Rallies held across NJ to protest, and praise, Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

·6 min read

Immediately following the overturning of Roe v Wade, protests and some celebrations cropped up across the state on Friday.

Several hundred people packed tiny Spiotta Park in downtown South Orange at a rally organized by Blue Wave New Jersey and a host of organizations including Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women, the ACLU and the League of Women Voters.

Mila Jasey, who represents South Orange in the state assembly said, “The day we have awaited with dread has arrived.

“Roe v. Wade, the cornerstone of our fundamental right to privacy and autonomy over our bodies and reproductive choice, is no more.”

Jasey, who introduced the reproductive freedom access bill in January, where it was codified into law, reminded those present that New Jersey women will continue to have legal access to abortion. 

Still, she pointed out that despite those protections, many in the state do not have access to reproductive and prenatal health care due to financial barriers, and urged the expansion of existing laws.

NYC: Roe v. Wade protests: Marchers go from Union Square to Washington Square Park

Jasey said that she attended her 50th college reunion this year and "cannot believe that we are still debating this issue.

“Its not right. Without access there is no equity. Access is a moral imperative. We won’t go back. Ever.”

(Right) Olivia VanDevusse holds a sign during a gathering of abortion-rights supporters in South Orange reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.
(Right) Olivia VanDevusse holds a sign during a gathering of abortion-rights supporters in South Orange reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Rabbi Allie Klein, Rabbi at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in Maplewood, spoke about her and her husband’s decision to terminate her pregnancy at 20 weeks on receiving the news that the fetus had severe spina bifida. The doctors had told the couple that if the baby survived, he or she would never be able to walk or even use the bathroom.

“Look at me and tell me that I am not fit to make decisions about my own body,” she said.

Klein said that in Jewish teaching, a fetus does not have personhood until birth and if the mother’s life is at risk, physically or emotionally, by carrying the pregnancy to term, Jews are obligated to end the pregnancy to save the pregnant person’s life.

“To prevent me from exerting my right to choose is an impingement on Jewish beliefs and my ability to freely practice my religion,” she said. “Look at me. I dare you to call me a murderer. Look at me and tell me I am not capable of knowing what is best for myself and my family.

“Today we will mourn but we will not despair; we will channel our righteous anger into action.

“This is not over, Clarence Thomas. This is not over Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. And this is definitely not over, Brett Kavanaugh.

“We will hold these supposed justices accountable for this grave act of injustice. We the people will have the last word. Get out of our way. “

A gathering of abortion-rights supporters in South Orange reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.
A gathering of abortion-rights supporters in South Orange reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill called in from Washington. “I want to say how happy I am to see everyone coming out across New Jersey and across the nation to show how deeply incensed we are to see these rollbacks by a court that has become extreme and political,” she said.

More: Roe v. Wade protests and celebrations: Where people are gathering in New Jersey

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka called the Supreme Court decision a “violent and repressive action of the United States Supreme Court and the people that support them.

“These are the same folks that will tell you they are trying to protect life but do not have the courage to protect 9 and 10 year-olds in schools.

“The same people who say they want to protect life but refuse to make sure they give people the means to have a good life – an opportunity for food and shelter and clothing and equity.

“They would rather control women’s bodies than give them the opportunity to make choices on their own; to allow this country to be free and equal. They would rather do those things because it keeps them in power.”

Amol Sinha, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, urged protestors to prepare for a “battle ahead.”

“The fight to overturn Roe v. Wade didn’t happen overnight. They were setting up for 50 years – staffing courts, finding judges, planning strategy on the local and federal levels and every level in between.

“Our solution is not going to be overnight either,” he said. “I’m in this for the long haul, if you are.”

Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, the president of the state teacher’s union, the New Jersey Education Association, pointed out that the rollback will hit the economically disadvantaged the hardest.

“Those who have money, those who have wealth, those who have power – they will find a way to get abortion care if they need it. Those who are poor, those who are marginalized, they will be the ones left with difficult choices, difficult options and likely terrible outcomes.”

Hetty Rosenstein of NJ Resistance, who said that her mother was in attendance, led the protesters in a call-and-response chant. .

“We stand on the shoulders of our mothers.”

“Who never would give in.”

“We fight for the future of our daughters.

"“When we fight, we win.”

Pro-life rally in Morristown

Pro-life advocates lauded the closely watched decision that wiped clear national reproductive rights that had been in place for nearly five decades.

Morris County Right to Life, a county chapter of the New Jersey pro-life organization, celebrated the decision on the sidewalks of the Morristown Green Friday afternoon, in one of 100 similar "Decision Day" rallies nationwide.

Lisa Hart, vice president of the Morris chapter, said, "Roe v. Wade had been an open wound in our body politic ever since the day it was decided more than 49 years ago."

She continued, "But today the healing can finally begin, starting with state laws that protect human life in the womb and provide help and hope for their mothers.”

Morris County Right to Life demonstrated on The Green after it was announced that Roe vs Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. The demonstration took place in Morristown, NJ on June 24, 2022.
Morris County Right to Life demonstrated on The Green after it was announced that Roe vs Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. The demonstration took place in Morristown, NJ on June 24, 2022.

A group of 25 people gathered in prayer and songs, with attendees holding signs with messages "Justice for All: Born & Reborn," "Roe is History" and "Stop Abortion Now." The rally was met with car "honks" of approval by numerous passerbys while others shouted profanities at the group.

Chris Bell, another of the speakers at the rally, told attendees not to engage in a war of words with those opposed to their message, but to pray for them instead.

"Anyone who thinks the taking of a life of a tiny, innocent, conceived child is right is in deep darkness and doesn't know what they were at the beginning of their conception," he said.

More rallies are planned in New Jersey supporting and protesting the ruling this weekend.

Julia Martin is the 2021 recipient of the New Jersey Society for Professional Journalists' David Carr award for her coverage of Montclair for NorthJersey.com.

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Email: jmartin@gannettnj.com

Twitter: @TheWriteJulia 

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Roe v. Wade ruling spur protests, praise across New Jersey