Courtesy of Lauren Sherman '24

Ithacans gathered at Bernie Milton Pavilion to rally against a leaked Supreme Court opinion aided to overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3.

May 4, 2022

Ithacans Rally Against Possible Overturn of Roe v. Wade

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On Monday, a United States Supreme Court draft opinion that could strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was leaked to Politico, casting uncertainty on the future of reproductive rights for millions of women across the country, especially in states that have expressed the desire to ban abortions. 

The following day, more than 100 students and local residents gathered in the Ithaca Commons to rally against the decision. Organized by Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, the event, operating on short notice, crowded the Bernie Milton Pavilion at 5 p.m. with protestors demanding that legal abortion remain a protected right.

Resounding chants of “Keep bans off our bodies” and “This is what democracy looks like!” could be heard coming from the crowd. Cars passing by on Seneca Street honked in support, adding to the noise of the rally. Many protestors carried bright pink signs provided by PPGNY that read, “Protect safe, legal abortion,” and donned the color green to show support for abortion rights. 

Patty Nash has worked with Planned Parenthood for decades and has protested in favor of abortion rights in places like Baton Rouge, La. Nash decided to attend the rally after hearing about it through the progressive organization MoveOn. She expressed frustration at what she sees as a lack of progress and erosion of abortion rights in the United States.

“I’ve been fighting this fight for 30 years and it’s like a brick wall,” Nash said. “This should be established law.”

Several speakers took the stand during the rally, urging attendees to vote in upcoming elections. Among the speakers was PPGNY organizer Colin Benedict ’21 who told The Sun that he wanted to have a space where people could immediately express their emotions regarding the decision.

“It was really, really great to just see the community support that we have as an organization and as a provider of reproductive health care,” Benedict said. 

Benedict described the leaked decision as “devastating”. He said that Planned Parenthood has been preparing for a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade due to the current makeup of the Supreme Court, though he was surprised it happened so soon.

Benedict also said that PPGNY will focus on strengthening New York as a state where abortion rights are protected by pushing for the passage of Equal Rights Amendment, which would go beyond New York’s 2019 Reproductive Health Act and codify legal abortion into New York State’s constitution.

Kayleigh Arnold and Grace Koury, both Ithaca College students, attended the rally after hearing about it from the Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter at IC. 

Koury expressed her anger at hearing the SCOTUS decision, disagreeing with the originalist constitutional interpretation taken by Justice Samuel Alito in the draft opinion. 

“When they go back and they’re like ‘well, the founders wanted this so we should respect that,’ I think that’s a lot of crap,” Koury said. “Healthcare is a human right and getting that taken away is just like a kick in the face.”

Koury and Arnold also said they were concerned about the effect the decision would have on marginalized groups, such as transgender people. While the two students both live in New York state, where abortion rights will likely continue to be protected under state law, they noted that people residing in other states could have their abortion access restricted if Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

“I think it’s really important to recognize the privilege of knowing we live in New York State where abortion would still be protected. And I think that’s why it’s important to show up for things like this, just to recognize the solidarity and power of numbers,” Arnold said. 

Samantha Bosco, grad, and Cat Pulham, grad, both believe organizing in favor of abortion rights is important to build a coalition against overbearing Christian values in governance. They raised concerns about the SCOTUS decision opening the door to minority groups facing the loss of rights. 

“As a trans person, this [SCOTUS decision] is part of a larger, coordinated effort to erode the rights of people,” Bosco said. “We have to be working together because this is about us, all of us.”