Several members of the majority women City Council rallied on the City Hall steps Tuesday morning in a stark rebuke of a leaked majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion acorss the county last night.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) said the right to abortion in the U.S. is not a decades-long right protected by Roe Vs. Wade, a decision that came down in 1973, but is a “human right of self determination.”
“We are in the year 2022, you would think it was the year 1950 this morning.” Adams said. “It is clear that our worst fears are coming true. If this draft majority opinion is reflected in the final decision, it would be a total affront to all women across the United States and it would end the constitutional right to abortion. This decision would ignore nearly 50 years of case law and be a dangerous and unprecedented act. It would empower states across the country to ban abortion. Many states already have made it clear. Many states have laws that could immediately go into effect and more would likely follow suit.”
Although abortion no longer remain a right on the federal level if the current majority opinion is upheld, the Speaker said, it will still be legal in New York as it was codified into state law through the passage of the Reproductive Health Act – passed in 2019.
“Make no mistake about it and hear us clearly New York will remain a destination state for any and all women seeking abortion care,” Adams said. “And we will continue to provide access to safe reproductive health care for all.”
The impending Supreme Court majority opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, was reported late Monday night by Politico. The news came from an apparent leak from someone inside the court, which Neal Katyal – a lawyer who has frequent contact with the court – said was “the first major leak from the Supreme Court ever.”
The draft opinion – also a rebuke of a subsequent decision named Planned Parenthood v. Casey that further solidified the right to abortion established under Roe – said that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start.”
“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote in the draft opinion.
According to the report, Alito was joined in his vote to overturn the landmark decision in a conference after hearing oral arguments last December by conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The Democratic-appointed Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are reportedly working on one or more dissents. And how Chief Justice John Roberts will vote is still unclear.
If the decision goes through, it will be left up to individual states to determine the legality of abortion. Several states across the country have already banned or are looking to ban abortion past the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Council Member Farah Louis (D – Brooklyn), a co-chair of the City Council Women’s Caucus, said overturning Roe will disproportionately impact low-income women of color living in states with the most restrictive abortion laws.
“A decision to overturn Roe Vs. Wade would be an open floodgate of attacks against women across this country,” Louis said. “Bans or reductions to the abortion window will disproportionately impact people seeking abortions, particularly marginalized black, Latinx, indigenous, Asian women who have no insurance or access to health care and live in health care deserts.”
Council Member Amanda Farias (D – Bronx), the other co-chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus, said overturning Roe won’t stop women from seeking abortions, it’ll only make it harder to get one safely.
“We all know too well that the unfortunate reality of overturning Roe means only banning safe abortions,” Farias said. “Outlawing abortion does not stop a woman’s need to make decisions on her health and the wellness of her body. Abortion access is about safety, health care and dignity. It is about making sure that women get to choose when, if or how they will have a family.”