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Brooklyn voices react strongly to Roe v. Wade leaked draft

May 3, 2022 Raanan Geberer, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and Associated Press
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Officials in Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York have reacted strongly to the leaked draft that would weaken the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case legalizing abortions.

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said, “The Supreme Court majority decision draft is confirmation of our worst fears come true. This will reverse all of the progress of the last five decades on abortion rights. The threat the decision poses is not just an attack on women’s rights: it’s a blow to democracy.”

On the other hand, Gerry Kassar, Brooklynite and chair of the New York State Conservative Party, hailed the Supreme Court’s action. 

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“The New York State Conservative Party has been arguing for nearly 50 years that Roe v. Wade was a bad legal decision. Today’s news leak, which may or may not stand, hints at a long-awaited victory for those of us who respect the rights of the unborn and who never viewed abortion as constitutionally protected.”

Still, in heavily Democratic Brooklyn, dismay over the court’s action seems to be the majority opinion. For example, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) said,  “Rejecting Roe v. Wade 50 years later amounts to an all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, and it is a political act by an extreme and hostile Supreme Court. Fifty years ago it was established that every woman has the right to the control of her body, a right that already existed for every man.”

She reminded those reading the statement that Planned Parenthood started in 1916 in Brownsville, now part of her district.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Southern Brooklyn-Staten Island) said that if the court’s decision is allowed to stand, it could jeopardize other constitutional rights that were decided as a result of Supreme Court action, according to the Staten Island Advance.

On Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, both former Brooklyn councilmembers, scheduled a rally at Foley Square for abortion rights with other officials, advocacy groups and “concerned New Yorkers.” Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul assured New Yorkers that abortion would remain legal in New York State.

Plans for a protest at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on the same day were canceled in the face of plans for the larger Foley Square action.

The leaked draft, published late Monday by Politico, is a 98-page majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the constitutionality of Currie’s bill that banned abortion after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

 “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

On Tuesday, , the court confirmed the draft’s authenticity, though it cautioned that the document “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak’s source. While there have, on very rare occasions, been leaks of the outcomes in cases, the publication of a draft running nearly 100 pages was without an evident modern parallel.

The draft opinion does not represent the court’s final word, and the language could change before the court issues its ruling. But if the heart of the draft remains the same, it would give states the power to decide the legality of abortion. More than half are likely to quickly ban abortion.

Abortion clinics in those states opened Tuesday morning, still seeing patients but uncertain about the future.

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