Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

The aftermath of an anti-abortion agenda: Nation sees immediate impact of overturning Roe

Share this Post:
Photo by Lindsey Anderson
Photo by Lindsey Anderson

On Friday, June 24, millions across the country awoke to the news they had been dreading. The Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively leaving the issue of abortion up to the states.

The decision was 6-3, with the majority ruling that Roe was unconstitutional because the right to abortion was "not deeply rooted in the Nation's history and traditions." Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said that the Roe case, which inferred a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment, was wrongly decided nearly fifty years ago.

In the original decision, Justice Blackmun wrote for the 7-2 majority that a woman's right to medical privacy is protected by the 14th Amendment. The ruling meant laws that policed a woman's body were unconstitutional. The court did, however, acknowledge both sides of the abortion debate by implementing "trimesters" as a form of compromise. Under Roe, abortion would be federally legal in the first trimester and cannot be regulated by state laws. In the second trimester, abortion could be regulated for the protection of the mother's health but not banned. In the final trimester, when the fetus is considered "viable," states could ban abortion with exceptions for cases when the mother's life was at risk.

A 1992 ruling upheld Roe but changed the trimester framework, allowing states to regulate abortions before fetal viability as long as a "substantial obstacle" or "undue burden" was not added.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization officially reverses all of this, now making it possible for states to regulate and ban abortion from conception. Because some states and lawmakers consider life to begin at conception — not implantation — forms of birth control such as IUDs, which prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, are also under attack.

Trigger bans go into effect
Thirteen states had already placed "trigger" bans on the books, meaning that as soon as the court announced that Roe had been overturned, total bans on abortion were immediately set in motion. Among those states is Washington's neighbor, Idaho.

The new laws, expected to go into effect within the next 30 days pending litigation, deem anyone who provides or attempts to provide an abortion a felon, with a penalty of two to five years in prison. Healthcare professionals who are charged will have their licenses suspended for up to six months and permanently revoked after a second charge.

Furthermore, states with immediate abortion bans also consider the use of Plan B or any attempt to terminate a pregnancy after just 14 days a felony. For most, two weeks is not early enough to detect an unplanned pregnancy. At-home pregnancy tests don't even work until four weeks.

Because of the severity of these state laws, Washington, which allows abortions up until week 25, is expected to see a drastic influx of patients from other states seeking the procedure.

What does overturning Roe mean for other 14th Amendment rulings?
The 14th Amendment, which was passed in 1866 following emancipation, includes a clause that reads, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Because Dobbs says that the 14th Amendment was applied incorrectly in the original Roe ruling, some wonder if the justices will also reconsider other cases based on the right to privacy. These include Loving v. Virginia (the right to interracial marriage), Lawrence v. Texas (legalizing sodomy), Griswold v. Connecticut (legalizing contraception for married couples), and Obergefell v. Hodges (legalizing marriage equality). While the majority opinion said this should not call other cases into question, conservative justice Clarence Thomas did mention in his concurring opinion that the court should reexamine such cases.

While Americans are less concerned that Loving v. Virginia will be overturned (Thomas, who is Black, is married to a white woman), there is a reasonable fear that other cases mentioned by Thomas might be next.

"I think this is not over," Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN on Monday following the ruling. "I think [Thomas] just said the quiet part out loud, and I think that is why we all must understand the significance of what just happened. This is profound."

Many are now wondering — now that the Supreme Court has overturned a nearly 50-year-old precedent — what else it will do.

Calls for judicial impeachment
Three justices (Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch) made clear under oath at their confirmation hearings that Roe was an established precedent, despite having now joined the majority to overturn it. Americans are now calling out their hypocrisy, and some are even demanding their impeachment.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned the justices at a rally in New York City on Friday, and later told NBC's Meet the Press, "They lied, and I believe lying under oath is an impeachable offense, and I believe that this is something that should very seriously be considered." Ocasio-Cortez also singled out Justice Thomas, whose wife was heavily involved in the January 6th insurrection but has refused to recuse himself from a case involving her.

Despite calls from Ocasio-Cortez and the American people, impeachment is not likely. While it is possible to impeach members of the Supreme Court, the procedure calls for a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans are currently split 50-50, and while Vice President Harris could break a tie, that of course would not be enough.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Protesters take to the streets in Seattle
Across the country, angered Americans took to the streets on Friday to protest the Supreme Court's decision. In Seattle, the light rail system was backed up on Friday afternoon as protesters in the hundreds made their way downtown to express their anger. One young protester, Kennedy, sat on the floor of the train working on her sign. "Honestly, I'm just really upset, and so I'm going to the protest. I talked to my grandma this morning, and she was like, 'Just do what you can,' so here I am, this is what I'm doing," she said.

Protesters gathered at the Federal Building downtown to share their anger, mourn the loss of their rights, and vow to continue fighting.

"When the decision came down this morning, my cheeks just flushed with rage," said Kelly Froh. "No one is surprised that this happened, but we're just feeling very emotional about it today, and I just wanted to be with other women, with other people, today."

Froh was honest about her despair, sharing a sense of hopelessness protesters across the country carried with them. "Do I think a protest is going to turn it all around? No, but I think that's where connections are made, where people can feel some solidarity. So I painted a dumb sign, and down I go downtown. I'm just hoping for solace in the fact that so many people are affected by this and it's horrible," she added.

A massive crowd filled the steps of the Federal Building and overflowed onto the sidewalks and across the street. The energy of the event rose with each speaker who stepped forward to share their stories, condemn the Supreme Court decision, and unite with others through their shared emotions.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Seattle speaks out
For the sake of anonymity and safety, many speakers at the rally only used their first names.

Some speakers, like Darnelle, addressed the effects the ruling will have locally. Despite Washington remaining one of the most liberal states in the country and not changing its abortion laws, the state will still be impacted by those in neighboring areas who now may travel here to receive healthcare.

"Our state is expecting a 300% increase in abortion demand from other states," Darnelle said. "We must welcome, support, protect, and fund our sisters from out of state. If you can fund abortion, do so."

Other speakers, like Christina from the Freedom Socialist Party, reminded listeners of the intersectional repercussions the ruling will have. "The high court of this country has eroded or terminated access to safe and legal abortion for women, and Transgender and Nonbinary people. This will have a terrible impact [on] all women, but especially... for low-income women, women of color, young women, and Transgender people. Poverty will increase, and the health and well-being of many will decline. I hate to say this, but there will be lives lost because of this horrible decision."

Some speakers shared personal stories, like Angela, a student of social welfare, who shared her experience with abortion. Six months into a pregnancy she had planned and was excited about, Angela found out her baby had died.

"The doctor came into the room, and he told me three things. He told me that my son had died, he said that I had the option to go home, even though at that point my life was in danger because I was already having some complications, and that if that didn't work, just going home to see if I would give birth to that baby. He said, 'You need to find another doctor, because I will not perform the procedure that you will need to save your life.'

"That was because of his political beliefs and complete disregard for my life," she continued. "I don't ever want to hear a story like mine again. I don't want to know that there are women out there who are being denied healthcare by their doctors because they don't want to perform a procedure that would save their life."

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Protesters take part in civil disobedience
After several speakers, an organizer with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights came forward to declare that the event would include civil disobedience. For 49 minutes, people were asked to occupy the streets, one minute for every year Roe v. Wade was in effect.

Somberly, the activists took to the streets. Counterprotesters joined, egging on the abortion activists with signs about heaven and hell. One man stood in the center of all the action, dressed in a white dress shirt and tie, and read his Bible aloud. All around him, protesters took out their anger on the religious right, dumping water on the man's head and ripping out pages of his Bible.

In the middle of the street, protesters sat down and held up their signs. Cyclists barricaded the intersections on both ends of the block, protecting the protesters.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Two protesters taking part in the civil disobedience were Frances and Jo. Frances said they were protesting "because fuck the establishment we are currently in."

"Yeah, I am pissed with the SCOTUS. They should not have overturned that decision that's 49 years of precedent, and I'm frustrated, as someone with a uterus," Jo added. "They're not listening, and it's time they fucking listen."

"The only way we are going to make any change is if we revolt, and that's why I'm here," Frances said.

Once everyone willing to risk arrest to participate in the civil disobedience had filled the street, more speakers came out to the center of the action. They included medical assistants from Planned Parenthood, activists from local political organizations like Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, and concerned students and young people.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Kshama Sawant speaks out
One of the biggest reactions from the crowd was for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. "Millions of people are rightly angry at this ruling, and thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, are protesting today across the country," Sawant said. "Our anger cannot simply be at the Republicans and the right wing — while certainly, they have been the instigators of this. The Democratic Party and its affiliates have enabled this to happen. Democrats have had 50 years — 50 years — to codify Roe into law. They have utterly failed to do so."

Sawant argued that the Democrats failed to codify Roe because of the influence of capitalist donors who aid their political careers. She recalled the leaked ruling, which informed the public over a month ago that Roe would soon be on the chopping block. "Even with the leak, the same Democratic Party completely failed to form any kind of semblance of a fight back," she said.

"When this ruling came out this morning, so many people around me asked, 'What do we do? Where do we go from here?' And I say regardless of anything else, if we don't learn one lesson, then nothing else is going to work. If we take one thing away from what has happened, it is that we cannot put our trust in the institutions or the Democratic Party. We need to organize independently to win back our rights," she said to a roar of applause.

Unlike other politicians who have spoken out against the decision and voiced their sadness or anger, Sawant called for action and informed the crowd of her plans to use her position to help solidify abortion access in the Pacific Northwest. "This morning, from my office, I announced legislation to make Seattle a sanctuary city for abortion rights," she said.

"We, unfortunately, will not have the jurisdiction to make those warrants go away, but what we can do is tell Seattle police that this is not your priority to arrest and prosecute people for getting an abortion. Our message to our [sisters] nationwide is to let anyone come to Seattle without fear of prosecution," Sawant continued.

"We are also calling on the governor and state legislature to pass legislation to make the state a sanctuary state for abortion rights. My office will also be bringing a people's budget amendment to the budget, to make abortion in Seattle free for anyone. And how will we pay for it? Tax the rich!"

Sawant finished her speech by reminding the crowd that progress is not necessarily made by voting but by acting.

"Fighting for our rights and winning back those we have lost means fighting for socialist feminism. Socialist feminism means basing ourselves on working-class struggles. Socialist feminism means recognizing that it is no accident that the Democrats have failed to codify Roe and are still not fighting — it's because the party is in defense of the capitalist system, and the needs of billionaires are always above the rights of ordinary people and the oppressed. They are always defending the rich, and know they'll have abortion rights, regardless."

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Activists march through downtown
After the speakers finished, the organizers of the event called on those in attendance to participate in a march downtown. Protesters grabbed their signs and made their way along the streets to chants of "Abort the court!"

Anti-fascist protesters also showed up on the margins of the procession, knocking on glass windows and overturning garbage cans. They held up flares and signs that read, "You said you'd riot!" The protesters received support from onlookers, who recorded and cheered them on.

A small group of counterprotesters tried to engage with marchers but were quickly taken outshoved aside by the masked anti-fascists, which later drew a greater police presence to the scene.

Peaceful protesters scattered toward the far side of the street as the march returned to the Federal Building, and police began making arrests. At one point, small tear gas canisters were unleashed, although it was unclear whether they were from police or anti-fascist protesters.

Photo by Lindsey Anderson  

Once everyone had made their way back to the stage, a few more speakers stepped forward — including one of the youngest members of the protest, an 11-year-old who shared their outrage at the court despite not fully grasping the complexities of the federal system.

As the event wound down, community leaders urged those moved to action to continue to come out and support Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protests and marches and asked for anyone financially able to donate to support those coming to the state in need of an abortion.

For people who turned out, especially first-time protesters, the event was very empowering. Two friends, Megan Lee and Keiko Betcher, reflected on everything they saw on Friday. Lee said she decided to show up "because the SCOTUS fucking sucks. It's an injustice for women's reproductive rights. How are we going back to a time when reproductive rights were impossible? Like, that's just unbelievable."

Despite their rage, Lee and Betcher found the event inspiring. "I thought it was super empowering," Lee said. "It was cool to see a bunch of people mobilize. I mean, it's Seattle, so obviously, there's going to be a bunch of people doing their stuff, but it was empowering to see a bunch of people go. I didn't think that many people were going to show up."

"Yeah, it's cool that it happened in, like, a day," Betcher added.

Community actions
Refuse Fascism, Students 4 Abortion Rights, and Rise 4 Abortion Rights will all be hosting ongoing protest events for the foreseeable future. For more information on how to join, visit https://riseup4abortionrights.org.

The organization is also supporting an ongoing economic protest in which uterus-owning people and their allies are being asked to withhold spending money so as to crash the federal economic system and bring attention to the crisis facing reproductive justice.