A viral video of a man in New York telling abortion rights activists he “owns” their bodies and that he, and others like him, will impregnate people as they wish if Roe v. Wade is overturned, pretty much sums it up for those of us interested in preserving the rights to our own human bodies: This is about control.
Last week, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court was leaked showing that the conservative-dominated high court is now poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a law that for nearly five decades has empowered women and people who can become pregnant to take their health care—and their future—into their own hands.
The draft leak sparked protests throughout the nation and over Mother’s Day weekend, demonstrations had not abated. This was especially true in New York City, where protesters for and against abortion rights—and reportedly, some alleged members of a white nationalist movement—showed up in large numbers at the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Related story: Supreme Court in disarray: New leaks reveal Roberts’ own preferred Roe reversal
Anti-abortion activists have demonstrated at the site before and at a nearby Planned Parenthood. Groups defending access to clinics, like the grassroots network New York City for Abortion, hold counterprotests at the church and at the area clinic on the first Saturday of every month.
Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
This weekend, as pro-abortion rights activists showed up at the Basilica to demand that Roe remain law of the land, their chants of “Not the church, not the state, the people must decide their fate,” were met with a telling rebuke.
A man wearing a sweater with a New York City Fire Department logo and “America First” cap taunted them and gestured to them as he spoke:
“I am the people. I am the people. I am the people. The people have decided. The court has decided. You lose. You have no choice. Not your body, not your choice. Your body is mine and you’re having my baby,” he said.
As the clip went viral, the FDNY responded on Monday saying the man was not a firefighter or affiliated with the department.
“A video circulating from a protest in Manhattan over the weekend shows an individual wearing a FDNY sweatshirt. The individual in the video is not a member of the FDNY. The comments made do not represent the views of the FDNY. The matter is under investigation," said Frank Dwyer, the department’s deputy commissioner for public information.
Independent video journalist Sandi Bachom of New York covered the protests at Old St. Pat’s on Sunday. She told Daily Kos Monday that when she arrived on site, she asked the man wearing the blue “America First” hat if he was a member of the “Groyper” movement and if he was part of the group that chanted “Christ is King.”
The man said yes, Bachom said.
The Anti-Defamation League has identified “Groypers” as a loosely-organized white supremacist group that presents its racist ideology with more “nuance than other groups in the white supremacist sphere.”
They use Christianity as an effective cover to espouse these views, the ADL notes, and often argue that they are trying to preserve a “true America” with “traditional” Christian values.
Groypers describe themselves as being part of the “America First” movement. When a question of the group’s rhetoric or conduct is raised, Groyper figurehead Nick Fuentes has deflected, telling reporters he considers the word “racist” to be an “anti-white slur.”
Notably, Fuentes, along with Patrick Casey, the leader of the “America First” movement, were both subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee this January. Chairman Bennie Thompson noted in letters to Fuentes and Casey that both of the men were present on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 and also participated in various pro-Trump events in Washington in the run-up to the Jan. 6 attack, including at the “Million MAGA March” on Nov. 14, 2021.
At that rally, where Trump’s election fraud lies were on bold display, Fuentes told the crowd to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years,” Thompson wrote.
Fuentes also attended the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Georgia on Nov. 19, alongside right-wing conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Ali Alexander. At another function on Dec. 12, 2020, Fuentes told a crowd gathered there that the Republican Party should be entirely destroyed since it failed to overturn the election for Trump. The safe harbor deadline for states to submit votes passed just a few days before Fuentes made these remarks.
Meanwhile, much, if not the same ideology that drove extremists and insurrectionists on Jan. 6 to forcibly stop the transfer of power and subvert the will of some 80 million fellow Americans is shaded here.
Abortion, for now, is still legal in the United States. However, if Roe is struck down, a large number of states have “trigger” laws already on the book and they will work rapidly to stifle access to what can be—and routinely is—a safe, humanely performed reproductive health service.
As things tend to go with prohibition and as historical data has shown, bans on abortion do not stop people from getting abortions—the supposed thrust of the anti-abortion movement.
The reversal of Roe or the tightening of restrictions through near total-bans or total bans will only make getting an abortion more dangerous.
Though the Supreme Court has not yet rendered a final decision—it is expected sometime in June—some blue-leaning states like New York and California are already rolling out proposals aimed at people who could be forced to flee their home states in search of safe abortion access.
On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that lawmakers have proposed legislation that would infuse abortion care providers there and other related nonprofit organizations with more cash in order to expand access even further to the uninsured or to those with a low income.
In California, the state’s legislature rolled out a suite of bills in recent days aimed at creating a “sanctuary status” for individuals seeking an abortion and other reproductive health care. At least two dozen more bills are still yet to be proposed, ABC News reported Monday.
Related story: If SCOTUS kills Roe, many states are poised to swiftly enforce abortion restriction bans, sweeping restrictions