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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

“Bans Off Our Bodies”

Thousands protest Supreme Court decision overturning Roe V. Wade

PEP photo by Mike Lee

Women in the U.S. had their world set back five decades when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Tens of thousands of protesters jammed lower Manhattan, Washington Square Park, and Union Square to protest the SCOTUS decision that struck down 50 years of established court rulings and threatened reproductive rights in most states.

After the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion on June 24, protestors immediately took to the streets nationwide to fight the decision.

By overturning Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 ruling, the Court put a full stop to a half century of legal victories for reproductive rights and returned the responsibility to state legislatures to define abortion restrictions.

Many states already have taken steps to dramatically restrict or outlaw abortions. With this decision, anti-abortion laws declared unconstitutional by the Roe ruling — some dating back to the 19th Century — were “triggered” because of the decision. Some of these laws are egregiously restrictive and currently being challenged in several state courts.

DC 37’s reaction to the SCOTUS decision was swift and decisive.

“The undoing of Roe v. Wade is an outrageous circumvention of personal freedoms that have been safeguarded by the Constitution for decades,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “We stand in solidarity with those who seek abortion access and those who provide this essential health care. We will do everything in our power to fortify the protection of New Yorkers’ rights to choose for themselves.

By late afternoon, more than 17,000 protestors, including New York Attorney General Letitia James and U.S. Congress member Carolyn Maloney, jammed Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, while a smaller crowd gathered nearby in Union Square where women took to the microphone to share their personal experiences and vent their anger at the Court’s decision.

Some in the overflow crowd at Washington Square Park began a spontaneous march up Fifth Avenue to join the rally at Union Square, while a second group headed south to lower Manhattan to rally at Foley Square and later marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Protests continued the following day as thousands of LGBTQIA+ activists and allies marched down Fifth Avenue to protest the Dobbs decision. The message throughout the weekend was clear: “Bans Off Our Bodies.”

In early May, in response to a leak of the draft of what turned out to be the majority opinion of the case, New York moved to shore up its state laws protecting reproductive rights, including for women seeking abortions from other states that now have restrictive laws.

On Aug. 2, Kansas voters overwhelmingly voted down language that would have denied the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. Several states have similar measures on the November ballot, including California, Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, and Montana.

President Biden issued an Executive Order in response to the SCOTUS decision that protects access to reproductive and other health care services and defending women’s fundamental rights.