Friday’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade prompted immediate protests nationwide, as access to reproductive health care was dramatically and immediately curtailed across the country.
Only 16 states and Washington, D.C., have laws explicitly protecting the right to an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research institution.
Outside a fenced-off Supreme Court, a heavy police presence gathered before the decision’s announcement. Thousands of protesters soon joined them, with others congregating around the nation in public squares and outside state legislatures and courthouses.
In Washington, Theresa Irish, 47, told HuffPost she’d come to ask the U.S. Senate if it was OK for her to get a hangnail removed, “because apparently they have rights over my body that I was unaware of.”
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 24, 2022
“I’m very upset by this decision,” she added. “I don’t think the government has any right to step in and say what I can do with my body. What happens between me and my doctor is 100% between me and my doctor.”
Mary Irish, 73, said she was disappointed in the decision itself and also the Supreme Court more broadly, which she says has become “very political.”
“I was there when a friend of mine had an illegal abortion,” Mary said. “It was horrifying. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Abortion rights activists react to the seismic court decision overturning Roe v. Wade outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 24. (Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images)
“I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t think I had to be here because it’s settled law,” a woman who identified herself as Cathy told NBC Washington outside the Supreme Court on Friday.
“I hope you know that, Clarence Thomas, and I hope you know that, Alito, and the rest of the justices that voted to overturn Roe V. Wade. I am very disappointed, it’s not going to stop abortions, it’s just going to make them unsafe.”
In anticipation of growing demonstrations over the decision, the Metropolitan Police Department initiated a full activation through Tuesday, June 28, along with D.C. Homeland Security.
CNN Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju captured U.S. Capitol Police headed to the court outfitted in riot gear:
New York City residents gathered in Washington Square Park to hear women share stories about abortion, according to video shared by The Independent executive editor Jenna Amatulli.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who attended the demonstration, spoke to protesters about a time she was raped and appreciated the comfort of having reign over her body.
“In fact I felt so alone I had to take a pregnancy test at a public bathroom in Midtown Manhattan and when I sat there waiting for what the result would be, all I could think was ‘thank God I have at least a choice,’” Ocasio-Cortez said.
AOC just arrived at the Union Square event where women are sharing their abortion stories. She just told the crowd how when she was raped in her early 20s, she was grateful to know that, had she become pregnant, abortion care was readily available. pic.twitter.com/wBUIDB5gcC
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) June 25, 2022
In Arkansas, where abortion is now illegal except when necessary to protect the life of the mother, two women gathered outside the state Capitol building to voice their anger.
“I wish I could abort my government,” read one woman’s sign. The other held a drawing of stone tablets reminiscent of the Ten Commandments but with two additions: “Thou shalt not steal my civil rights” and “Thou shalt not steal my reproductive rights.”
“Biblical law is here” one protester’s sign read. “I’m scared shitless.”
Protesters also gathered outside the Utah State Capitol, where a trigger law passed in 2020 will ban almost all abortions as soon as the state’s legislative counsel affirms the Supreme Court’s decision.
People protest for abortion rights at the Utah State Capitol on June 24, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (Photo: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, where the lawsuit that led to Roe’s overturn initiated, tensions ran high. Video from Fox8 New Orleans showed anti-abortion protesters, some with megaphones, flanking the entrance to the clinic while escorts in colorful vests waved cars in and out.
Polling shows a majority of Americans ― 55% in a recent Gallup poll ― consider themselves “pro-choice,” the highest number Gallup has measured since 1995.
Clinic escort Libby Spence stands outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., calling out to incoming patients that the clinic is still open, moments after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was issued, on June 24, 2022. (Photo: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Ben Blanchet contributed to this article.
More on the Supreme Court abortion ruling:
Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, dismantling decades-old precedent
Roe overturned: The fight begins
Abortion is now illegal in these states
Liberal justices dissent with “sorrow” for “millions of American women”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We have to fill the streets”
Clarence Thomas: Cases protecting gay marriage and contraception should be next
Republicans make it clear they want to ban abortion nationwide
Donald Trump praises SCOTUS decision
West Coast states launch a plan to protect out-of-state abortion patients
Here’s how the world is reacting to the end of Roe
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.