HealthThe Examiner

Reproductive Rights Rally Held on Second Anniversary of Dobbs Decision

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Dee Volz, 101 years old, and her daughter, Tina Volz-Bongar, at Sunday’s Reproductive Rights Rally in Mount Kisco. Local officials and community members spoke about preserving reproductive healthcare and how New York State’s Equal Rights Amendment that would protect reproductive rights will be on the ballot in November.

Carrying hand-made signs, posters and banners, reproductive rights supporters rallied Sunday to protect reproductive rights for women throughout New York State.

About 70 people braved high heat and humidity near Mount Kisco Village Hall for a chance to hear local officials and community members speak about reproductive healthcare and New York State’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The amendment will be on the ballot for the November general election.

Reproductive rights rallies have been scheduled throughout the United States two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that guaranteed a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. The case that overturned Roe, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ended federal protection of reproductive rights, leaving states to set their own laws regarding abortion.

To date, 14 states have prohibited almost all abortion services and three states have enacted six-week bans.

“Make no mistake about it, we have a fight,” Assemblyman Chris Burdick (D-Bedford) told the crowd. “We here in New York State must do everything we can to protect the rights for reproductive healthcare and for LGBTQ+ communities and for all marginalized communities.”

Burdick, along with other officials, spoke about the recent court decision to allow the state’s ERA to appear on the November ballot. If passed, New York would offer protections such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights into the state constitution.

New York State made abortion legal in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade. In 2019, the state passed the Reproductive Health Act to protect access to reproductive rights and made the right to abortion part of state law.

“When we voted to codify Roe v. Wade into the New York State health law in 2019, we got zero Republican votes,” said state Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro). “When we voted for the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act in 2019, we got zero Republican votes. And when we voted two years in a row for the Equal Rights Amendments, we got zero Republican votes. This is a fight we have to win right here in this state.”

Harckham urged those in attendance to start knocking on doors to share information about the amendment, including its presence on the ballot.

High school student Amelie Roth spoke at Sunday’s Reproductive Rights Rally in Mount Kisco. She commented on the impacts that overturning Roe v. Wade has had on women and will have on her generation of women.

Westchester County Legislator Emiljana Ulaj (D-Cortlandt) said she was deeply disturbed when Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“It boils down to this: if I cannot be trusted as a woman to make this decision for myself, my own government is treating me as less than a full citizen,” Ulaj said. “When half the population in this country is degraded in this way, when half the population in this country is officially seen by the Supreme Court as less than a full citizen, this is an attack on our human rights and an attack on our democracy itself.”

Other speakers included Celeste Theis of CCoHope Indivisible, one of the organizers of the rally, Catherine Lederer-Plaskett of Choice Matters and Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D-Ossining). Introducing speakers was Kate Permut of Westchester Women’s Agenda.

High school student Amelie Roth spoke about the impacts that the Dobbs decision has had on women and will have on the women in her generation.

“For 731 days, women around the country have been scared of what else is going to be stripped from them,” Roth said. “For me pro-choice is pro-life.”

Roth said she felt compelled to advocate for the ERA.

“For me, if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, she doesn’t have to be. Period.” she said. “But without the ERA in the state constitution our abortion rights are not secure.”

In a few weeks the Supreme Court will rule on another landmark case, Idaho v. United States. If the court rules in favor of Idaho’s Defense of Life Act, which prohibits nearly all abortions in the state, Idaho can enforce a limit on a hospital’s ability to provide abortion care during emergencies.

The United States government has argued that the Idaho law conflicts with the federal mandate, the Emergency Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which ensures access to emergency medical services, such as stabilizing care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.

Holding a sign that said “I am a mother by choice” was Elise-Ann Konstantin of Cortlandt.

“We are talking about healthcare,” she said. “We have to keep fighting or our reproductive rights will be taken away.”

Organizers and co-sponsors of the rally included Indivisible Westchester, CCoHope, Take 17, Putnam Progressives, Indivisible Yorktown, 1199 SEIU, Rivertowns Vote and Northern Westchester Indivisible.

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