New York, I know that we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that women’s rights are protected always.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is vying against three other candidates to win the GOP nomination for governor, called the decision a “victory for life, for family, for the Constitution and for federalism.”
“In a state that has legalized late term partial birth abortion and non-doctors performing abortion, in a state that refuses to advance informed consent and parental consent, and where not enough is being done to promote adoption and support mothers, today is yet another reminder that New York clearly needs to do a much better job to promote, respect and defend life,” the congressman said.
Women’s rights figure to become a prominent part of the governor’s race with Ms. Hochul the presumed favorite for the Democratic nod in Tuesday’s primary and Mr. Zeldin the current leader in polling for the GOP.