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The US was convulsed with anger, joy, fear and confusion on Friday after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The canyon-like divide across the country over the right to terminate a pregnancy was on full display, with abortion rights supporters condemning the decision as a dark day in history, while abortion foes rejoiced and said it will save countless lives.
In eliminating the constitutional right to abortion that has stood for a half-century, the high court left the politically charged issue up to the states, about half of which are now likely to ban the procedure.
Hundreds of people surrounded the barricaded Supreme Court in Washington, some questioning the high court's legitimacy, while others cheered the ruling and proclaimed the dawn of a “post-Roe” world.
Many young people in the crowd wore red shirts that read “The Pro-Life Generation Votes," while chanting, “Pro life is pro woman!”
Others involved in the decades-long fight for women's rights felt an acute setback to the movement but remained hopeful it might prove temporary.
“It’s not unexpected, but I’m absolutely furious that we are seeing … the major backlash of white male supremacy. And that's what this is about. It's about controlling women's reproductive lives,” said Carol E. Tracy, the executive director of the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia.
“They want women to be barefoot and pregnant once again. But I have no doubt that women and like-minded men, and people in the LGBTQ community, who are also at great risk, ... we're going to fight back. I think it's going to be a long, hard fight.”
Garrett Bess, who works with a lobbying arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, watched the scene unfold at the Supreme Court and said his group will continue to press states to restrict abortion.
“We’ll be working with grassroots Americans to ensure the protection of pregnant mothers and babies,” Bess said. “This has been a long time coming, and it’s a welcome decision.”
Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans favor preserving Roe.
The reaction in statehouses across the country was swift. In Indiana, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced plans to add abortion restrictions to the agenda of a special legislative session early next month meant to address inflation.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is clear, and it is now up to the states to address this important issue,” Holcomb said. “We’ll do that in short order in Indiana.”
Medical student LaShyra Nolen, the first Black woman to become class president of Harvard Medical School, feared the effect of abortion bans on minority and poor women, among others.
“In the past month, we’ve seen that this country is not prepared to make sure that babies have access to formula, to be fed everyday. We’ve seen that our children are not safe at our schools, because of a lack of gun control. We also continue to see devastating statistics that Black women are more likely to die in childbirth compared to white women,” Nolen said.
“So when you have these harrowing disparities that exist in our country, and you force someone to give birth," she said, “I think it's going to lead to really dangerous measures and really dangerous conclusions.”
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