Women and reproductive rights activists flooded the city this past week and weekend, protesting on the behalf of states poised to lose the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade gets overturned. Hotspots for fervent protests included Manhattan’s Foley Square and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Hennessy Marie Garcia, 24, is a student at CUNY Medgar Evers College and a protest organizer for NYC For Abortion Rights (NYCFAR). “I would say the situation was very tense,” said Garcia. “We feared for this but we weren’t surprised with the leak. We knew this was coming and it’s like okay, how do we prepare for this.”
Garcia said her grassroots coalition has been holding clinics and trying to get Catholic churches to stop holding vigils outside of Planned Parenthood buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Last year, NYCFAR got the church to stop holding the vigils in Brooklyn but the church in Manhattan has continued. She didn’t expect the turnout to rally in front of the church to be so big this time around, but it makes sense with the community on edge. “It was definitely some weird energy this whole weekend honestly,” said Garcia.
Garcia said that it is deeply frustrating that “old, white men” are deciding who have rights and who doesn’t. “We’re going backwards but other countries are progressing. In Colombia, Mexico, many Latin American countries, the feministas rose up and literally fought for abortion rights,” said Garcia.
To honor the pro-choice abortion rights Latinas in majority Catholic-run countries, her organization and other organizations in the city wear the color green at rallies, said Garcia.
Dr. Lori Sokol is with the ‘RiseUp4AbortionRights’ organization. They’ve been coordinating mass rallies, protests, bridge crossings, and student walkouts. They also wear green bandanas in solidarity with ‘feministas.’ Sokol is glad the issue
is finally getting traction.
Sokol said that regardless of if abortion is legal in New York State, activists here care about women in non-Democratic states who will lose their rights or have to deal with increased restrictions.
Sokol said that if people “cared” about the fetus as opposed to forcing someone to give birth then they would advocate to provide federally funded prenatal care, free health insurance for moms and their children, and federal childcare.
Criminalizing abortion essentially prevents many women, especially low-income women of color, to access education or advance their careers if they have to go through with an unplanned pregnancy, she said.
“Republican legislators will not be intent on making abortion illegal only in red states,” said Sokol. “They will not be content until they completely outlaw abortion throughout the United States.”
Sokol theorizes that the ideological point of Republicans outlawing abortion is to uphold the “white Christian nation” ideal where “white Christian males” are in charge. She said that if Roe v Wade is overturned that could put in jeopardy staples in modern day American society, like marriage equality for LGBTQ+ people, contraception, and possibly interracial marriage.
“That’s why we need to get people out on the streets,” said Sokol. “The only thing that’s going to make a difference is if through this show of protesting is if they feel this can impact the results of the midterm elections where Republicans can’t take control of Congress. That’s the only thing I think they’ll care about.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w