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Rallies in Connecticut and Long Island join nationwide call to uphold abortion rights

Hundreds of Connecticut and Long Island residents joined rallies held nationwide over the weekend in support of protecting women’s reproductive rights, as the U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term on Monday that includes a case to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established abortion rights.

“Reproductive rights today face the most dire, dangerous threat since Roe v. Wade, because of 560-plus laws in state legislatures that would in effect ban abortion,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said at a rally in Stamford.

Demonstrators across the U.S. want to pressure the Justices and elected officials to uphold the constitutional right to an abortion.

“It really is about ensuring the future for my children,” said Shoshana Hershkowitz, who organized a rally in Port Jefferson, New York. She was joined by her teenage daughter, Ellie.

“When I had to explain to my daughter today what the wire hanger was about, you know, she just looked at me and she said, 'I can't understand why this is an issue. It's just a choice. It's just a choice,'” Hershkowitz said.

The Supreme Court is scheduled in December to hear a case about a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Hershkowitz worries this case could be used to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Credit J.D. Allen/WSHU Public Radio
Cynthia Eaton Tvelia, of Ridge, New York, with her 11-year-old son, Micah; and Rhona Silverbush, of Mattituck, New York, with her son Jack Nierenberg; and Mateo Colicchio, 10.

“In some places, people may not feel safe putting this out there, putting their views out there, and we want them to know that we see them. And even if they are not in a place where it's okay for them to speak up safely. We stand with them,” Hershkowitz said.

Federal prosecutors also want to invalidate a Texas law that bans most abortions. Planned Parenthood has asked the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court to allow more than a dozen lawsuits challenging state law, which have been temporarily stalled in state court.

“You know, things happen. I'm 53 years old; I could accidentally get pregnant during menopause,” Lisa La Corte said at the Port Jefferson rally. “I don't want to start a family again. I already have my family. I should make that decision to maintain what I want in my family, not the government. Government does not belong in my uterus.”

Credit J.D. Allen/WSHU Public Radio
Protestors rallied for women's reproductive rights.

La Corte, a volunteer voter registrar who has signed up 2,000 people to vote in the last four years, said they plan to vote out members of Congress who opposed a bill in the U.S. House that passed last month that would codify Roe v. Wade into law.

All House Republicans, who are mostly white men that include U.S. Reps. Lee Zeldin and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), voted against the measure. It also faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

“We are rallying to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is vital to preserve women’s control over their own bodies and their rights to decide when and whether to have children," said Blumenthal, who is a sponsor of the women's reproductive health legislation. "This is about fundamental human rights."

The Women’s Health Protection Act would block any state or local laws which would put restrictions on a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Still, La Coste said voters can fix the disproportionate representation at the ballot box. 

“Women are 52% of the population worldwide. And in Suffolk County [and Fairfield County], we're 51%. And we really do not have any power,” La Corte said. “And we need in order for us to get power, we have to start electing people that represent us and look like us.”

La Corte said there is also a racial disparity: non-white voters make up around 30% of registered voters in Suffolk County. She said a constitutional right to abortion especially protects low-income people and communities of color.

“This affects all poor women, because rich women can travel anywhere they want to get an abortion and how their doctors do it because they have health insurance,” she said. “But this directly affects poor women who will not have access without Planned Parenthood. Young girls won't be able to go anywhere, and they will be forced into pregnancies.”

Governor Kathy Hochul said over the weekend that New York is a sanctuary for those pregnant people.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.