WASHINGTON — Reaction came fast and furious Friday after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion.
Anger and dismay erupted first outside the Supreme Court moments after the decision was announced.
Quickly, it spread westward as devastated abortion-rights protesters across the country railed against the conservative justices who wiped away a half-century of precedent and made access to abortions all but impossible in many states.
Massive crowds gathered in front of the federal building in downtown Chicago and then marched through The Loop to Grant Park chanting, “My body! My choice!” Protesters also staged noisy demonstrations outside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, and across from the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison. And in Flint, Michigan, hundreds blocked the sidewalks in front of the Genesee County Prosecutor’s office.
“I’m expecting at least tens of thousands of people in outpourings across the country tonight,” said Texas organizer Coco Das, who is a member of the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights group.
Speaking from Austin, Das described the anger as “visceral.”
As Das spoke, police equipped with riot shields and wearing helmets were deployed to courthouses and other gathering spots across the country wherever protesters were gathering.
Big demonstrations were reported in Richmond, Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina and Topeka, Kansas.
There were also demonstrations outside the U.S. embassies in London and Ottawa, Canada.
In New York City, thousands of protesters gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square and began marching downtown for Washington Square Park.
“Abortion is health care, health care is a right,” many in the crowd chanted.
One of the protesters was 16-year-old Anura Bracey, who was carrying a sign that read “Overturn Roe? Hell No.”
“I’m enraged,” Bracey said. “I’m terrified for what this means for birthing people in the country.”
Bracey said she feels lucky to live in a state where the right to an abortion is still protected but said she fears the Supreme Court could take aim at other rights including marriage equality.
“So I’m just here to get my rage out,” Bracey said. “I want someone to listen to us. I don’t know how much this is really going to do, but I just feel very desperate.”
Claire Alcus, 25, said she felt sick to her stomach when she learned of the ruling.
“I’m not so much concerned for myself because I have access to proper birth control,” she said. “But I just feel so horrible for women who probably share the sentiments that I have, that I’m not ready for a child that won’t have access to the kind of care that they need in order to live their lives the way that I can.”
Later Friday night, hundreds of demonstrators were in Union Square when Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived. The crowd shouted “AOC!“
The lawmaker, whose district encompasses the Bronx and Queens, earlier called for people to hit the streets in protest, and urged voters to cast ballots in primaries to help change the Democratic Party.
In Washington Friday, a weeping woman who asked to be only identified as Skye wept openly after the decision was announced.
“It feels like a betrayal,” Skye said. “It feels like my country doesn’t love me and appreciate my body as a woman. I can’t even chant because I can’t say anything. It hurts.”
Amanda Herring, who is 32 and nine months pregnant, showed up with her 1-year-old son Abraham and the words “Not Yet a Human” written in ink across her swollen belly.
Herring, a Jewish educator who said her due date is Saturday, considers the Supreme Court ruling an infringement on her religion.