ITHACA, N.Y.—Chants, calls to action and impassioned speeches rang through the Commons in downtown Ithaca Tuesday afternoon as local residents reacted to a leaked Supreme Court opinion indicating the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.

The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, would enable states around the country to prohibit abortions entirely, ending federal protections against full-scale prohibitions in states. It appears to have enough support from fellow conservative justices that it would pass, though a different version could eventually be chosen as the final decision. The court’s decision does not become official until it is published in June.

Though the news didn’t break until Monday evening, by mid-day Tuesday a rally at Bernie Milton Pavilion had been organized and by 5:15 p.m., dozens of people had arrived toting signs and ready to heed various requests from a series of speakers. Many of the attendees, maybe even a vast majority, were young adults.

“Healthcare is a human right,” the crowd chanted at one point. “Fight, fight, fight.” They were speaking more on behalf of others than those in New York, as New York codified Roe v. Wade’s protections into its own law in 2019.

A long list of speakers addressed the crowd, including NYS Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke. Some of the speakers relayed personal experiences while others urged attendees to vote in upcoming elections and donate to Planned Parenthood, or other similar organizations.

One speaker brought up her own abortion experience in the 1960s, saying that because it took place before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, she was forced to have it done secretively. Based on that story she expressed a fear of many in the crowd: that if abortions are illegalized completely in certain states, people in those states will turn to “back-alley abortions,” or abortions conducted without suitable safety standards with potentially severe health repercussions on someone seeking an abortion.

One person added that they hoped people from New York State didn’t immediately forget about the issue and dismiss it as a “blue state/red state” difference. Trying to build solidarity without condescending to people from states that may soon trigger abortion legalization legislation is essential, the speaker said.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at