WASHINGTON — Protests broke out outside the Supreme Court on Friday and abortion-rights activists planned droves of demonstrations across the country in the aftermath of a ruling that ended a constitutional right to abortion.
An emotional crowd of protesters carried signs and chanted “My body, my choice” at the steps of the Supreme Court as they grappled with news that the landmark Roe v. Wade’s decision was struck down after five decades.
Among them was Serena Steiner, a 35-year-old legal assistant from Alexandria, Virginia, who had tears in her eyes as she spoke about how the decision would affect her sisters and others nationwide. Steiner texted her sisters after news broke of the ruling, she said, encouraging them to get IUDs and saying “RIP Roe v. Wade.”
“I don’t want them to be forced to have children they don’t want to have,” she said.
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Steiner said she “benefitted from access to abortion as a teenager” and wants abortion healthcare to be accessible to all who need it. Still, she wasn’t surprised by the ruling, she said.
Robin Sabbath, 59, of Detroit Michigan, was in her hotel in Washington, DC when the ruling was announced. Sabbath said she is no longer in her “child-bearing years” but she came to protest because “the government should not have the right to tell me what to do regarding my reproductive health.”
“It’s my body, my choice. Period,” said Sabbath, who works in library nonprofits. “…We should all be able to make the choices that are best for us and for our families.”
Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists also gathered in Washington.
In anticipation of mounting demonstrations, the US Capitol Police said it is mobilizing additional officers and resources while working with other law enforcement agencies.
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Elsewhere, abortion-rights advocates in cities including Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and New York City planned protests for Friday evening. There were also planned protests in Florida, Missouri, Georgia and Texas.
Cheyenne Cheile, a Florida-based co-founder of the Women’s Advocacy Movement of Pinellas, helped spearhead a protest for Friday afternoon shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision was announced.
Cheile told USA TODAY she anticipated at least 1,000 people showing up for the Bans off our Bodies rally planned in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Politicians and judges, we feel, have no business interfering in our decisions about what we do with our bodies, and right here in Florida, our elected officials have already attacked our right to make decisions,” Cheile said.
In April, Florida Gov. DeSantis signed into law a 15-week abortion ban that shortened the window to legally terminate a pregnancy by two months.
In Jacksonville, Florida Planned Parenthood PAC members stood outside City Hall, holding hands. Some were stoic while others had tears welling up in their eyes.
“Today I woke up holding my breath, reached for my phone and began refreshing my Twitter feed compulsively,” said Abbey Vickery, a local reproductive rights activist. “When I saw the news, I sat in all of the emotions I already knew were coming. The same ones that are so familiar to all of us — hurt, scared, furious.”
Baileigh Johnson, an activist who said she had an abortion when she was 29, wore a shirt that said “KEEP ABORTIONS SAFE.” She said abortions need to be “normalized.”
She added, “abortions save lives — it saved mine too.”
At EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the lone full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky, a few protesters gathered Friday morning outside the downtown facility.
Joseph Spurgeon, a pastor at a church in nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana, said they had come out to celebrate “the grace of God”, adding he will continue to lead his congregation in pushing to outlaw not only medications capable of terminating pregnancies, but contraceptives such as Plan B.
Contributing: Lucas Aulbach, (Louisville) Courier Journal; Emily Bloch, Florida Times-Union
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism