Within minutes of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, the attorney general in Missouri issued an opinion banning abortion in his state. Abortion clinics in several cities, including Montgomery, Ala., and Sioux Falls, S.D., shut down. But others in Illinois and Ohio kept seeing patients.
At a Phoenix clinic, 40 women were waiting to schedule appointments, setting the staff scrambling for answers about whether it was still allowed to perform abortions. “We sent a bunch of people home, and they were hysterical,” said Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, the clinic’s owner.
In Ohio, Candice Keller, a former state representative who sponsored a law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, broke down in tears of joy. “I just started to cry,” Ms. Keller said. “It has been a real battle. It felt like you are never going to win. But we did win.”
The overturning of Roe on Friday, stunning even as it was long predicted, set off waves of triumph and of despair, from the protesters on either side massing in front of the Supreme Court, to abortion clinics and crisis pregnancy centers, and in texts with friends and bursting social media feeds.
The split-screen reaction reflected a polarized nation: jubilation and relief on one side, outrage and grief on the other.
“If I had confetti I would be tossing it high,” said Dale Bartscher, the director of South Dakota Right to Life. “Today, we’re celebrating a day that we’ve long dreamed of, advocated for and worked for: the overcoming of Roe v. Wade.”
David Ripley, the director of Idaho Chooses Life, said he did not think he would be alive to see the day when Idaho’s trigger ban on abortion — making it illegal upon Roe’s fall — would actually take effect.
“The court has finally admitted that its ruling and the rulings of the federal courts for the last 50 years have been egregiously wrong,” Mr. Ripley said. “I am ecstatic.”
On the other side, supporters of abortion rights worried for the millions of women living in the wide swath of the country where abortion will be illegal or essentially unavailable because of layers of restrictions that have added expense and delays for women seeking the procedure.
Some women hoarded abortion pills. A group called Shout Your Abortion began a campaign proclaiming #AbortionPillsForever, vowing to help get them to women in need.
“I knew this was coming but I didn’t expect to feel such anger,” Amalie Hahn, 49, said in Jackson, Miss. “You want to ban abortions in the state of Mississippi, but you don’t want to take into account that Mississippi is one of, if not the worst state to give birth in. We are in the midst of a formula shortage and poverty is at an all-time high and they are forcing women to have babies. This is insane.”
Jackson is the home of the clinic, known locally as the Pink House, at the center of the Supreme Court’s decision. On Friday, volunteers there continued to escort patients inside, and lawyers said the clinic would continue to offer abortion for the next 10 days, until Mississippi’s trigger ban takes effect.
The court’s ruling, which had been foreshadowed in oral arguments in December and again when a draft opinion was leaked in May, means that within a month abortion will be banned except for rare exception in 13 states. Opponents and supporters alike say it will quite likely become illegal or inaccessible in about half the states, with 33.6 million women of childbearing age living in states likely to lose access.
Millions of Americans have never known a world without the constitutional right to abortion.
In Kansas City, Mo., one of them, Mallorie McBride, said she was “shocked and horrified” at the Supreme Court decision.
“We’re taking so many steps back,” Ms. McBride, 24, said. “I’ve always been a believer that older men should not be making decisions about women’s bodies. As a single woman in my 20s, I haven’t felt very represented by my government in a while, but this takes it one step further.”
“It’s also like, what else will happen after this?” said Briana Perry, 30, a board member of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a reproductive rights network in Nashville. “Not only when it comes to reproductive rights, but other rights that we have that we thought we were secured through Supreme Court rulings that are now in question.”
The Supreme Court’s decision calls abortion “a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” But while Americans have become more likely to say that abortion is morally acceptable, the issue is very much a political one. Friday’s ruling made it even more so, sending the question of how to regulate abortion back to the states — and into a new and even more polarized era.
Both sides quickly pivoted to the fights ahead.
James Bopp Jr., general counsel to the National Right to Life Committee, who has crusaded against abortion since the Roe decision in 1973, called Friday’s ruling “a total victory for the pro-life movement and for America.” Still, he said, the job for anti-abortion forces was “half-done.” The group was assembled for its convention in Atlanta when the decision was announced, and had already drafted model legislation to ban abortion in every state, with exceptions only for risks to the life of the mother.
“That’s going to be an enormous task — there will be an array of forces against us,” Mr. Bopp said. “This the end of the beginning, as Churchill said once. A huge obstacle has been removed, and now we’re going to make sure that the law is used to protect the unborn.”
Troy Newman, the president of Kansas-based Operation Rescue, which staged a long campaign of blockades outside abortion clinics, said the decision still left too much latitude for states like his, largely led by Democrats, to allow abortion.
“It is now time for the pro-life movement to pull up our big-boy boots and win the rest of the states,” he said. “We will be mopping up, putting the remaining dirty, disgusting abortion mills out of business.”
NARAL, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other groups pledged to spend $150 million in the 2022 midterms to elect supporters of abortion rights to state houses and Congress. The Women’s March, which rallied demonstrators after the election of Donald J. Trump, called for protests in a “Summer of Rage.”
In Conway, Ark., Stacey Margaret Jones, 52, said she kept thinking about the women she encountered when she volunteered at Planned Parenthood.
“I feel really hopeless because I feel like there’s nothing I could have personally done differently,” Ms. Jones said. She has donated to candidates who support abortion rights, attended marches and written to her legislators. But in a conservative state like Arkansas, she does not feel like her voice is heard. Her state senator is Jason Rapert, a lead sponsor of Arkansas’s trigger law that outlawed abortion on Friday.
“I’m looking for guidance from somebody or some organization to say, ‘OK, we knew this could happen and this is what we’re going to do,’” Ms. Jones said.
As protests swelled outside the Supreme Court, with supporters and opponents shouting slogans back and forth, Capitol Police sent additional officers to line the barriers blocking the court and the Capitol building across the street. They were preparing for larger crowds as people finished work. By the afternoon, protests had shut down the nearby Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.
But the divided reaction played out far from Washington, too.
In Leawood, Kan., a protester shouted through an amplifier, “You’re murdering your child!” as Daniel Morrison and his girlfriend arrived in the rain at a Planned Parenthood clinic so she could have an abortion. “You’ve come to a death camp. Babies are murdered here.”
Mr. Morrison responded, “I am helping my girlfriend, I am helping her choose,” emphasizing the word “choose.”
Mr. Morrison said that he worked in a restaurant in Oklahoma and his girlfriend volunteered in a homeless shelter for youth, and that they were not prepared financially or emotionally for a child.
“I’m not here because I just want to go have fun and party more,” Mr. Morrison said. “I want to be able to plan a life for a child and be able to support a child in ways more than money — be able to give it time and everything a child would need to be able to develop. Having the choice to do that is very important. I don’t consider it murder.”
The Supreme Court decision is only going to cause pain and difficulty for people, he said.
Across the parking lot, the Advice & Aid pregnancy center had extra security on site Friday morning because of what its executive director, Ruth Tisdale, said were calls for attacks on facilities such as hers. Ms. Tisdale said that the Supreme Court’s decision was “an exciting time,” but that her work had to continue.
Reporting was contributed by Austyn Gaffney, Jimmie E. Gates, Carey Gillam, Jack Healy, Carolyn Komatsoulis, Tom Lawrence, Erica Sweeney and Kevin Williams.
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