The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade came after 50 years of the established right to protect abortion. The landmark ruling by the Supreme Court has highlighted a growing rift among Long Islanders.
In New York, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and if pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or child. In 2019 there were 5,656 abortions on Long Island with 2,996 from Nassau and 2,660 in Suffolk.
Reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision are divided, with the possibility of reconciliation from either side doubtful. On the North Shore many argued their perspectives were a matter of deep principle.
Some said they are afraid, agitated and are mourning the loss of what they consider to be a constitutional right. “I have a 21-year-old daughter, and she now has less rights than I did, and that is distressing.” Rose Ventura, of Glen Cove, said. Ventura fears limiting abortion restricts bodily autonomy and safety for women. And she worries about a world that offers fewer options for her daughter. “Overturning Roe isn’t going to stop abortion. It’s going to stop safe abortion,” she said.
Those supporting the overturn of Roe are grateful, saying there will be a decrease in what it considers to be an act of violence and dehumanization. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, who oversee religious guidance for the 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island, believes the overturn of Roe has rectified decades of injustice, devastation to families, and returned the dignity of women, and culture.
The office of John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, issued the following statement: “Just as we look back now with approval at Brown v. Board of Education, which reversed the wrongly decided, longstanding precedent on racial segregation, we pray that one day the good sense behind overturning Roe v. Wade will be acknowledged with the same universal respect.”
The reason why Locust Valley resident Lawrence Allen doesn’t support the reversal of Roe is because he worries about enacting personhood on a cellular level.
“That makes absolutely no sense to me on biological grounds, philosophical grounds, ethical grounds or legal grounds,” the retired lawyer said. The decision to nullify Roe is one of the worst decisions the Supreme Court has made, he said, and it was done for purely ideological reasons. “I think society is heading in a terrible place and we’re going to regret this, because now what we’re doing is letting the government make decisions about the most personal aspects of our human life. “
Longstanding pro-life advocates like Marie Coyle, of Glen Cove, worried that when Roe was the law that that the potential for human life was dismissed. She said use of the term “fetus” places distance on a devastating situation.
“Killing something is not the answer,” Coyle said. “If you disrespect life at its earliest time, you then essentially disrespect it anytime.”
She added that she credits her perspective to her life experience, personal anecdotes and partially to her Catholic upbringing.
North Shore residents supporting the overturn were least likely to speak publicly of their views, often expressing fear of community backlash.
“If the culture of your state doesn’t match your particular values you have the freedom to move from one state to another.” Irene Chivily, of Bayville, reasoned. “If we lived in one country where everyone has the same values and the same culture, we’d have less freedom to think independently.”
Many residents like Chivily said they think the federal government should not have jurisdiction on what they consider to be a state right.