Roe vs Wade: Protests sweep the US after abortion rights overturned

Protests have erupted across the US after Roe vs Wade was overturned. US Correspondent Emma Murphy has the latest

Abortion rights advocates staged protests across the US on Friday after the Supreme Court scrapped the constitutional right to abortion.Protests were held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as in Chicago, Seattle and other cities. In New York and Los Angeles, people chanted: "Rise up for abortion rights."

It comes after the Republican-controlled court ended constitutional protections for abortion that have been in place for nearly 50 years by deciding to overturn the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling.

It is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.

Pro-abortion and anti-abortion demonstrators pictured outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday. Credit: AP

In Phoenix, police reportedly fired tear gas from the windows of the Arizona Capitol building to disperse hundreds of people demonstrating outside, as lawmakers briefly huddled in a basement.

The lawmakers were working to complete their 2022 session as thousands of protesters gathered on the Capitol grounds in Phoenix on Friday night.

KPHO-TV reported the officers opened fire when several anti-abortion protesters started banging on glass doors of the building. It wasn’t immediately known if there were injuries or arrests.

Riot police surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona Senate building. Credit: AP

Protests also took place in the UK. More than 100 demonstrators gathered outside the United States embassy in London, many holding signs, some reading “our bodies, our choice”.

Pro-choice campaigners and MSPs also gathered outside the US consulate in Edinburgh.

Protesters in London. Credit: PA

The Biden administration and other defenders of abortion rights have warned that a decision overturning Roe also would threaten other high court decisions in favor of gay rights and even potentially contraception.

Speaking from the White House, US President Joe Biden said: "It’s a sad day for the court and for the country.”

He urged voters to make it a defining issue in the November elections, declaring: “This decision must not be the final word.”

Two young women with contrasting perspectives on abortion share their views

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the US court's decision as a “big step backwards”, adding: “I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose.”

UK politicians from across the spectrum spoke out against the decision, including the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, who said it will embolden anti-abortion and anti-women forces in other countries too.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Today’s devastating Supreme Court decision is a massive setback for women’s rights in the United States of America. The right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies is a fundamental human right.”

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn also called it “devastating”, and co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, said it is a “truly barbaric ruling, and heartbreaking news for women everywhere”.

Nimco Ali, the government’s independent adviser on tackling violence against women and girls, called the decision “an assault on women’s human rights, their lives and their families”.

Some UK groups have been quick to hit out at the ruling, with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), the UK’s leading abortion provider, saying it is “appalled”.

Other groups have welcomed the decision, such as charity Christian Action Research and Education (Care), who said “the most compassionate societies esteem and protect” both mothers and babies.

Chief executive Ross Hendry said: “Limiting access to abortion must be accompanied by appropriate support for women experiencing crisis pregnancies, and families raising children.

“This is what a true pro-life ethic looks like.”

Spokeswoman for the Right To Life UK group, Catherine Robinson, said the ruling overturns “an unjust law” and is the “beginning of the legislative battle over abortion, certainly not the end”.

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