East End Pols React to News Roe v. Wade May Be Overturned

Roe v. Wade
Police officers walk outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito preparing for a majority of the court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision later this year, in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

News that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the half-century-old landmark verdict guaranteeing women’s abortion rights sent shockwaves across the nation, including on the East End, where local leaders’ opinions varied.

New York State and congressional lawmakers proposed legislation confirming abortion rights after a draft opinion leaked to Politico suggested on May 2 that the high court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case — although Twin Forks area lawmakers appear split on backing such a measure.

“Here in New York, we must stand vigilant in the face of this ill-considered decision and reaffirm that access to abortions remains protected by the 2019 Reproductive Health Act passed by the Legislature,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor). “Through this time of uncertainty, the need for bold and decisive action has never been more apparent and urgent. I call on our partners in Congress to codify abortion rights for all.”

Fred Thiele
Fred ThieleT. E. McMorrow

A decision to overrule Roe v. Wade would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year’s elections. But it’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter — opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process. U.S.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said if it stands the Senate will vote on legislation to uphold women’s access to abortions.

Avoiding a question on how he would vote was pro-life U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the congressman who represents the East End and is the Republican gubernatorial nominee seeking to unseat Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who said she supports affirming aborting rights.

Lee Zeldin
Lee Zeldin

“The unprecedented leak that came out of the U.S. Supreme Court is very concerning and needs to be investigated,” Zeldin said, commenting on the leak itself but not the proposal. “Accountability must follow.”

Democratic candidates running for the seat Zeldin is vacating said they would back such a measure, affirming abortion rights, if the ruling holds and an abortion bill comes up for a vote.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said, “We must fight for the young women of today and tomorrow for their bodily autonomy, constitutional rights, and safety.”

State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) noted the Empire State is in a unique scenario.

“It will be a very important decision when it is issued,” Palumbo said. “However, New York’s abortion law predates Roe v. Wade, and that law will remain on the books even if Roe is overturned.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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