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Rally against abortion bans brings lt. gov. to Hudson

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    State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to the crowd gathered outside Hudson Planned Parenthood, 804 Columbia St., on Tuesday. Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media
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    First Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga protest abortion bans across the country on Tuesday outside Hudson Planned Parenthood, 804 Columbia St. Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media
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    Judy Dryland and Roz Viemeister, both of Catskill, protest Tuesday at Hudson Planned Parenthood, 804 Columbia St., against abortion bans in the U.S. Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media
May 21, 2019 07:59 pm

HUDSON — Recent abortion bans in several states across the country drew crowds of protesters — including state Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul — to the city’s sidewalks on Tuesday.

The rally was held outside Upper Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood at 804 Columbia St., in unity with more than 400 events planned for a national day of action across the country, mostly around statehouses and courts.

“We have a Supreme Court and a president and a Senate that are hostile to the rights of women,” Hochul told the crowd. “So this is a battle. We may think we won the battle in the state of New York, but we have to be a beacon of hope to all these other states. And that is why we have to stand here. We have to let those women know they are not alone.”

Clad in a sea of pink in support of their cause, protesters from both sides of the Hudson River carried signs, rang bells, and shouted chants such as, “Women united, we’ll never be divided” and “Hey-hey, ho-ho, abortion ban has got to go.” Passersby honked their car horns in support.

In one of the most stringent bans in the nation, Alabama passed a law last week that makes performing an abortion a felony unless it is necessary for the mother’s health. The law provides no exception for rape and incest.

“The idea for particularly rape and incest — for things that are violent against women, this is just another act of violence to not be able to decide,” Catskill resident Judy Dryland said, while holding up a sign that read, “Together we fight for all.”

Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio recently passed laws banning abortion at about six weeks, when cardiac activity is usually detected. Meanwhile, a law is awaiting the governor’s signature in Missouri banning abortion at eight weeks.

The rally drew some local elected officials, including 1st Ward Supervisor Sarah Sterling, 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga.

“I am here in support of women’s rights,” Garriga said. “The government has no place telling a woman what to do with her body. And if anything was to happen, a woman knows first. And a woman should be able to seek medical attention without having to do it on her own. We’re going to fight for women’s rights and we’re going to get women’s rights.”

No counter-protesters were seen at the rally Tuesday, but a few passersby shouted their support for President Donald Trump.

Some expressed concern that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, is under threat, in part, because the president has appointed two conservative judges during his first term in office.

“We’re having to revisit this whole issue, unfortunately, we have to stand up for it and not lose the right, the choice,” Catskill resident Roz Viemeister said. “It is scary. I don’t want to go back.”

“It is scary that it its spreading,” she added. “It might not be New York, but it is spreading too quickly. You have to squash it.”

Hochul, wielding a gavel, presided while Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins told the State Senate that the state’s Reproductive Health Act had passed, she told the crowd. Hochul called it one of the “greatest days” of her life.

“We need to have this protection because we never know what is going to happen,” she said.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.