As solidarity events inspired by the new, harsher political climate continue to ripple across the nation, dozens descended on MacDonald Park in Forest Hills last Sunday for a rally to protect women’s and human rights, prompted by President Trump’s perceived assault on such issues since taking office on Jan. 20.

A major topic of the rally was female reproductive healthcare, something that many Trump critics feared would be targeted under the House Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal bill, which was pulled before it could come to a vote last week.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines while the GOP pushes such legislation, the ralliers called for a nationwide community-level blitz to specifically counter the administration’s zealous opposition to funding reproductive healthcare.

“We need a vote on the Reproductive Health Act to make sure that no matter what happens in Washington, folks in New York have access to reproductive health care,” said Danielle Castaldi-Micca, director of Political and Government affairs at the National Institute for Reproductive Health, a organization that promotes proactive reproductive health and rights at the state and city levels.

She went on to cite the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which determined abortion a fundamental right under the Constitution and helped shape national politics going forward.

“Sometimes, fatal fetal anomalies may be discovered beyond 26 weeks,” Castaldi-Micca added, “so access to abort a pregnancy is necessary if the fetus won’t sustain life outside the womb or if the mother’s life is at risk.”

According to Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), “absolutely stupid” describes the administration’s strategy when it comes to the Republicans’ now dead bill to repeal the ACA, former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

“They’re going to keep fumbling,” Hevesi said, “and we’re just going to have to weather the storm and take back the House.”

While House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) failed to drum up enough support among Republicans in the chamber to secure enough yes votes, Hevesi said blame for the bill’s failure also rests with Trump, who declined to wholeheartedly support the legislation.

The lawmaker said Trump set himself up for failure during the campaign, when he pledged to work to immediately repeal and replace the ACA, also known as Obamacare, instead of taking his time to make sure the process goes smoothly.

“One after another,” he said, “the president is making terrible tactical mistakes.”

For some, such as the disabled and senior citizens, the stakes with healthcare are even higher.

Despite the dreary weather, neighborhood resident Jodi Heran said she attended the rally to ensure people with disabilities are included in the conversation.

“I’ve lived in Forest Hills a long time and I’m active in disabilities rights,” Heran said. “We’re left out of the conversation of rights and we want to make it vocal.”


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