Photo: Nicole Rosenthal
Hundreds of people gathered in Foley Square on Tuesday evening to protest the restrictive abortion legislation enacted in Alabama and other states in the South and Midwest.
The rally, organized by the New York City chapter of Planned Parenthood, included keynote speakers such as New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
“By banning abortions, we’re only banning safe abortions,” said protester Rene Jameson, 19, who came from Boston to attend the demonstration. “I don’t think it is fair to force people with uteruses to result to dangerous and hazardous practices to get basic health care and support themselves.”
More than 500 similar protests occurred throughout the country during the “National Day of Action to Stop the Bans”, a response to the near-total ban on abortions recently passed in Alabama. Similar laws are near passage, including a ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, in Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Louisiana.
“I’m here today because 51 percent of our population is women and we just don’t have that kind of representation in government,” Jameson said. “I’m hoping that young people who care about women’s rights will show up [at the protest] and run for government and pursue activism.”
Waving signs, flags and coat hangers in the air, the crowd chanted through the evening in solidarity with women already affected by the legislation in the South.
“Abortion is health care and abortion is a fundamental right,” said Stringer, a proponent of the New York Abortion Access Fund. The fund supports those who are living or traveling to New York and cannot afford abortion care. “We need to put our money where our mouth is. There is more the government can do.”
Opponents of the new abortion laws in Alabama and other states fear that the restrictive legislation could trigger a domino effect and lead to new, similar laws across the country. Eventually, the legal battle could end up in the Supreme Court and result in the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 decision that made abortion legal in the U.S.
“There’s an emergency and a war against women that has been going on and on,” said Upper East Side resident Pam Zimmerman, 45. “It feels like it’s the worst it’s been in my lifetime. As somebody who was born right after Roe v. Wade. I can’t have my daughter growing up in this.”