The Supreme Court’s watershed decision to overturn Roe v. Wade drew outrage and celebration across the country Friday, culminating in a series of nationwide protests Friday night that were largely without incident.
Some of the concerns about the end of the once federally-protected right to abortion were immediate: trigger laws put in place before the ruling meant that abortion is now effectively outlawed in 13 states automatically or through swift state action following the Friday decision. Abortion providers in several other states stopped offering services because doctors fear criminal charges.
But in addition to the pressing questions about reproductive rights raised by the Supreme Court ruling, there are concerns about what the court could now do with other other milestone decisions, particularly after conservative Justice Clarence Thomas called for the Supreme Court to ‘reconsider’ gay marriage and contraception.
Here’s a look at what the ruling means for Americans and how the nation is responding to a fundamental change in reproductive rights.
More than 20 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion, according to The Guttmacher Institute, an organization that works to study, educate, and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.
States with “trigger laws”: 13 states have laws which are set to go into effect automatically or through swift state action because federal Roe protections no longer apply: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Pre-Roe laws: Five additional states had an abortion ban on the books from before Roe v. Wade became law: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Some of these pre-Roe bans are currently subject to legal challenges.
Six-week bans: Finally, there were a handful of states without “trigger laws” that had enacted bans on abortion six weeks after conception which were not yet in effect: Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina. Texas also had a six-week ban that was already in effect before Friday.
Maps show changing abortion access:How states are abortion regulation after Roe v. Wade ruling
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed an executive order meant to protect the state’s abortion services from laws in neighboring states, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision ending constitutional protections for the procedure.
Walz said his action should help shield people seeking or providing abortions in Minnesota from facing legal consequences in other states. The Supreme Court’s opinion to reverse Roe v. Wade immediately banned abortions in South Dakota and enacted a trigger law to end abortions in North Dakota after 30 days.
Abortion remains legal in Minnesota. Walz has vowed to reject requests to extradite individuals who are accused of committing acts related to reproductive health care that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota.
“My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” Walz said.
The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, which is North Dakota’s sole abortion provider, plans to move across the river to Minnesota, clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker said Saturday. She said she has secured a location in Moorhead but gave no further details.
—The Associated Press
Now that Roe is reversed, abortion laws sit in the states’ hands. In Texas, focus has turned to this year’s gubernatorial election – but, regardless of the outcome of November’s election, little could change for abortion law in the state.
“The only way to overcome today’s decision is to win this race for governor,” Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, said in an email statement sent just minutes after the Supreme Court’s ruling. “The Supreme Court has sent this back to the states, and our state’s current governor has outlawed abortion beginning at conception with no exception for rape or incest.”
The message promised urgent action and suggested at least indirectly that the governor might have unilateral power to affect abortion law. But even if O’Rourke upsets Abbott’s bid for a third term in November, he would be the decided underdog in any legislative battle over abortion.
The Republican-dominated Legislature in 2021 enacted a “trigger law” designed to kick in whenever the Roe decision was struck down. The Texas law makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any point in pregnancy.
Republicans are heavily favored to retain control of both legislative chambers in the coming elections, regardless of the outcome of the governor’s race.
– John C. Mortiz, Corpus Christi Caller Times
In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s monumental decision to end the constitutional right to abortion, experts suggested that Chief Justice John Roberts might find a way to save Roe. But those kinds of predictions were dashed when the nation’s highest court overturned the landmark case this week.
On Friday, the chief justice didn’t join the majority to overturn Roe. Instead, he articulated what some saw as the centrist’s position: He wanted to uphold the Mississippi ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy at issue in the case but not overrule one of the Supreme Court’s best recognized precedents.
No other justice joined his opinion.
Some had speculated whether, after a draft opinion in the case leaked last month, Roberts was attempting to convince Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett Kavanaugh behind the scenes to join his opinion – appealing to the notion of honoring precedent even if they disagreed with it. He had signaled his support for that very idea during oral arguments in December.
But if that lobbying effort took place, it failed spectacularly.
“To write alone is truly kind of interesting as the chief,” said Glenn Cohen, a professor and deputy dean at Harvard Law School. “One feels a little bit that this is his moment of shouting into the desert as a judicial minimalist.”
