City Hall, NY – In response to the disclosure of a draft majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Speaker Adrienne Adams and the Council’s Women’s Caucus stood with women’s reproductive rights advocates to express alarm at the draft opinion, urge action by the U.S. Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and reiterate support for women’s rights to safe abortion and reproductive health access.
If the draft majority opinion remains in any final decision, the federal right to abortion would be overturned, allowing each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. There are at least 25 states where abortion could likely be immediately prohibited if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Thirteen states have already passed “trigger laws” which are bans that automatically go into effect if the court decision were overturned.
In New York State, abortion is protected by state law under the Reproductive Health Act. It codifies abortion rights and treats abortion as health care, ensuring access to care and protection by law.
The Council, led by Speaker Adams, was represented by over a dozen of its women members who make up the legislative body’s first-ever women-majority, and were joined by several of their male colleagues.
“I’m beyond appalled and disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “If this remains in a final decision, it would be an affront to women across the country. The decades-long federal recognition of women’s rights to control our reproductive health choices is an essential human right of self-determination. In New York, abortion rights are protected by state law, and we will remain a destination state for all women seeking abortion care. The U.S. Senate must do what’s right and immediately pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure the fundamental health rights of women across this country are protected by federal law.”
“I want all the people who woke up angry and devastated this morning to know that New York will not stand idly by when the rights and lives of women are threatened,” said Council Member Amanda Farías, Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus. “No matter what the Supreme Court decides, those of us standing here today will continue fighting to ensure that all women have access to make a safe choice for themselves and their families. As women, autonomy over our bodies should not be up for debate. The life changing decision to have a child should not be decided by any court or politician, and it should definitely not be decided by men. We know all too well that the unfortunate reality of overturning Roe means only banning safe abortions. The New York City Council is a women majority – a testament to the progress that has been made in the fight for gender equity. We cannot and will not go back.”
“It is crystal clear that the United States Supreme Court, dominated by out of touch, individuals, will strike down the progress and precedent established by the monumental 1973 Roe vs Wade case, which enshrined a woman’s right to choose” said Council Member Farah Louis, Co-Chair of the Council’s Women’s Caucus. “As women fight every day to establish true equity with their male counterparts socially, politically, and economically, it is brash, backwards, and degenerate decisions such as these that serve only to strengthen and reinforce the glass ceiling that millions of women have dedicated their lives to chip away. This assault on women’s rights will only be reaffirming and legitimizing the attacks on women and women’s rights across the country, opening the flood gates to an unprecedented level of hostility and violence against women.”
“Affirming, free and safe abortion care must be honored as a human right,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Chair of the Council’s Women and Gender Equity Committee. “For communities of color, however, reproductive justice hasn’t always meant only fighting for the right to an abortion, it has also meant to fight for the right to have and to parent our children. The Black mortality rate, family separation, pipelines to mass incarceration, deportation — these are all reproductive justice issues. That’s why we fight for police-free schools, gender-affirming healthcare, housing as a human right, environmental justice, and many other aims. The core of this struggle is the same as all liberation struggles: freedom from control, coercion, and exploitation. We’ve got an enormous fight ahead of us. It’s going to take all of us coming together, across differences, with profound love, courage and solidarity. Things may seem very bleak right now, but in the words of Mariame Kaba, ‘Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.’”
“The nightmare women feared most from the Trump Supreme Court appointments is potentially and sadly coming to fruition – the turning back the clock on abortion access in this country,” said Council Member Lynn Schulman, Chair of the Council’s Health Committee. “As Health Chair, I will continue to fight and advocate for women’s reproductive rights everywhere. Our lives depend on it.”
“After using this case as a foundation to advocate for half a century on the expansion for women’s rights, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is unfathomable,” said Council Member Nantasha Williams, Chair of the Council’s Civil and Human Rights Committee. “As Chair of the Committee of Civil and Human Rights, we need to acknowledge that a woman’s right to choose is a human right and it is absurd that we are still having to justify control over our bodies. Now more than ever it is incredibly important that Congress takes the immediate steps to codify Roe v. Wade. We cannot allow for the court to make a decision that impacts a woman so heavily, especially women of color and those who do not have access to adequate resources. Although it’s easy to feel defeat with this historic SCOTUS leak, we must use it to organize and fight like hell. We must never go back, only forward. I stand in solidarity with my colleagues and Speaker Adams on ensuring we are protecting the women of this city and also providing a safe haven for women across the country.”
“I am deeply concerned for the future of women’s health in America,” said Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers. “The Supreme Court is moving to take the right to a safe abortion away from millions. This decision is a callous criminalization of healthcare, and it will endanger the lives and health of countless people. Nowhere in America do we see government interfering with a man’s body in this way. It’s time that we treat women as the equal members of society that we are.”
“Generations of women have fought for the right to have autonomy over their bodies and healthcare decisions, including the right to contraception and abortion. This step backward threatens the lives of women and endangers other basic rights established by the Court,” said Council Member Gale Brewer. “Having fought my entire life for women’s rights, I am enraged at the prospect that millions of women will suffer, and many will die as the result of Justice Alito’s opinion. We are proud of New York State for codifying Roe into law but now we call on Congress to do the same.”
