Queens Rally for Reproductive Rights
On Saturday, October 2nd, at 11:00am people across the world’s borough rallied at Queens Borough Hall in solidarity with our neighbors in Texas and in any state restricting our abortion rights and to demand an end to the dangerous, escalating attacks on reproductive rights and freedoms in this country. This was one of 600+ actions happening across the United States on this day. Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing arguments about Texas’ abortion law on November 1st, following are highlights from the rally
GOOD MORNING QUEENS!
It is great to be with y’all today!
My name is Danielle Brecker. I am a Co-lead Organizer of Empire State Indivisible. But more importantly I live in Long Island City in the borough of Queens where people from every part of the world come to live. And where we always always stand up for our rights and the rights of our neighbors — be it our neighbors across the street or our neighbors across our country.
I am hosting this rally today with my partner in “good trouble” Melissa Bair. Melissa and I met two years ago standing in line to hear Senator Elizabeth Warren speak at a NARAL reproductive rights town hall. Melissa is a Mom and Midwife and kick ass organizer, please let’s give it up for Melissa!
Please tag anything you post today with #AbortionJustice
We want to start today with a moment of silence. Sadly there are so many reason we could have a moment of silence but today we want to take this moment to center on every person who has lost their life from an unsafe abortion.
Our first speaker today is the Nassau County Delegate for New York’s National Organization for Women and serves as a representative for National Nurses United in the fight for Medicare for All. A healthcare advocate, Mom of three, tireless activist and organizer, and current candidate running for congress in NY-3, which includes parts of Queens, please welcome my friend, Melanie D’Arrigo.
“Reproductive justice is a healthcare issue that expands beyond abortion. And while we are here to ensure that women, non-binary people and queer people always have the ability to obtain an abortion, this is also about fighting for sex education, free testing for STDs and mammograms, pre and post-natal care, access to contraceptives and access to healthcare in our communities. This is about us having bodily autonomy and the resources we need to obtain the healthcare we need. “ — Melanie D’Arrigo
I met our next speaker in-person for the first time today, but in corresponding with her in preparation for this rally she has been incredibly supportive and expressed a deep commitment to fight for reproductive rights. Please welcome the Democratic Nominee for City Council in the 29th District, Lynn Schulman.
“We can not allow extremists to control women’s bodies. No one should prevent a person from accessing health care, especially reproductive health care. As New Yorkers, we must speak up against dangerous precedents like what is happening in Texas and we must fight to protect reproductive rights for everyone.” — Lynn Schulman
In early 2017, our next speaker spoke to the group that I co-lead, Empire State Indivisible. He told us that Roe vs Wade was not codified in New York State because a group of senators elected as democrats caucused with republicans — holding up all sorts of needed legislation including codifying Roe.
Empire State Indivisible went on to work together with many other groups, many of you, and our next speaker to change that!
And we did! Roe vs. Wade is now codified in NYS. Local elections matter.
Please welcome my local elected leader and our great ally, my state senator and the Deputy ”super” Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Michael Gianaris.
“The fight for reproductive rights has never been more essential. While we succeeded in codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade in law in New York State, we have much work to do to oppose attacks against these basic freedoms across the country.” — NYS Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris
From the office of Queens Borough President Donavan Richards, please welcome Deputy Borough President Rhonda Binda.
“Access to reproductive healthcare should be a no brainer but unfortunately in the year 2021, we still have to fight for women’s rights. Reproductive rights are human rights. Everyone can make their own decisions on their bodies, and we don’t need the Supreme Court or politicians to tell us otherwise. Queens stands with Women’s March, advocates and all the outstanding reproductive health providers and organizations in the fight for sexual health and abortion justice,” — Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.
Our next speaker will likely serve the constituents of my city council district and be the first women to do so! She will be part of the most diverse and female New York City Council in our city’s history. Please welcome Democratic Nominee for City Council in the 26th District, Julie Won
“Abortion is a human right, and a threat to human rights anywhere is a threat to human rights everywhere. We stand in solidarity with folks in Mississippi, Texas, and across the country, who are being denied their bodily autonomy. We deserve complete control over our reproductive health, and nothing less.” — Julie Won
Our next speaker is an Ob/Gyn at the North Bronx Healthcare Network, a women’s healthcare advocate, an ambassador of wellness and a social media influencer — you should all follow her on Instagram! Please welcome my neighbor in Long Island City, Dr. Heather Irobunda.
