As thousands gathered across New York City in support of abortion rights Friday night, less than 12 hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined protesters in Union Square in Manhattan as they shared their abortion stories. She called on Americans to be “relentless to restore and guarantee all of our rights,” and then shared a personal story about the loss of federally guaranteed abortion rights.
“I myself, when I was about 22 or 23 years old, was raped when I was living here in New York City,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I was completely alone. In fact, I felt so alone that I had to take a pregnancy test in a public bathroom in midtown Manhattan. When I sat there waiting for what the result would be, all I could think was: Thank God I have, at least, a choice. Thank God I could, at least, have the freedom to choose my destiny.”
She added, “I didn’t know then, as I was waiting, that [the test] would come up negative. But it doesn’t matter. [Abortion] is for all of us.”
At the time she was raped—an experience Ocasio-Cortez first shared following the Jan. 6 insurrection—she had been working as a waitress. She shared that she accompanied several friends to abortion appointments during this time of her life as well.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to echo calls of other reproductive justice activists in demanding that President Joe Biden protect abortion access by opening clinics on federal land, protecting abortion providers as federal employees.
She was joined at the rally by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D)—the state’s first female governor—who followed Ocasio-Cortez’s speech with a pledge to ensure the state welcomes abortion seekers from across the country. Hochul expressed outrage, saying that “the Supreme Court doesn’t give a damn about us anymore.”
The governor informed protesters that the state has “allocated $35 million dollars to make sure that our abortion providers cannot just take care of our citizens, but we can be a safe harbor for women all across this country.” Addressing potential out-of-state abortion seekers directly, she said, “You come to New York and we will take care of you.”
Ahead of this evening’s protests, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) shared that when he was 15, his then-partner had an abortion, and that “she made the right decision because she was empowered, she was in control.” Adams also expressed support for expanding the Supreme Court to counter its current right-wing super majority.