WASHINGTON — Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization declaring that the Constitution does not contain a right to an abortion, activists on both sides of the contentious debate gathered outside the Supreme Court to react to the ruling.
The Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision Friday morning, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The announcement of the Dobbs decision comes less than two months after Politico published a leaked draft opinion in the case indicating that a majority of justices were poised to overturn Roe.
Soon after the release of the Dobbs decision, activists on both sides of the abortion debate gathered outside the Supreme Court to either celebrate or decry the decision, depending on their position on the issue. The sidewalk directly in front of the government building was fenced off due to concerns of violence breaking out in response to the expected ruling on the polarizing issue of abortion.
Pro-life activists expressed their support for the ruling by holding signs reading, “I am the post-Roe generation,” “The future is anti-abortion,” “I am the pro-life generation, “Protection at Conception” and “Equality Begins in the Womb.” Students for Life of America was one of the most prominent pro-life groups outside the Supreme Court, with its members wearing T-shirts proclaiming, “I am the pro-life generation” as they were interviewed by various national media outlets.
Brooke Paz, the director of government affairs for the pro-life organization, told The Christian Post that she was “amazed” and “incredibly relieved” by the decision.
“The moment that Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, read the decision, we just all burst into tears,” she recalled. “Even though we figured this would happen with the leak, now that it’s real, it’s reality, it’s incredible, it feels amazing.”
Paz insisted that “this is only the beginning for us,” adding: “We’re celebrating today but we’re going to continue working tomorrow and every day after that.” Going forward, Students for Life of America will “continue working in the states and on the federal level to pass as many life-affirming legislation as we can.”
The activist identified bans on chemical abortions and “heartbeat bills” that ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected at both the state and federal level as the focus of the pro-life movement going forward.
Justin, a college student from the Washington, D.C. area, shared Paz’s enthusiasm about the Dobbs decision. He described himself as “happy,” “good” and “great” following the ruling, which he characterized as a “win for men and women and children, for Americans, for Republicans, for Democrats, for everybody.” After reiterating his belief that Dobbs was a “win for people,” he declared: “it’s a great day.”
While pro-lifers were understandably elated by the Dobbs decision, pro-choice activists gathered outside the court to express their disgust with the ruling. Opponents of the Dobbs decision chanted phrases such as “Not the judge, not the state, women must decide their fate” and “F— the courts and the legislatures, women are not incubators!” They held signs reading “My body, my choice,” “F— SCOTUS, we’re doing it anyway,” “I will aid and abet abortion” and “bans off our bodies.”
Jamie Manson, president of the pro-choice organization Catholics for Choice, discussed her feelings about the Dobbs decision in an interview with CP.
“It is a gut-wrenching moment for this country, for the 600,000 people who get abortions annually in this country, and especially for the poor and the vulnerable who will suffer the most because of this decision,” Manson said.
Manson outlined several actions she wanted to see the federal government take to protect access to abortion, adding: “We need our elected officials to act. We need Congress to act; we need the president to act. We need the president to declare a public health emergency, we need Congress to pass [the Women’s Health Protection Act]. This is the moment, this is a defining moment for them to try to rescue freedom and rights in this country.”
She concluded the interview by highlighting the results of a poll finding that 68% of Catholics did not want to see Roe overturned” before declaring that “What we have right now is religious beliefs codified into civil law and it’s a terrible infringement on religious freedom in this country.”
Fr. Tim Wezner, a Catholic priest from Detroit, Michigan, who is studying in Washington, D.C., shared his thoughts on the Dobbs decision as he clutched a rosary in his hand: “I’m very much in favor of it. I think they made a good decision.”
“I think it’s been a long time coming. Roe v. Wade was bad law,” he added. “The decision says that. I think they made the right choice.”
Wezner also addressed the results of the poll finding that 68% of Catholics supported Roe. He attributed high support for the decision that legalized abortion among Catholics to “the influence of the culture” as well as “bad catechesis sometimes from their pastors or from their church.”
“The reality is just because 68% of Catholics believe in abortion doesn’t make it right. 99% of people could believe in abortion. It doesn’t change the truth behind it.”
Wezner maintained that he was outside the Supreme Court to “pray for thanksgiving” and “pray for healing for our country and for all involved, for protection, for safety, for softening of hearts.”
Catherine, a Catholic from Rhode Island, told CP “I think abortion is a horrible decision to have to make, but I truly think that it should be up to the woman and I really don’t like how our rights are being revoked.” She classified the Dobbs decision as “a huge step backward for humanity” while emphasizing that “abortion is a horrible, horrible thing.”
Protests in front of the Supreme Court are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., made an appearance outside the court Friday afternoon, where she lambasted the Dobbs decision as “illegitimate” and urged people to march “into the streets” to demonstrate their opposition to the ruling. Pictures circulating on social media reveal that businesses in the nation’s capital and throughout the country are boarding up in anticipation of violence.
Pro-life celebrations of the Dobbs decision will continue into the weekend as well. Students for Life of America is holding “Life is Louder” events outside state capital buildings in 24 states at 11 a.m. local time Saturday, as the Dobbs decision means that states will now have a say in the legality of abortion.
Sixteen states have passed measures codifying the right to abortion into law, meaning that abortion will continue to be legal in those states throughout all or most of pregnancy following the Dobbs decision. An additional 21 states will now have the ability to enact bans or strict restrictions on abortion that were unenforceable with Roe on the books. Ten states will continue to enforce existing abortion laws and/or restrictions while three other states could put abortion law before voters at the ballot box in the near future.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: [email protected]