Protesters furious over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade are expected to turn out in unprecedented numbers Friday following the reversal of a nearly half-century ruling granting abortion rights, with huge crowds gathering in New York City.
The decision, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court that has been fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.
The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.
A crowd of hundreds had already gathered outside the steps of the Supreme Court Friday morning in the immediate aftermath of the justices' ruling, and was growing as the evening wore on, one of the largest crowds in recent memory to protest in front of the court building.
A rally at Washington Square Park started small around 4 p.m., but within two hours, hundreds had gathered in the area to protest the decision. Another large group of demonstrators started at Union Square, and as the numbers there grew, the protest took to the streets and began marching down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park, at one point stopping and sitting in the road.
Thousands soon flooded the streets of NYC, with more rallies scheduled throughout New York and the rest of the tri-state.
Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.
Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Alito wrote.
In New York, where Gov. Kathy Hochul signed sweeping legislation protecting abortion rights earlier this month, politicians condemned the latest actions of the highest court.
“Two days in a row, politics came before people at the highest court in the land, and, as a result, the health of our nation now hangs in jeopardy. What the court has done today ignores the opinions of the majority of Americans, as it helps states control women’s bodies, their choices, and their freedoms," said NYC Mayor Eric Adams.
In 2019, New York’s pro-reproductive rights legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade in the state’s constitution.
RHA preserves the right to abortion in New York, despite federal or judicial efforts to dismantle Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York reiterated after the court's draft opinion was leaked in May.
"This is personal. The U.S. Supreme Court has robbed millions of people of their right to control their bodies and personal health care decisions. This cruel decision provokes a dangerous health crisis," the group's interim president and CEO Joy Calloway said Friday in a statement.
"People will be forced to overcome unjust barriers to access abortion or carry pregnancies against their will — at the risk of their health and lives," she added. "We will not compromise on our bodies, our dignity, or our freedom. We have strength in numbers and power in our united voices."