"Hell no, Roe won't go." That was the chant Tuesday evening in Buffalo's Elmwood Village. Recent legislative actions around the country to place restrictions on abortions prompted the rally to "Stop the Bans."
The Western New York Resistance Revival Chorus hosted the demonstration with Planned Parenthood, the New York Abortion Access Fund and the Western New York Peace Center at Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway, as part of a nationwide call to action to protect Roe v. Wade.
Laura Fiorotto said she is not a member of any particular group, but joined the rally because she believes in women's rights, women's health rights and a woman's right to have an abortion.
"Personally, as a personal choice, I never would have had an abortion," she said, "but I believe women should have the choice about how big their family is. If they've been raped, I don't think they should be forced to have a child through rape or incest and it's a woman's choice what happens to her body and her life, not other people telling them what to do."
Fiorotto said a family member had an abortion before Roe. That relative had to see a psychologist three times before the procedure was allowed.
"At the time I was very young and I didn't know what was going on in my family," she said. "I found out when I was an adult what had happened. It was a very traumatic time for the person in my family that had the abortion. That and being a teenager when Roe passed, I was always pro-choice."
Heather Connor was among those displaying signs like "My Body, My Choice" at passing traffic.
"I was thinking when I made this sign that we are the United States and this is the Constitution," Connor said. "So I feel like there's just a lot of hot air going around right now and I want to just reaffirm that this is a U.S. Constitution law that protects every woman in this country, regardless of what state you're in and we're going to support them."
Connor said her mother fought for Roe v. Wade and she expects state actions to be overturned in federal challenges.
In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a measure codifying into New York State law the Roe rights allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Among other actions in recent months, Alabama and Ohio have banned most abortions, Georgia's governor signed a "fetal heartbeat" law and a federal judge blocked North Carolina's attempt to ban abortions later than 20 weeks.
Event Organizer Jennifer Page said Roe represents "a basic human right" that is being "chipped away."
"They're going to pay attention when people who are pro-choice run for office and take their jobs," Page said. "This is going to hurt a lot of people across the aisle. It takes all of us to make change for everyone. No one can be free if our bodies are regulated."