“Activists, organizers, and everyday people across the country warned us that this moment would come,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson. “Yet, legislators at every level failed to heed our calls. So, today, we’re witnessing our fears come to life— an open and endorsed attack on the rights of millions of people across the nation. We’ll plainly see the deep and far-reaching consequences of this decision, and especially, the toll it will have on our poor and working class Black and brown communities. Be certain, this is an issue of racial and economic justice. It is an issue of equal access and of a person’s right to bodily autonomy. In this moment, and moving forward, we have the responsibility to respond together, in solidarity, and continue to make it clear that abortion access in New York City will always be protected.”
“This opinion and the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade is a direct result of a longstanding campaign to rollback not only abortion rights but broader civil and human rights,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “We must protect people suffering the impacts of multiple oppressions who bear brunt of these despicable attacks. While New York has codified protections, we will fight to protect and expand human rights and dignity for ALL people across the country. Myself, along with millions of other women, will not go backwards. We are prepared to protect our daughters and granddaughters right to determine what happens with their bodies.”
“Nearly 50 years ago, Roe v. Wade protected women’s right to self-determination,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “Last night, the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court reflected the action of a conservative court led by Justice Alito who has never had to make reproductive health decisions of his own. The New York State legislature moved to codify Roe v. Wade in 2019, and today more than ever the New York City Council will lead in the fight for reproductive justice and abortion access.”
“The threat to overturn Roe v. Wade emphasizes how disposable human and basic rights are perceived to be by the highest court in the nation,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “When we deny a person their right to safe and affordable abortion, we are also denying their right to healthcare, their right to a choice, their right to make a financial decision for themselves, and their inalienable right to live their life as they see fit. I, along with so many of my colleagues in service, organizers, activists, and everyday Americans, am committed to fighting this egregious violation of our human rights until we get the justice we deserve.”
“A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental freedom,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. “For centuries in America, women did not have control over their bodies. Now, reactionary forces are trying to bring us back to the dark days of desperate women getting dangerous, illegal abortions in back alleys. My colleagues and I will not sit silently while right-wing, unelected Judges try to strip our bodily autonomy away from us. This injustice will not stand.”
“The ramifications of the draft opinion by Justice Alito are unthinkable,” said Council Member Linda Lee. “Its implications go beyond healthcare rights and personal autonomy, and also impact privacy and a myriad of other deeply personal issues that the government has no business regulating. Women across the United States will bear devastating consequences, some even with their lives. We must do everything in our power to codify Roe v. Wade now and fight for women everywhere because we cannot afford to go back to the way things used to be.”
“The unprecedented reports are devastating that the Supreme Court of the United States of America could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Council Member Julie Menin. “Women’s reproductive rights are health care rights, and today more than ever they are being torn from us.”
“Abortion rights are undoubtedly under attack given the leaked draft from the Supreme Court,” said Council Member Mercedes Narcisse. “Today, I stand with my colleagues in the Women’s Caucus to reaffirm our support of a woman’s constitutional right to choose, and ask that the court respect and uphold the nearly 50-year-old precedent set by Roe v. Wade. If the court chooses to move forward with overruling Roe v. Wade and destroys this fundamental right, it is imperative that Congress acts swiftly to reverse this outrageous attack on women.”
“Years ago, I found out I was pregnant very late into term and almost missed the legal cut off for having an abortion. I was terrified,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse. “Because I had access to a safe, affordable abortion – I was able to live. Ending access to safe abortions will lead to many fatalities and dangerous abortions being carried out. New York State must immediately work to secure and codify the right to abortion.”
“This ruling as currently drafted will not stop abortions, but would halt safe abortions across many states,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “History shows us that before Roe v Wade, low-income pregnant people were losing their lives as they opted for unsafe alternatives. The most impacted by this ruling will continue to be those already most marginalized. No opinion, no rationale, ever justifies the overreach of having one’s right to choose revoked from the highest court in the nation.”
“A woman’s body should not be bound by any law, her body, her choice,” said Council Member Althea Stevens. “Our body, our choice. Restricted access to abortion historically has disproportionately impacted low income and women of color. We have come too far as a society to back track into malpractices of our overlooking governance. Together we will stand, together we will stay strong.”
“Women across America woke up this morning only to discover that the right to autonomy over their own bodies is once again in jeopardy,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “This decision by the Supreme Court won’t stop women from having abortions, but it will force them to seek out dangerous and potentially deadly alternatives, which will almost certainly have a greater impact on low-income women of color. It is time for the United States to make access to a safe and legal abortion the law of the land, not a right left in the hands of nine unelected individuals. I look forward to working with my fellow members in the City Council’s Women’s Caucus and colleagues at all levels of government to ensure New York leads the way in protecting a woman’s right to choose.”
