By Hannah Devlin
On June 24, the Supreme Court officially announced that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. The decision of Roe v. Wade is one that allowed women the right to terminate their pregnancies by abortion on the fundamental value of the “right to privacy,” as indicated by the Fourteenth Amendment.
With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion laws are now a state decision, and we have already seen attacks on reproductive rights and abortion clinics. With the recent court ruling, pregnancy loss–even natural miscarriages and stillbirths–are being investigated to see if there were deliberate attempts to interfere and terminate the pregnancy.
With these attacks on women’s reproductive healthcare, the Port Washington News reached out and spoke with Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti. After a career in public service in Nassau County, Sillitti is a first-time elected official and represents the 16th Assembly District, one which includes Port Washington and its neighboring towns.
In her press release statement, Sillitti said that: “There has been a slow and steady assault on women’s rights for decades… the courts have said women don’t get to decide what happens with our own bodies…We don’t get to decide whether to have a heartbreaking miscarriage naturally or allow a doctor to intervene sparing excruciating pain. We are instead leaving it in the hands of state legislatures that look to control women.”
In a private interview with Sillitti, she expanded on this idea: “I really believe that what this boils down to is to control women. [You hear] all the different stories and all the different reasons that women choose to end their pregnancies, or if a pregnancy has ended and they want to have a procedure to stop the pain or [if there is a threat] to the woman.”
In America, both abortion and miscarriage occur over a million times per year and, clinically, the two processes are often extremely similar. The lines between the two are further blurred in light of this decision and recent legislation.
For example, one Texas law passed recently lists and bars the use of several abortion-inducing medications and drugs. Included on this list are misoprostol and mifepristone, the only drugs recommended for treating early pregnancy loss. With threats on access to these drugs and medications, there is not only an attack on abortion but there is a direct interference on the ability to heal after natural processes, like a miscarriage.
What the Supreme Court has decided will not only ban abortion in certain areas but it will ban a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body and her life.
“[The Supreme Court] just [doesn’t] understand what women have to go through and the choices that they have to make,” Sillitti continued.
In a 5-4 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, four of the five justices in favor of overturning the case were men. However, there are numerous reasons that women may choose to have an abortion that men are incapable of understanding. Whether there is a case of rape, incest, financial struggle, emotional or physical danger involved, these are all factors that men cannot relate to in regard to abortion.
The decision to carry out or terminate a pregnancy is not one that men will ever have to make.
Sillitti continued to explain what New York state aims to do in support of women. In her press release, Sillitti said that “[She is] proud to represent a state that protects a woman’s right to decide what happens to her own body and one that values women. A state that also empowers reproductive healthcare providers and safeguards them from retaliation.”
At this point, the state asks itself two questions, Sillitti explains: “‘What can New York do?’ and ‘what can [it] do better?’”
In order to take action, Sillitti has co-sponsored five different pieces of legislation that were passed in order to defend reproductive rights. This legislation aimed to help in a variety of different ways. In order to empower healthcare providers, these bills aim to protect workers from misconduct charges, prohibit extradition, allow volunteers and providers to apply to the state’s Address Confidentiality Program and prevent unlawful interference of legal abortions.
In her press release, Sillitti makes it clear that she is not only dedicated to women in her district and her state, but that she is dedicated to ensuring the rights of women throughout the nation: “Make no mistake about it, women will travel to New York for healthcare, and we will protect them.”