Long Island Pols, Advocates React to Overturn of Roe v. Wade

Originally published in Long Island Press on June 24, 2022.

Politicians and community leaders on Long Island are reacting to Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which will result in abortion bans in about half of states in the country.

A conservative majority in the nation’s highest court has rolled back the constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years. The ruling puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

“This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant,” said Vincent Russell, president and CEO Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Action Fund, which serves Suffolk County and other parts of New York.

The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step. In preparation for the outcome, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation and committed $35 million last month to strengthen New York’s abortion rights and expand access to the healthcare procedure.

“The right to reproductive healthcare is a fundamental human right,” Hochul said in a statement Friday. “Our state will always be a safe harbor for those seeking access to abortion care.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for the GOP candidate for governor, praised the decision in a statement on Friday.

“Today is a victory for life, for family, for the constitution, and for federalism,” Zeldin said. “Today is yet another reminder that New York clearly needs to do a much better job to promote, respect and defend life.”

Meanwhile, Democratic elected officials and abortion rights advocates were quick to condemn the ruling and organize to fight against it. There will be a rally at the Nassau County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m. Friday in objection to the loss of abortion rights in other parts of the country.

“The fact of the matter is that the policing of bodies in this country is not new, particularly for Black, Brown and Indigenous women who will be most impacted by the court’s dangerous decision,” said Nia Adams, of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, which is hosting the rally. “And due to historic and systemic barriers, we continue to be marginalized. Body-autonomy is necessary for self-determination and liberation. Men in suits who hide in towers do not get to make decisions about our bodies. We demand and continue to fight for comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare for all.”

Friday’s ruling is one of several that the Supreme Court has issued this week, including striking down a century-old gun law in New York that banned concealed carry.

“The Supreme Court has been on a reckless spree of extreme and dangerous rulings that are wildly out of step with the nation, and brazenly send us back to a time to which none of us wish to return,” State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Dix Hills) said in a statement. “This is the America that radical Republican extremists have been relentlessly pushing towards for decades: a country where guns have more rights than people do. A country where women will die in back alleys, and children will die in classrooms.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James also responded to the ruling, saying that, “New York will always be a safe haven for anyone seeking an abortion.”

Russell noted that those who need an abortion can still find providers at abortionfinder.org or by calling 800-230-PLAN.