Hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that said Americans had a constitutional right to abortion, a grassroots rally in New Brunswick protesting the decision was already planned.
The Decision Day rally at City Hall Friday evening was organized as a show of support for reproductive health by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Meanwhile, in Perth Amboy, the answering machine at the Planned Parenthood location reminded callers the facility was open and providing all sexual and reproductive health care services, including abortions. Perth Amboy police were monitoring the location for protests.
“To be clear: abortion is still legal and available in New Jersey. It is your right that is protected in New Jersey state law," said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey vice president of public affairs.
“The Supreme Court has ended our federal constitutional right to abortion and overturned Roe v. Wade — turning its back on nearly 50 years of precedent. The court has failed us all — especially Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other people of color who are disproportionately harmed by abortion bans due to this country's legacy of racism and discrimination. This outrageous decision will fuel efforts by state politicians to ban abortion in states across the U.S., forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care, or remain pregnant against their will," Wojtowicz continued.
“This decision goes against the will of the people: 80% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. This decision won’t stop us. We will rebuild and reclaim the freedom that is ours," she said.
Story continues below gallery
The Catholic Church held a different view.
In a statement, the Diocese of Metuchen, which covers Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren counties, welcomed the high court's ruling.
"In its ruling, the Supreme Court has corrected the duplicitous reasoning in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which permitted the lawful killing of innocent life. As a Church, we are grateful to God for this blessing on our land and move to continue our work in building up a culture of life that supports all mothers and families in need. Today's ruling validates that even the most innocent and dependent human beings have a right to life.," the statement said.
"The Church professes that all life is sacred. Therefore, we are obligated as Catholics to work and preserve life from all laws or conditions that seek to diminish it. We are a people who not only believe that abortion is wrong, but other measures to terminate life like euthanasia, assisted suicide, and capital punishment has no place in our society," the statement continued. "Abortion, by its very nature, degrades life. The intentional taking of life does nothing but reduce life to a choice and declares life is only valued when desired, creating a culture where human life in its most vulnerable state can easily be discarded."
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, which covers Union County, said the court's ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide recognizes that even the most helpless and dependent human beings have a right to life and possess inherent dignity and worth.
"The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred, from conception to natural death. We must oppose the many threats to human life and dignity evident in contemporary society, including abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and capital punishment," Tobin said a statement. "Abortion represents a failure to recognize the sanctity of human life and promotes a culture in which human life in its most vulnerable moment is perceived as disposable. It is telling that in the public debate, the unborn child frequently disappears from the moral calculus."
Tobin said abortion is not health care.
"It is a disastrous attempt to create a false equivalency between the taking of innocent human life and the ‘reproductive health’ of women in our society. It results in inhuman and lethal consequences," Tobin said. "We recognize that a woman’s decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful. A woman who takes this desperate action is often under great duress and is encouraged by social structures that are patently sinful. As people who care deeply for all women struggling with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, we must ensure that life-giving options are available and our support does not end simply with the birth of a child."
Local legislators, however, said they remained committed to ensuring access to reproductive health care services in New Jersey remains legal, safe and accessible.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade with today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, Trump’s conservative majority has undone decades of advocacy and legal precedent to empower state laws that are already taking their toll on countless women and families. Thankfully, New Jersey proactively codified Roe v. Wade in January," Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said in a statement
“Standing by reproductive rights and a woman’s right to make decisions for herself, we will carefully evaluate the court’s decision and any possible impact on New Jersey. We are nevertheless left appalled by this majority of right-wing extremist justices and wholeheartedly support a woman’s right to choose," he added.
Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex, expressed shock at the high court's decision.
"This changes everything - before we were fighting to maintain our rights and now, we must join together and search for ways to take them back," she said in a statement. “Six conservative justices ignored 50 years of legal precedent and betrayed the American people - revoking the rights of women and their ability to make decisions about their own bodies. As a mother and a lawmaker, as a woman, I ask myself how we ended up here today, battling for a basic human right that we have had for decades."
“Women’s rights and freedoms have been under attack for so long and now, what we have always feared has become a reality; one of our most fundamental freedoms has been stripped away by the nation’s highest court. Though I'm proud that New Jersey has historically acted quickly to protect our reproductive freedoms, we will be looking closely at our options to make certain that these basic protections are provided to all women in New Jersey, no matter what happens,” she added.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Roe v. Wade overturned by Supreme Court: Central NJ reacts