Thousands of New Yorkers rallied in Cadman Plaza before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of abortion rights on Saturday.
Organizers of the protests estimated a crowd of nearly 10,000 people gathered to show support for legal abortion a week after a leaked draft opinion revealed that the Supreme Court is likely to strike down Roe v. Wade, which protects abortion as a constitutional right.
While the decision is not final, the leak has sparked a fierce reaction across the country from pro-choice advocates who seek to keep abortion a legal right. If Roe is overturned, dozens of states are likely to immediately ban all or most abortions.
Before protesters took off across the bridge, some grabbed markers to share their stories on a freestanding mural by artist Bianca Romero. Commissioned by the march’s organizers, the mural states “I Will Aid & Abet Abortions.”
“This is a pivotal moment in the fight for women’s equality,” Romero said. “It’s been such an uphill battle to get closer to equality and the fact that such a fundamental right is being overturned behind closed doors is just not acceptable.”
Covered with messages of support, the mural was then taken to Foley Square in Manhattan, the destination of the march from Cadman Plaza, where people rallied into the evening.
Local politicians, including New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined their constituents as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge — to mixed reactions from the crowd.
Estefania Galvis, a member of the local Democratic Socialists of America, lightly heckled Schumer as he walked in front of her, remarking, “you’re accountable to what you’re marching for.”
“I don’t know what he’s doing here,” Galvis told Brooklyn Paper, as Schumer talked with protesters, snapped photos, and shouted words of support. “I think it has become very obvious of him to show up places and pretend like he cares. But when it comes down to the small rooms and having big discussions and making big stances, he has not done that.”
After the leak, Schumer announced that the Senate would vote on the Women’s Health Protective Act, a mostly-symbolic last-ditch effort to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law.
Last week, senators voted down party lines to block the bill.
Abortion will remain legal in New York even if Roe is overturned — legal abortion was codified into state law in 2019, and both New York State and New York City have since become safe havens for women from states with more restrictive abortion laws.
“He needs to start understanding that either he has to step back and let a new generation take control of our government, or he needs to step up and do his job,” Galvis said, as other marchers shroud “What do the Democrats do when abortion rights are under attack? Nothing!”
The criticism wasn’t just reserved for federal officials — some marchers chanted, “This is not a photo opp,” as politicos New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams stood at the front of the protest.
When asked for comment at Saturday’s march, Schumer replied he was “not doing interviews.”
Georgia Lale, a local artist, brought a flag she sewed out of hospice gowns to the march.
“[The flag] is about America being sick and abortion being a healthcare right,” she said. “I am a cancer patient, so I’ve experienced the struggles of the American healthcare system. I felt it was appropriate and necessary to come out with this piece to make the statement that America is sick, and we all have to fight for it in order to survive.”