49 years. That’s how long abortion has been a constitutionally protected right in the United States. It’s been 49 years since the Supreme Court put forward their decision on Roe v. Wade. Yesterday, it became public knowledge that a handful of justices with lifetime appointments have voted to overturn the legal precedent affecting over 100 million Americans.

In those 49 years, Congress has failed to enshrine the right to abortion by codifying it into law, allowing the Supreme Court decision to stand as the only bulwark — until now. But it’s not too late for Congress to follow the mandate they have with control over the House of Representatives, Senate, and Presidency. More than half of Americans have supported Roe v. Wade for decades, including half of Republicans, and they continue to support the right to abortion even as it is anti-democratically stripped from them. 

Never has the time to act on reproductive rights been more urgent, particularly when the worst harms of this decision will quickly affect working class people the most. In a country with the highest healthcare costs and maternal mortality rate of its peers, it is unsurprising that Black women suffer a maternal mortality rate 3x higher than white women. We must not allow the racial and economic disparities in reproductive care continue to worsen. Furthermore, we acknowledge that access to safe abortion care is and has always been unequal across racial and economic lines, and that there is much work to be done to ensure universal access to abortion care.

New York has long taken a leading role in the fight for the right to an abortion. When the first four states legalized abortion, it was New York that passed the most liberal legalization of abortion in the country — three years before the Roe v. Wade decision. But its most liberal legalization was far from comprehensive, and it wasn’t until 2019 that New York passed the Reproductive Health Act, which expanded the state’s abortion rights back to the forefront in the nation

But there is more work to be done, and we cannot continue to wait on Congress to protect abortion on the federal level, just as we didn’t half a century ago. There are several bills that the NYS Legislature must pass swiftly to ensure that we continue to protect the right of abortion as we increase its access to the most vulnerable among us. These include: 

  • S8778, which protects legal abortion providers by prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state investigations related to abortion,
  • S757, which establishes a state fund for abortion access and allows New Yorkers to contribute to the fund through their income tax returns,
  • S7002, which requires all private insurance plans in the state with maternity care coverage to also cover abortion care,
  • and the NYHA (S5474/A6058), which would provide free at point of use universal healthcare coverage to all New Yorkers and those working full-time in the state, including for all reproductive health.

When NY legalized abortion, it quickly became an oasis state, with hundreds of thousands coming from around the country seeking the procedure, amounting to 60% of abortions performed in the state in the two years after legalization. If the Supreme Court decision holds, we should expect states like NY to again become that oasis. We must ensure that our abortion care is fully funded and accessible to all, regardless of residency, economic status, citizenship, age, race, and level of disability.

Until the Court’s decision is made final, abortion access should remain unaffected across the country. In NY, abortion access will continue as it has, so residents should continue to seek out safe and legal reproductive care.

The Supreme Court’s decision has been decades in the making, and it will continue to make political moves to police people’s bodies through homophobic and transphobic erosions of our rights. The leaked majority opinion penned by Justice Alito makes clear that this decision will serve as precedent to undo other landmark cases, like Obergefell v. Hodges and Loving v. Virginia, which established the constitutional right to gay and interracial marriage respectively.

This is disheartening beyond words, but it is not the end of the fight. The state can make abortion illegal, but it cannot prevent abortions. We stand in solidarity with all those who seek abortion and all who will provide it, by any means necessary. 

Please consider donating to the following funds in states where support for abortion care is desperately needed:

And sign this petition to send a message to the Supreme Court that we won’t back down. 

We’ll be rallying for reproductive rights at 396 Broadway in Kingston at 5 PM tonight. See you there!