Oct. 4—PLATTSBURGH — Taking aim at the Supreme Court and Texas' S.B. 8 bill, students and residents organized a stationary demonstration by the Plattsburgh City Marina Saturday in defense of reproductive health and rights.
"We need to come together because abortions are a basic health care right, and women's rights, trans rights are basic health care necessities that need to be met by our government," Kathleen Watt, a SUNY Plattsburgh senior who organized the demonstration said.
Watt said she was shocked after she learned that the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law that bans abortions at six weeks, a time period before many people don't know they are pregnant, to go into effect in September instead of intervening.
"I knew that was something I couldn't stand for," Watt said in front of a crowd assembled at the city marina. "Women's rights are human rights."
Texas' controversial law allows residents to file lawsuits against anyone who assists a pregnant person in getting an abortion past the six-week limit. A successful lawsuit could net plaintiffs $10,000 and attorney fees paid by the defendants.
"[The law] creates a bounty system," Raymond Carman, a SUNY Plattsburgh associate professor and constitutional law scholar, said Saturday.
Enforcing the law through private citizens pursuing civil litigation, the Justice Department argued in its lawsuit against Texas filed days after its law went into effect, "insulates the state from responsibility."
The enforcement of the law creates a gray area that Carman notes is being looked at by other states for them to exploit.
"Eleven states are currently planning to use this law as a blueprint," he said.
"Texas will not be the only one. Other states that have been looking to ban abortions will be using this, and if the Supreme Court isn't willing to stop it, then there will be no way to stop these laws from happening."
The law's "bounty system," could also be used to threaten other rights like same-sex marriage, Carman said.
Kimberly Davis, Clinton Country's treasurer and co-founder of North Country Women United, a political action committee that looks to elect women to state and local offices in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, said male-dominated legislatures is what led to bills like Texas' S.B. 8.
"The Texas legislature is made up of a majority of men," she said. "In its 175-year history, Texas has elected 5,444 men. Guess how many women they have elected? 179."
But Davis said S.B. 8 isn't just a Texas issue. What happened there, could happen anywhere, she said.
"If women don't have a seat at the table in government, we do not have a voice," Davis said. "We're in the City of Plattsburgh right now. There has never been a woman who has been mayor of the City of Plattsburgh. We're also in Clinton County, where one of the 10 legislatures is a woman."
"We have to ask women to run. We have to volunteer to run. We have to support women to run because that is the only way that we affect change," Davis continued.
Email Fernando Alba: