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Demonstrators rally against Reproductive Health Act; Golden among protesters outside Gounardes ceremony

A group of anti-abortion demonstrators held a protest rally against the state’s new Reproductive Freedom Act across the street from a ceremony in which one of the bill’s co-sponsors was taking his oath of office on Jan. 27.

Former Republican state Sen. Marty Golden was among the dozens of protesters standing at Shore Road and 83rd Street, across the street from Fort Hamilton High School, where Democratic state Sen. Andrew Gounardes was celebrating an oath of office ceremony in front of hundreds of people in the auditorium.

Gounardes defeated Golden in November.

Gounardes was a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), a bill signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 22. The new law codifies for New Yorkers the protections contained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion.

The RHA moves abortion from the state’s criminal law to its public health law; incorporates the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State law and ensures that New Yorkers can access care throughout a pregnancy when their health or life is endangered, or if the pregnancy is not viable; and clarifies that trained health care providers acting within their scope of practice can provide abortion care.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood of New York said the RHA will ensure that New Yorkers will have access to early and safe abortions.

But abortion opponents charged that the new law would allow abortions in the ninth month of pregnancy.

The Jan. 27 protest was billed as “Pro-Women, Pro-Child, Pro-Life” on a flier posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“More than 50 people stood against New York’s abortion expansion law & the removal of assaulting a pregnant woman from the State’s penal code this afternoon on Shore Road, across the street from the inauguration of one of the bills co-sponsors @agounardes,” one of the protesters, John Quaglione, wrote on Twitter.

In addition to Gounardes, the protesters said they were targeting Cuomo and lawmakers who voted for the RHA, including Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, a Democrat who represents Coney Island and parts of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge.

As the protest was taking place, Stewart-Cousins and Frontus were inside Fort Hamilton High School attending the ceremony for Gounardes.

In his speech, Gounardes made no mention of the demonstration. He thanked Golden for his years of service to the community.

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