Jun. 24—Friday's Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision drew everything from outrage to elation across the nation and right here in the Capital Region.
It was one of the darkest days in American history, a victory for the sanctity of life, a just decision, a vicious and dangerous attack, a prelude to greater attacks on personal liberty, a prelude to taxpayer-funded abortion tourism in New York, depending who you asked.
It was also a bitter defeat or a victory to be savored in a fight that's not over.
Here are some official reactions:
Joy D. Calloway, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund:
"This is personal. The U.S. Supreme Court has robbed millions of people of their right to control their bodies and personal health care decisions. This cruel decision provokes a dangerous health crisis. People will be forced to overcome unjust barriers to access abortion or carry pregnancies against their will — at the risk of their health and lives. This is a profoundly dismal day for our country, but the fight is far from over. Abortion justice demands that we fiercely fight to ensure equitable access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care — and abortion is health care."
The Catholic Bishops of New York State:
"We give thanks to God for today's decision of the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. This just decision will save countless innocent children simply waiting to be born. On this historic day, our gratitude extends to the millions of heroic Americans who have worked tirelessly toward this outcome for nearly a half-century. Women and men, children and adults, believers and non-believers, people of every culture and background have advocated for life. They have been a charitable and compelling voice for the voiceless, and today, their voice has been heard. ... We must remember that this is a judicial victory, not a cultural one. The culture remains deeply divided on the issue, which will be evidenced by the patchwork of state statutes pertaining to abortion across the country. To change the culture and build a culture of life, we need to enact family-friendly policies that welcome children, support mothers, cherish families and empower them to thrive."
Rabbi Matt Cutler of Congregation Gates of Heaven in Niskayuna:
Upon hearing the decision, Cutler hoisted a National Council of Jewish Women banner reading "Reproductive Freedom is a Jewish Value" outside the sanctuary. It's a tenet of the Reform Jewish faith, he explained. "We do protect the rights of children," he said. "However, in utero the rights belong to the mother, first and foremost." Cutler added that New Yorkers who believe in freedom of choice should not be complacent because the state has such strong abortion protections. "Lick the wound, mourn the decision, but the next battle for us is to ensure in New York state, women have the right to reproductive freedom. We cannot take anything for granted."
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., bemoaned the "devastating" decision but looked beyond it, as well:
"While today's ruling is a terrible setback in the fight for women's equality, it does not diminish our resolve. In fact, it is time to get to work and fight for our rights. At the federal level Democrats will fight to eliminate the filibuster and enshrine reproductive freedom into law. At the state level we will work to enact pro-choice legislation and flip legislatures to guarantee reproductive rights for all Americans. And in states like New York where reproductive health care is safe and accessible, we will open our doors to those seeking care. We cannot allow nearly 50 years of progress for women's rights to be erased in one fell swoop. We have simply come too far to turn back now."
Chelly Hegan, president/CEO of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood:
"The Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds of miles for care or be forced to continue pregnancies they are not prepared for. Here in New York, we can and will continue to provide abortion care because your health and well-being are our highest priority, no matter what. But make no mistake — this decision goes beyond abortion. This is about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control how your future is going to be."
Gov. Kathy Hochul:
"The right to reproductive healthcare is a fundamental human right. History shows us that when abortion is banned, abortion becomes unsafe for women. Low-income individuals and people of color will be harmed the most," said Hochul, who on Friday announced a public education campaign on reproductive healthcare in New York, including a new website that is a one-stop source of information in 13 languages. "New York has always been a beacon for those yearning to be free. Our state will always be a safe harbor for those seeking access to abortion care. To anyone who is working to deny abortion access, our message is clear: not here, not now, not ever."
New York Attorney General Letitia James:
"Today's ruling is a vicious, dangerous, and deliberate attack on our most basic freedom as humans," James said, reminding New Yorkers of the state's many specific legal protections, including:
— There's an unqualified right to abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy, and beyond 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or the mother's physical or mental health is at risk;
— Minors are allowed access without parental notification or consent;
— Intimidation of or interference with those seeking an abortion is prohibited;
— Abortion confidentiality is protected from partners, spouses, employers, parents and everyone else;
— Insurers are required to cover medically necessary abortions and, as of Jan. 1, 2023, will be required to cover abortion with plans that cover maternity care;
— Public funding is available for abortion.