— John Fritze
Following the Friday decision to end the federally-protected right to abortion in the U.S., lawmakers in France belonging to President Emmanuel Macron’s party will propose a bill to inscribe abortion rights into the country’s constitution, according to a Saturday statement by two members of parliament.
In France, the right to abortion is already inscribed in a 1975 law relating to the voluntary termination of pregnancy within the legal framework that decriminalized abortion.
A constitutional law will cement abortion rights for future generations, said Marie-Pierre Rixain, a member of parliament and of Macron’s The Republic on the Move party.
“What happened elsewhere must not happen in France,” Rixain said.
Macron also expressed solidarity with U.S. women following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe on Friday – and said women’s liberties are being undermined by the decision. “Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected,” the French president wrote in a Twitter post late Friday.
– The Associated Press
Before signing a gun control bill Saturday, President Joe Biden again had harsh words for the Supreme Court’s “shocking decision” to curtail abortion rights by striking down the Roe vs. Wade ruling.
“Jill (Biden) and I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many Americans,” the president said at the White House.
Biden again vowed to fight state efforts to further erode reproductive rights, such as proposals that would forbid women from traveling to other states for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
“We’re going to take action to protect women’s rights and reproductive health,” Biden added.
Biden also criticized the Supreme Court this week for a decision striking down gun control measures in New York and other states.
Asked Saturday if the institution is “broken,” Biden said: “I think the Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions.”
– David Jackson
PORTLAND, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins was blasted Friday for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as opponents targeted her votes to confirm two justices to the Supreme Court who were in the majority opinion allowing states to ban abortion.
Critics of the Maine senator haven’t forgotten the key role she played in confirming Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and she was ripped anew on social media.
Some opponents took to name-calling and attacked Collins for being naive or complicit. Others called for her resignation. University of Maine professor Amy Fried said Collins “helped make this happen,” and the Maine Democratic Party said part of the blame lies at Collins’ feet.
The senator said in a statement Friday that she had received assurances from Kavanaugh and Gorsuch that Roe v. Wade was an established legal precedent.
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” she said.
— The Associated Press
Sen. Susan Collins’ critical votes:Collins blasted after abortion ruling she calls ‘inconsistent’ with justices’ testimony
On Friday, protesters assembled outside the Supreme Court, took to the streets in large cities and gathered in town parks.
An emotional crowd of hundreds carried signs and chanted “My body, my choice” at the steps of the nation’s highest court as protesters grappled with news that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was struck down after nearly five decades.
“I was gutted,” said Becca Waite, a traveling nurse who attend a protest in Los Angeles. “These are women’s lives at risk… There are already abortion deserts and there are already women that are disproportionately affected by this.”
Amid the protests, some anti-abortion activists heralded the day as a cause for celebration. Some even rallied outside abortion clinics and sparred with protesters.
At EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the lone full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky, a few activists gathered in the 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.
While most protests remained peaceful through Friday night, some cities saw clashes between police and demonstrators.
Law enforcement in Phoenix fired several canisters of tear gas at abortion-rights protesters after some banged against the doors of the Arizona Senate building Friday evening. Hundreds of protesters immediately scattered as the tear gas spread and officers in SWAT gear advanced with one officer declaring the protest an unlawful assembly. Authorities said there were no injuries or arrests.
‘I cannot believe we are here again’:Protesters take to streets across US after Supreme Court overturns Roe
As Republican lawmakers move to ban abortion in about half of U.S. states following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a cluster of Democratic-led states on the West Coast is standing apart in a collective vow to protect abortion access.
On Friday, governors in California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada promised to protect reproductive rights and help women traveling west seeking abortions, as communities now expect an influx of visitors in search of a safe place to get the procedure.
Three of those states — California, Washington and Oregon — joined forces in what officials called a “West Coast offense.” Their goal? To locally protect and expand abortion rights that are being outlawed across the U.S.
But leaders are also signaling worry about what has yet to come –– and what other reversals may be in store after the death of Roe v. Wade
States that allow abortions:4 states on West Coast ‘put welcome sign on door’ for abortion access
Corporations are in the hot seat after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.
At least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion as a result of the decision, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Before Friday, many corporations avoided taking a stance on abortion rights even as states like Texas and Oklahoma passed laws that significantly restricted abortion access and a leak of the draft ruling was published.
