Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, thousands gathered in New York City to voice their fears and anger over the historic decision to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion.
The protesters, many of whom had first gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square on Friday afternoon before marching along Fifth Avenue and merging with a growing crowd in Washington Square Park, cried out against the ruling.
Some chanted through bull horns while others held up signs, including one large banner that read, “Unjust decisions will not be obeyed.”
Emma Handler, 27, a theater worker who lives in Kensington, Brooklyn, said that for a few unelected justices to have the power to “make these decisions about our lives and our health and our well-being is deeply dystopian.”
“People will die from this choice, and I hope that people in power have this on their conscience,” Ms. Handler added. “I’m just sad.”
Among the throng that had amassed in Washington Square Park, were a few familiar faces: the state attorney general, Letitia James, who had previously spoken out about her own abortion when she was in the City Council, and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney.
Earlier, other New York officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, had voiced their support of abortion rights.
For Hope Kostmayer, 84, who was at the park with her granddaughter Jessica Maffia, 39, the court decision hit hard. Both have had abortions.
“I knew it was coming but I got hysterical,” said Ms. Kostmayer, of the Upper West Side. “It’s just a real hard time, it’s a real hard time in this country. This country is going downhill.”
Nearby, sitting in a tree above the crowd, Kate Coiro, 23 held a sign that read, “You can’t be pro-gun and pro-life,” in reference to a Supreme Court decision the day before that struck down a restrictive New York gun control law.
“This was the first time I personally felt attacked by a government decision,” said Ms. Coiro, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I want people to know that no one likes abortion, including people who get it. It’s no one’s plan A. But if you’re not in a place to raise a child you shouldn’t have to.”
By the evening, the crowds in the park began to disperse, and a few hundred made their way south toward Lower Manhattan, stopping traffic and eliciting cheers from outdoor diners who snapped photos.
As the march wound down in Foley Square, Maya Vargas worried about her family in Florida, one of several states with so-called trigger laws, which allow for the swift ban of nearly all abortions now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
“I worried a lot for my family because they live in the South,” said Ms. Vargas, 21, of Astoria, Queens. “We’re relatively privileged here in New York, we don’t have to really worry about that at the moment.”
“My younger cousins are scared,” she added.
Back at the corner of West Fourth Street and LaGuardia Place, Sophie Apple, 26, of Harlem, wondered what she could to do help those in other states.
“In some way my goal is to help supply donations where I can, volunteer where I can, help women travel to New York or other states,” she said, “because that appears to be the way forward.”