“While yesterday’s opinion was only a leaked draft of a potential decision from the Supreme Court, it is a disturbing and frankly unconstitutional decision as it stands,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “The decision not only sets a dangerous precedent for overturning other settled law such as Obergefell, but ends women and girls bodily autonomy. The majority of justices that support this opinion reflect a minority of the people in this country when deciding to force birth on others. And let’s be clear they are forcing birth by removing the rape, incest, and other health exemptions. Their decision will lead to thousands of deaths. Currently the United States has one of the worst maternal mortality rates for an industrialized country in the World, and do not guarantee mental health care for those who are suffering from diagnoses like post-partum. For now everyone needs to understand abortion is still legal in this country, and if you are in need of these services you still have access and are always welcome in New York City.”
“After having a baby, I am more pro-choice than ever before,” said Council Member Julie Won. “It is not because I don’t love my baby or love being a mom, but because what women go through to give birth, vaginal or c-section, is so traumatic and invasive; women deserve to choose to go through it. Every woman should have access to have a healthy, safe delivery or abortion. The women who will bear the brunt of the consequences of Roe v. Wade being overturned will be working class women, especially BIPOC women who won’t be able to travel across state lines to receive care. What is argued to be a life saving measure will lead to many lives lost and health risks due to desperation.”
“A woman’s right to access reproductive healthcare is not up for debate in 2022. Not today, and not tomorrow either,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “During my time in the City Council, I was proud to stand with my sisters in the Women’s Caucus to fight for abortion access in New York City and as Bronx Borough President, I am committed to continuing the fight for reproductive justice! We will not allow the Supreme Court and conservative legislators to undo almost 50 years of progress in this country.”
“Banning abortion isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous, especially for people of color and those living in poverty,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “Abortion isn’t a decision I’ll ever have to make for myself, but I still know government has no business barring anyone from access to critical healthcare. Access to safe and legal abortion is essential healthcare that we must protect. For as long as it takes, the fight must continue to preserve and defend the right of bodily autonomy and reproductive justice for all. We must codify Roe v. Wade into federal law now.”
“I’m deeply saddened and angered to hear of the leaked draft opinion that strikes down Roe v. Wade,” said Council Member Chi Ossé. “This is a dangerous offense to women and TGNC folks across the country that will have painful and even mortal consequences. The decision comes from a Supreme Court whose legitimacy was diminished in 2000 with Bush v. Gore, broken in 2016 with the McConnell blockade of Merrick Garland, and lost with the 2020 last-minute appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. We could never rely on the Court — and now it’s clear and urgent that we must use this flawed democracy’s other tools and institutions to protect our fundamental rights. To remember: Women’s health is protected by state law, so New York will not see any immediate impact. But the same cannot be said for other states in the union. We have an obligation to fight for our sisters and TGNC siblings in every state through both our votes and protest until the GOP is defeated and women’s health is enshrined in law.”
“This is not simply a draft of a devastating and politically motivated Supreme Court opinion, it is a roadmap for dismantling our fundamental right to safe, legal abortion, a right codified nearly FIFTY YEARS AGO,” said Joy D. Calloway, Interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. “Abortion bans are designed to deny Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous people their right to control their bodies and futures. These bans disproportionally harm people with low incomes who cannot afford access to fundamental health care or travel to get it. Abortion bans are the perpetuation of racism, sexism, and economic injustice in a country that has a long history of stripping people of their own personal autonomy. Let’s be clear: Abortion is still legal. As of today, it remains your constitutional right. And thanks to reproductive rights champions in New York, abortion will remain safe and legal in this great state regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court. Abortion is health care. Health care happens at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.”
“The draft Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is not final — but it is nonetheless despicable, and confirms our worst fears: that a majority of justices are willing to place anti-abortion zealotry above the health, well-being, and bodily autonomy of people across this country,” said Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “If the Court overturns Roe, then we know what will happen – nearly half the states will move to ban abortion, pushing abortion care out of reach for people across wide swaths of the country, especially the South and Midwest. This opinion is a call-to-action to elected officials to protect access to abortion care in every way possible. NIRH and the NIRH Action Fund will fight like hell to pass protective laws in every city and state we can — and we call on elected officials at every level of government to join this fight and take action now.”
“As federal reproductive rights vanish, New York will again be a beacon for people who need abortion care, including women, girls, and transgender and gender non-conforming people,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Our state first opened its doors to abortion care five decades ago, and three years before the Court decided Roe. In New York today the Reproductive Health Act codifies Roe v. Wade in state law, recognizing abortion – and the whole range of reproductive care — as a fundamental right. To truly lead the way today, there is even more New York must do. The NYCLU will work tirelessly to ensure New York enshrines new protections in our constitution, protects our providers, delivers funding needed to access care, and that anyone needing care knows that in New York abortion is your right.”
“For NCJW, reproductive freedom is religious freedom,” said Andrea Salwen Kopel, Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Women New York. “Those who invoke ‘religious liberty’ to block access to abortion are in fact imposing their own religious beliefs on others. If the Supreme Court moves forward with this draft decision, it is a violation of our Constitutional rights.”