A handful of companies including Match Inc., Bumble, Amazon, Citigroup, Salesforce, Tesla, Lyft, Yelp and JPMorgan began to cover travel expenses employees may incur to get an abortion if they don’t have access to safe procedures in their home state before the ruling was officially released.
But the decision is forcing other companies to break their silence on the issue. Here’s what they’re saying:
After Roe v. Wade overturned:Companies paying for abortion-related travel include DICK’S Sporting Goods, Disney
Businesses respond:Kroger employee benefits include travel costs for abortion
With this decision, abortion will likely be banned or greatly restricted in at least 22 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some experts worry these bans could trickle down to restrict the use of emergency contraception and birth control.
“The rhetoric has been really increasing over the last several years,” Mara Gandal-Power, director of birth control access at the National Women’s Law Center, said before the ruling. “There’s definitely a domino effect which I think people are really starting to wake up to.”
Health experts say what’s partly driving this legislation is the misconception that emergency contraceptives are able to terminate a pregnancy.
“The medications don’t work to abort a pregnancy,” said Dr. Mary Jacobson, an OB-GYN and chief medical officer at Alpha Medical, a telemedicine site for women’s health and sex differences. “If the patient were pregnant and took Plan B it doesn’t increase abortion and it doesn’t have any effects on the ongoing pregnancy.”
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Associate Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday said the Supreme Court should “reconsider” other rights established by the high court in the wake of its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, including access to contraception and gay marriage.
Thomas’ concurring opinion – which no other member of the court joined – tracks with an argument abortion rights groups had made for months leading up to the court’s blockbuster abortion decision: A ruling that the Constitution doesn’t protect a right to an abortion would jeopardize other rights the court established under the 14th Amendment.
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to landmark opinions that blocked states from banning contraception, sex by same-sex couples and gay marriage. “After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on Friday, saying it represents a half century of struggle by conservative activists.
“The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs is courageous and correct,” he said. “This is an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society.”
During Donald Trump’s single term as president, McConnell was pivotal in reshaping the judiciary. He shepherded dozens of conservative judges onto the bench, including three high court nominees—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—that tilted the Supreme Court to its current conservative majority.
In May, the GOP leader acknowledged in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY that a national abortion ban is “possible” in Congress.
“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies – not only at the state level, but at the federal level – certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said.
“And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible. It would depend on where the votes were.”
—Phillip M. Bailey
In an interview Friday, the plaintiff whose name is on the case legalizing same-sex marriage said abortion ruling is a call to opponents of marriage equality “to now start their engines and to come after those rights.”
“This very clearly paints a target on our right to privacy, our right to commit to the person we love and to form our families,” said Jim Obergefell, an Ohio resident and gay-rights advocate.
Obergefell and John Arthur, who was gravely ill, traveled to Maryland in July 2013 to get married because Ohio didn’t allow same-sex unions. Arthur died three months later, and Obergefell sued to be listed on the death certificate as Arthur’s husband. Their case was among multiple cases involving dozens of plaintiffs argued before the Supreme Court.
The 2015 decision establishing the right for same-sex couples to marry was a milestone for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Thomas dissented against the majority opinion.
Obergefell accused Thomas of “imposing his twisted sense of morality” on the country. He said he’s scared about what the future may hold but urged women, LGBTQ people and their allies to keep fighting for their rights.
The future of gay marriage:Jim Obergefell says Supreme Court abortion ruling puts target on privacy, gay marriage
Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling sparks concerns over abortion rights, data privacy
The decision could push states to make abortions illegal. Last year, Texas signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, banning them after six weeks of pregnancy. The law also allows anyone to sue any other person who performs the procedure or helps people get an abortion.
Some experts fear that those who seek abortions could be outed by tech companies to governments or law enforcement by handing over the troves of personal data they maintain upon request.
“With unintended consequences here, we’re really looking at a situation where tech companies’ very loose restrictions around collecting data and users’ data privacy is really going to put people who are seeking abortions, or even seeking to learn more about abortions, at risk,” said Mariana Ruiz Firmat, executive director at nonprofit organization Kairos.
Privacy rights after Roe ruling:Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling sparks concerns over abortion rights, data privacy
More coverage of abortion rights from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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