Gerard Kassar, chairman, New York State Conservative Party:
"Roe v. Wade was a constitutionally flawed decision that never should have been issued. Scholars have known that for decades. Today's Supreme Court ruling simply returns abortion laws to states, which always should have maintained purview over this issue."
Donna Lieberman, executive director, New York Civil Liberties Union:
"This is an attack on women and anyone in need of abortion care. This is a full-scale assault on pregnant people, their health care providers, and their support systems. This is a racial, gender and economic justice catastrophe. ... As federal reproductive rights vanish, New York will again be a beacon for people who need abortion care, including women, young people, transgender and gender non-conforming people. In New York today, the Reproductive Health Act protects access to abortion in our public health law."
Dr. Parag Mehta, president, Medical Society of the State of New York:
"Today's decision creates a new, unacceptable reality that allows physicians and other health care providers to be punished for providing needed care to their patients. Abortion is a medical procedure and should not be criminalized. We must make sure our patients have access to the healthcare they need."
Rob Ortt, state Senate Republican leader:
"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court returns authority over reproductive health laws where they belong — to the states. As a result this decision will have no impact on New York's laws or access to reproductive health services for women and families in New York. Despite this reality, Albany politicians will sadly use this ruling to fear-monger and weaponize this issue for their own political gain. They will also attempt to expand abortion laws even further, forcing taxpayers to fund abortions, including late term abortions, for non-New Yorkers."
Schenectady County Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, a Democrat challenging state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, took the opportunity to attack him on his record, and he shot right back.
Ostrelich said: "State legislatures are literally the last line of defense for basic human rights and Democracy as we know it. The majority of New Yorkers are against the Supreme Court's action and want women to have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare. Yet Jim Tedisco's 40-year voting record shows he has voted against reproductive rights at every turn. As we face unprecedented assaults on our most personal freedoms — the freedom to control our own bodies — I encourage voters in this district and throughout the state to ask themselves a simple question: is your senator standing up for you?"
Tedisco said: "You can't get much more extreme than supporting full-term abortion with a grisly procedure that's not required to be done by a doctor and having no criminal penalty in place for someone who murders an unborn child that's wanted by the mother. Sadly, my opponent and her allies want to double-down on passing more extreme abortion laws by supporting a draconian scheme to grab people's hard-earned tax dollars to pay for abortion tourism to New York."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted:
"Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen. American women are having their rights taken by 5 unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court. These justices — appointed by Republicans and presiding without accountability — have stolen the fundamental right to abortion."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan:
"The Supreme Court has determined that women do not have the right to make their own health care decisions. This draconian ruling undermines reproductive freedom and will have a detrimental impact on women across the country."
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville:
"Today's historic Supreme Court decision is a victory for the sanctity of life, it will save countless innocent children. House Republicans are incredibly grateful for the pro-life movement's tireless efforts for decades leading to this day to give a voice to the voiceless and protect our most vulnerable — unborn babies."
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, posted on Facebook:
"I marched to the Supreme Court with my colleagues today to make our voice heard loud and clear: we will not allow the Court to turn back the clock on our nation and strip away our fundamental rights. We will not go back. The House passed the Women's Health Protection Act to codify Roe v. Wade. The Senate MUST do the same."
Sherry Levin Wallach, president, New York State Bar Association:
"In its ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a precedent that has stood for nearly 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has severely limited the civil rights of all American women. The court has overturned precedent before, but every other time the court was driven by the desire to expand individual rights — not to take them away. And if the right to choose an abortion is no longer protected, other constitutional rights that we hold dear could also be in jeopardy."
Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin, a U.S. congressman running for governor:
"Today is a victory for life, for family, for the constitution and for federalism. When my daughters, Mikayla and Arianna, were born 14.5 weeks early, I had the opportunity to witness life in the second trimester and it was absolutely beautiful. In a state that has legalized late term partial birth abortion and non-doctors performing abortion, in a state that refuses to advance informed consent and parental consent, and where not enough is being done to promote adoption and support mothers, today is yet another reminder that New York clearly needs to do a much better job to promote, respect and defend life."