WASHINGTON: Beaming young women chanted in joy as a machine spat out bubbles and party music blared in front of the US Supreme Court, which had just revoked the federal right to abortion. Someone shouted “We won” and another cheer rose from the anti-abortion campaigners, one of whom waved a sign bearing a tombstone marked 1973-2022 — the lifespan of that right in America.
“I am so over-the-moon, overjoyed, excited at the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This is a new era of feminism,” Faith Montgomery, an 18-year-old student, shouted over the music. A parallel demonstration just steps away was filled with rage, disbelief and pledges of resistance against the ruling on one of the most politically incendiary issues in a deeply polarized nation.
“Coat hangers… and whatever crazy things women used to think they could do to get rid of a pregnancy — now we’re going to be back to that again,” said Amy Senkowicz, 63, who was visiting from Florida. She had a legal abortion when she was 16, just a few years after the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed women’s right to the procedure, and she was horrified to see that right taken away.
“I think it’s awful,” said the mother of three. America’s split on the issue was brought into clear relief by the competing demonstrations that at times engaged in shouted debates that did not appear to spill over into violence. The scene was under heavy police surveillance and riot officers with helmets and shields stood by as some members of Congress spoke outside the fenced and guarded court building. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, a Democrat from California, told AFP: “This takes us back to a time when I will have less rights than my mother and grandmother. I’m furious.”
The decision will likely become a rallying cry for Americans supportive of women’s ability to choose to have an abortion, the way Roe V. Wade was one for decades for conservatives. Anna Lulis, 24, with an anti-abortion group called Students for Life of America, said activists are already moving on to the next steps in their advocacy. They will be “informing our community but also going to the states, which are going to now push radical pro-abortion laws, in order to cultivate a culture of life there,” she said.
The decision opens the door for states to restrict or forbid abortion, but does not prevent them from allowing the procedure. Lulis noted that abortions done with medication will rise after Friday’s ruling, and added her group would be making sure there’s “nothing illegal going on behind the scenes.” “Our goal is to abolish abortion completely,” she said, arguing there needed to be “common sense medical standards” to protect women’s health in cases where pills are used.
Abortion proponents were also looking at what comes next, especially with key legislative votes coming in November that could sweep away Democrats’ narrow hold on Congress. “It’s going to be a long, long, long fight to bring things back to the way they were,” said Senkowicz, the mother of three. Yet some were left with a feeling that the court has been overrun by the feverish politics of America’s culture wars that have developed around issues like abortion and gun ownership.
“They are beholden and enslaved to the people who nominate them,” said Kim Boberg, 49, referring to the court and its overwhelming conservative majority after three Donald Trump-era appointments. “It should be above politics but it’s not,” she said, worried about the possibilities the decision could open up. “So what’s next? Is it the morning after pill? Is it contraception? How many rights have to be taken away before it’s enough?” – AFP