Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday evening to protest the possibility of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed the right to abortion for nearly half a century.
Many of those there wore green, which has become a signature color for abortion rights campaigners, and brandished everything from neat, preprinted signs from Planned Parenthood to recycled cardboard covered in furious Sharpie messages.
The New York State attorney general, Letitia James, was in attendance, and shared that she herself had an abortion years ago when she was new in the City Council. She encouraged people to turn their anger into action.
“This is a call to action, this is a five-alarm fire, my friends,” Ms. James shouted to the crowd, which erupted with cheers. “This is a time to act, this is not the time to be silent because silence is the enemy right now.”
The gathering included others who had had abortions, like Marcy Kempner, 60, who said, firmly, that she wanted to see “women’s health codified in law.”
“Having this at the whim of the Supreme Court and all the shenanigans that go on around, that is not a way to have a free and fair country,” said Ms. Kempner, who works in sports television.
Derek Holmes, 26, said he attended the event because he had “been in a situation where having an abortion saved me from becoming an ill-equipped father.”
The event also attracted people who were newer to advocating for abortion rights, including a dozen teenagers from Trinity, a private school on the Upper West Side.
“I am disappointed this became a reality,” said Juliet O’Shea, 17. “Last year, we attended the Women’s March. We were protecting our rights then. Today we are fighting for them.”
Anna Wong, 15, brought the same sign she had taken to the Women’s March, saying she had kept it to remember the experience, “not use it again.”
If the Court follows through and overturns Roe, states would determine whether abortion is legal. Thirteen states would ban abortion immediately or very quickly. New York is not one of those states. New York’s legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019, which ensures the right to abortion in New York State if Roe were overturned.
Kathy Hochul, the state’s first female governor, gathered for an emotional rally in Albany with other lawmakers, including the newly appointed lieutenant governor, Antonio Delgado.
Ms. Hochul said that the fight for equality was in the state’s DNA dating back to the suffragist movement.
“The Statue of Liberty stands in our harbor, reaching out her hand to all those who are oppressed,” said Ms. Hochul. “If you live in a state where they are willing to strip away your rights, then you are also among the oppressed.”
She added: “You come to New York. This is your safe harbor. Come to our state and we’ll take care of you.”
The Manhattan borough president, Mark Levine, said at the rally in Foley Square that it was important that New York State had enshrined abortion rights, and that the state needed to continue being a national leader on the issue.
“We need to make it clear that we welcome with open arms anyone from around the country,” said Mr. Levine, who wore a green striped tie and a green cloth in his breast pocket. “It should be free here and we should facilitate transportation here for anyone who wants to pay for it.”
Karen Zraick and Grace Ashford contributed reporting.