Abortion-rights protesters continued to voice their fury and anguish nationwide Saturday following the seismic ruling by the US Supreme Court to eliminate the federal constitutional right to an abortion.
On Friday, the Court overturned the 1973 ruling known as Roe v. Wade, sparking protests that are expected to extend throughout the weekend.
Smaller gatherings of people celebrating the ruling are also taking place.
As states started enacting abortion bans and some clinics stopped offering the procedure, abortion-rights advocates took to the streets in major cities.
“It’s like seeing the train coming toward you,” said Julia Kaluta, 24, one of many abortion-rights advocates gathered in New York City. “And you finally get hit by it. And it still hurts more than you ever thought.”
More demonstrations are expected Saturday and Sunday in cities big and small, including in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, California and many others.
“It’s a betrayal against women … it’s a giant step backwards … It opens the door for other rights and freedoms to be threatened,” said Natasha Mitchell, 41, of Denver. “I’m fortunate that I live in a state that respects the reproductive rights of women but I fear for women who don’t.”
Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law in April, codifying the right to an abortion in the state.
Police use tear gas to disperse crowds
President Joe Biden described it as a “sad day” for the US. He plans to “continue to find solutions” to ensure abortion rights, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Saturday. She declined to offer details on potential executive actions regarding abortion that the administration is weighing.
In Phoenix, law enforcement used tear gas late Friday to disperse a crowd of abortion-rights supporters after they “repeatedly pounded on the glass doors of the State Senate Building,” Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bart Graves told CNN.
In Eugene, Oregon, 10 people were arrested on Friday night during a demonstration dubbed a “Night of Rage” in response to the ruling, according to a release from Eugene police. Those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 29 years old, according to the release. Nine people were charged with disorderly conduct, one of whom was also charged with resisting arrest and another with harassment, police said.
Police said demonstrators started gathering Friday night just before 9:30 p.m. in front of a medical building in Eugene’s downtown. The crowd grew to more than 75 people who blocked roadways and vehicles, police said. Demonstrators at one point were seen throwing rocks or other objects and an unknown individual also threw smoke bombs at police officers, according to the release.
As news of the ruling emerged Friday morning, abortion-rights advocates and opponents also gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
One man – standing amid placards including the messages “Roe is dead” and “I am the post-Roe generation” – sprayed champagne in the air above others who were celebrating.
US Capitol Police (USCP) arrested two people on Saturday afternoon for the destruction of property after they were accused of “throwing paint over the fence by the U.S. Supreme Court,” USCP tweeted.
USCP told CNN the two people arrested were Nicholas Salvador Saint Amour and Leah Johnson.
As abortion rights protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court on Saturday, USCP tweeted it was working to “help demonstrators with heat issues” by bringing in cooling buses and additional people to help. So far, roughly 12 people have been helped, they said.
In New York City, many demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park to protest the ruling, even though New York state law will remain in place to protect abortion rights.
There were some anti-abortion activists on hand, but they kept a low profile and there were no confrontations seen by the CNN crew walking with the protesters. At least 20 people in the city were “taken into custody with charges pending,” after demonstrators marched in protest of the decision, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
No further details were provided on the arrests.
Mia Khatcherian, who lives in New York, said she felt guilty knowing that abortion is legal in her home state, while those living in other states will be subjected to anti-abortion laws.
“I want women in other states to see the swell of support – that the sheer number (of demonstrators) sends a message,” said Khatcherian, 32, the daughter of a Filipina mother and Armenian father. “Knowing that women of color are going to bear the brunt of this decision” made sitting home, raging on social media, an impossibility, she added.
Black women accounted for the highest percentage of abortions by women seeking the procedure in the US in 2019, receiving 38.4% of all abortions performed, according to data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also had the highest abortion rate, 23.8 abortions per 1,000 women, the data shows. Hispanic women sought 21% of all abortions in 2019, the data indicates.
The abortion ban is already in effect in at least six states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
And as of Saturday, 13 states have trigger laws banning abortions in light of the ruling. Those states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
In some instances, the laws go into effect immediately, while in other states they will become effective after a certain time period or by certification of state officials.
Abortion providers have canceled dozens of appointments
Already, abortion providers in Arizona and Arkansas have begun halting abortion services.
Family Planning Associates, Planned Parenthood Arizona and Tucson Choices in Arizona have at least temporarily suspended abortion services while the legal ramifications of the ruling are assessed, according to posts on their websites.
Dr. DeShawn Taylor, who operates Desert Star Family Planning in Phoenix, said her clinic canceled about 20 abortion appointments that were initially scheduled for Friday through next week.
“We’re committed to keeping our doors open if we can, to be able to provide abortion care, once it’s safe to do so. I believe we’ll be in some dark times for a while, hopefully for not too long, but I do believe the pendulum will swing back.”
On Friday, the Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus issued a memo stating the state must immediately enforce the pre-Roe law, which bans most abortions unless the procedure is necessary to save the life of a mother.
In Arkansas, the Little Rock Planned Parenthood canceled between 60 and 100 appointments for people who had abortion procedures scheduled or were in the process of scheduling, Dr. Janet Cathey said told CNN.
“There were patients who said they were in their car and on their way and asked us, ‘It will be OK, won’t it?’ And we had to tell them, ‘No, we have to follow the law,” Cathey told CNN.
“Most patients were desperate or panicked,” she added.
Cathey said the patients were given contact information for the Planned Parenthood office in Overland Park, Kansas, adding that her office has “made arrangements for some to be transferred there.”
Little Rock is roughly a 7-hour drive from Overland Park. But for those patients in south Arkansas, the travel time is closer to 10 hours, Cathey said.
“We were seeing people from Louisiana and Texas who came to see us, too. Some called from Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They’re going to be impacted as well,” she added.
Leaders respond quickly to protect abortion rights
In some states, local leaders have taken steps to protect as well as expand abortion rights, particularly in light of the potential influx of patients from states banning legal abortions.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday that protects against any potential civil action originating outside the state for anyone performing, assisting or receiving an abortion in the state. It also protects non-California residents seeking reproductive health care in the state.
In Mississippi – where the abortion ban is slated to take effect 10 days after its attorney general certifies the Supreme Court decision – the owner of the last abortion clinic in the state insisted on staying open during that period to provide services.
Diane Derzis, who runs the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, said she’s not giving up and that her doors are open.
“I will tell you that any patient who contacts us, we’ll see them. We’ll make sure we see them during that 10 days,” Derzis said Friday during a news conference. “A woman should not have to leave the state to obtain medical care.”
Derzis said her team is planning to open a new clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where they will continue to provide services.
CNN’s Gregory Krieg, Virginia Langmaid, Natasha Chen, Sara Smart, Claudia Dominguez, Cheri Mossburg, Kiely Westhoff, Alta Spells, Nick Valencia, Faith Karimi and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.