Abortion clinics in at least eight US states have stopped performing abortions and others have begun to close after the Supreme Court overturned American women’s constitutional right to the procedure.
The United States with stimulus laws that included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia suspended abortions after Friday’s decision.
The court’s overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is likely to ban abortion in nearly half of the states. Of these, 13 banned immediate abortion.
This ruling, unimaginable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible thanks to the right side of the court immunized by three appointees from former President Donald Trump.
Both sides expected the fight over abortion to continue in state capitals, Washington, and at the polls. Judge Clarence Thomas, part of the majority on Friday, urged colleagues to overturn other Supreme Court rulings protecting same-sex marriage and contraceptive use.
Pregnant women considering an abortion were already dealing with a near-total ban in Oklahoma and a ban after nearly six weeks in Texas.
In Ohio, the prohibition of most abortions on the first detectable fetal heartbeat became legal when a federal judge overturned an injunction that had kept the procedure suspended for nearly three years. Utah law was enforced by ruling, and entered into force with narrow exceptions.
Abortion opponents welcomed the ruling, but abortion rights proponents, including President Joe Biden, have expressed discontent and vowed to fight for the rights back.
Protests erupted in the evening in a number of cities, including thousands demonstrating against the decision outside the fortified Supreme Court. Thousands of others chanted “We will rise” in Washington Square in New York.
“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” Biden said at the White House.
He urged voters to make it a crucial issue in the November elections, declaring that “this decision should not be the last word.”
Outside the White House, Ansley Cole, a college student from Atlanta, said she was “scared because what are they going to happen next? … The next election cycle will be cruel, as if terrifying. And if they’re going to do this, again, then what?”
Mr Trump began taking credit for the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it “the greatest gain of life in a generation”.
The rulings and others, he said, “have only been fulfilled because I have delivered all that I promised, including the nomination and confirmation of three powerful and highly respected Constitutionalists before the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a great honor for me to do so!”
Three Trump appointees voted Friday to overturn Roe v Wade: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett.
The decision is expected to disproportionately affect minority women who already face limited access to health care, according to statistics analyzed by the Associated Press.
It also puts the court at odds with the majority of Americans who favored keeping Roe, according to polls.
Surveys by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and others have shown that the majority are in favor of making abortion legal in all or most circumstances. But many also support restrictions, especially later in pregnancy. Surveys consistently show that one in 10 Americans wants abortion to be illegal in all cases.
The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of Judge Samuel Alito’s draft opinion indicating that the court was ready to take this important step.
Mr Alito wrote, in Friday’s final opinion, that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, was wrong and should be overturned.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Department of Justice will protect abortion providers and those seeking abortions in states where the law is legal and “work with other arms of the federal government seeking to use their legal powers to protect and maintain access to reproductive care.”
In particular, Mr. Garland said the Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Mifepristone in medical abortions.
More than 90% of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now done with pills rather than surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
The only abortion clinic in Mississippi, which was the focus of Friday’s case, continued to receive patients Friday. Outside, the men used the trumpet to tell the people inside that they would burn in Hell. Clinic attendants in colorful jackets used large loudspeakers to blast Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” at the protesters.
Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Missouri are among the 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, that already have laws on the books to ban abortion if Roe is abolished. Another half a dozen states have bans or almost complete bans after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
In nearly six other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, the battle will be over the inactive abortion bans enacted before the Roe report in 1973 or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Outside the fortified Supreme Court, a crowd of mostly women grew to hundreds within hours of the decision.
Some shouted, “The Supreme Court is illegitimate,” while others, wearing red T-shirts with “Voices of the Pro-Life Generation,” celebrated, danced and thrust their arms in the air.
The Biden administration and other abortion rights advocates have warned that the decision to overturn Roe would also threaten other Supreme Court decisions in favor of gay rights and even potential contraception.