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Marches held in Rochester and Seneca Falls for reproductive rights

(WXXI News & AP) Hundreds of people marched in both Rochester and Seneca Falls on Saturday as part of nationwide protests demanding continued access to abortion.

The demonstrations happened days before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by President Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court.

In Seneca Falls, where the women’s suffrage movement was launched, Governor Kathy Hochul was among the speakers.

Hochul said the issue is personal for her, as she introduced her daughter Katie, “who I will continue to fight for her rights as long as I can take a breath and then she will carry on the fight for her children and her grandson; that’s what we’re doing because we are sharing the torch today and someday I’ll be passing the torch to all the young women, the torch that is in my hands from the women of Seneca Falls.”

Hochul later attended a similar rally in Albany.

In Rochester, abortion rights demonstrators gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, listened to speeches and later marched to City Hall.

Rep. Joe Morelle (D-25) said he is grateful for the protections in New York, but the stakes are higher in other states across the country.

"Texas is not alone. They have Mississippi. They have Alabama,” Morelle told the crowd. "They have a lot of other states that are going to follow their lead unless we stand up and we step up, and we stop this horrific abuse of women's reproductive healthcare."

At the Rochester rally, law enforcement had to step in between counter-protesters who came in support of the more restrictive abortion legislation, and those who came to demonstrate in support of reproductive rights.

The marches happened a day after the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September.

It's one of a series of cases that will give the nation's divided high court occasion to uphold or overrule Roe v. Wade.

Thousands of women filled a square near the White House for a rally before the march. Many waved signs that said “Mind your own uterus," “I love someone who had an abortion" and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate,” among other messages.

This story included reporting by the Associated Press.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.