“Access to abortion care is an essential tenet of reproductive justice. If we don’t speak up to protect access, we are endangering lives!” — Dr. Heather Irobunda
At the local and federal level, VOTING is the key to protecting our reproductive rights and all of our rights! Just over two weeks ago, our next speaker joined me at a rally calling for the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act because she understands this. Please welcome the Member of Congress for the only congressional district fully in Queens, Congresswoman Grace Meng.
“With reproductive rights under attack in our country, it is more important than ever to do all we can to protect them. The Texas law, and other barriers that threaten the right to choose, are devastating for so many women and families. Whether in Texas or Queens, I stand with everybody across the nation fighting for reproductive freedom. All people deserve to make their own healthcare decisions.” — Congresswoman Grace Meng
I went to the first women’s march in Washington D.C. with my Mom who could not believe she was marching for reproductive and other rights AGAIN!
Roe vs Wade was decided when I was two years old but as an adult, decades after that decision, I am still fighting the same fight that my Mom and so many others fought long before I was born.
This must change now!
Our next speaker has been fighting for our rights for her entire career, in City Council and in Congress. In Council, the first woman to give birth while serving and the first to propose a comprehensive package of legislation to make day care more available and affordable. In Congress, she is the chief House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and the chair of the House Oversight Committee. Please welcome my representative, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
“Two years ago, my first hearing as Chair of the Oversight Committee was about draconian abortion restrictions in Missouri. Today, the attacks are even worse. 2021 is on pace to break the record for the number of state-level abortion restrictions passed into law. They are not just chipping away at our rights — they are bulldozing right through them. For many people, abortion means freedom — freedom to control our bodies and our futures. We must act now to protect this fundamental right before it is too late.” — Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Our next speaker lives in Astoria and is an attorney, reproductive rights activist and Executive Director of the Women’s Equality Center. Please welcome Paula Avila-Guillen.
“From Texas to New York, our rights will keep being under attack by oppressive governments. But our fight for reproductive autonomy is unstoppable. We will never stop fighting for reproductive justice. And this is a fight that I know we will win, because our freedom and our life depends on it.” — Paula Avila-Guillen
I have endless admiration and respect for our next speaker. She has boundless energy, passion, knowledge and ideas for the cause of justice. She always shows up to fight for a better, less corrupt, more equitable and just New York and for the rights of all New Yorkers.
NOW, she is not from Queens but I think she fits in here perfectly.
Please welcome Constitutional law professor and one of the countries’ leading anti-corruption lawyers, who has been fighting to expand womens’ access to healthcare in New York for the last decade, along with being a leading advocate for filibuster and judicial reform, Zephyr Teachout.
“Abortion rights are core constitutional rights, and we will not let law be torn down to allow people to destroy women’s dignity and equality.” — Zephyr Teachout
Our final speaker today is the former Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, an organization that advocates for access to affordable health and reproductive care for Latinx and immigrant communities. Elected to the New York State Assembly in 2020, in just her first term representing District 34 in Queens, she has fought relentlessly for working families, to tax the rich, to invest in underserved communities, for climate justice and, of course, to expand access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. Please welcome Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
“As a national reproductive justice advocate, I know that the fight for access to abortion in Texas is our fight here in New York State too. SB8 is only one of many examples of legislation that has been introduced and some that have passed that seeks to rob a person’s bodily autonomy. We must resist these efforts everywhere. There is still a lot we can do here in New York as well. That is why I call on my colleagues in Queens county and across the state to support my bill, A7573, which would require that any facility that provides maternity care also cover abortion care.” — Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.
More than 110+ organizations joined forces to take part in the #RallyforAbortionJustice, organized by Women’s March, to show that Americans’ overwhelmingly support Roe vs Wade and that this is nothing more than another unacceptable Right Wing power grab to control the bodies, futures and lives of pregnant and birthing people.
As an Indivisible, I remind you to call your lawmakers, even those who stood with us on October 2nd. Remind them of that and that we want expanded abortion + reproductive healthcare access in New York and Federal laws to end the filibuster, protect abortion rights and expand the Supreme Court!
Photos by Daniel Lehrhaupt.