Two dozen protesters were arrested in Manhattan late Friday after thousands of people flooded the streets of New York and cities across the country following the reversal of a nearly half-century ruling granting abortion rights.
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 took to the streets of NYC throughout the night, winding through parts of Lower Manhattan before snaking up and into Midtown.
Armed with signs condemning the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the marchers chanted criticisms of ruling. The crowds, whose true size aren't yet known, passed Times Square, Grand Central and Bryant Park, where they appeared to end for the night. More protests are expected Saturday.
Officers arrested almost two dozen protesters near the park around 11 p.m., where several people blocked traffic along 42nd Street. The NYPD said 24 people were taken into custody, the majority for disorderly conduct and traffic obstruction.
Another rally is planned at Union Square for 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Supreme Court's 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.
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."