WASHINGTON - Reactions are pouring in following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, marking the end of constitutionally protected abortion rights in America.
President Biden said Friday that "it’s a sad day for the court and the country" and warned the "health and life of women across this nation are now at risk."
"Our summer of rage has just begun," said leaders from Women’s March, a group that organized in 2017 following the election of former President Donald Trump. "We’ll see you in the streets."
Republican leaders and conservative groups applauded the decision.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters that "a lot of lives are going to be saved."
"But it also goes back to people in the states to have a say in the process," he said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland called the decision "a devastating blow," but said it "does not eliminate the ability of states to keep abortion legal within their borders."
"The ability to decide one’s own future is a fundamental American value, and few decisions are more significant and personal than the choice of whether and when to have children," Garland said in a statement. "Few rights are more central to individual freedom than the right to control one’s own body."
He also said states cannot challenge an FDA rule that allows the use of the medication Mifepristone, one of two pills used for a medical abortion.
"States may not ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy," Garland said.
Vice President Kamala Harris called it "a healthcare crisis."
The decision by the court’s conservative majority is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. Less than 10 minutes after the ruling was released, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced on Twitter that Missouri had become the first state in the nation to "effectively end abortion."
The ruling came more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.
Alito, in the final opinion issued, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.
"We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives," Alito wrote.
Three of the court’s liberal justices wrote in a joint dissent that the decision would bring "sorrow" for the many millions of American women who will be losing a "fundamental constitutional protection."
"We are devastated for the 36 million women that no longer feel safety and autonomy over their bodies," Women’s March leaders said in a prepared statement. "For the women who will be refused life-saving care, all because men that can’t even spell the word anatomy thought they knew what was best for a woman’s health and safety. And we’re devastated for working class Black and brown women, who already have the highest rates of maternal mortality in the developed world, for whom this law is an all-out assault on their health and safety."
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called it a "victory for life."
"Life wins!" she said in a prepared statement. "Millions of Americans are celebrating today’s ruling and a pro-life movement that has worked tirelessly for decades. For a half century unelected judges have dictated American’s abortion laws. This historic ruling rightfully returns power to the American people to enact laws that protect unborn children and support mothers everywhere."
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: The U.S. Supreme Court Building is seen through a temporary security fence on June 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
The decision, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court that has been fortified by three appointees of Trump.
Trump called it the "biggest win for life in a generation."
"Today’s decision … along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court," Trump said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat, said he "trusted" Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that Roe v. Wade was "settled legal precedent."
"I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans," Manchin said in a prepared statement.
What's next for abortion rights in the U.S.?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at a press conference Friday, said GOP members of Congress will push for a nationwide ban on abortion if they win majorities in both houses.
"Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers," Pelosi said.
McConnell said a nationwide abortion ban is possible when questioned about it in May.
"With regard to the abortion issue, I think it’s pretty clear where Senate Republicans stand," he told USA Today five days after the draft Roe v. Wade opinion leaked.
The White House has been exploring options for Biden to take executive action to safeguard abortion rights, but his options are limited.
Lawrence Gostin, who runs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law, said ahead of Friday's ruling that he expected the Biden administration to be "to be nibbling around the edges, and is not going to do anything really profound."
Gostin said he’s discussed a variety of options with administration officials but believes they are "gun shy" given the potential for legal challenges that could lead to more roadblocks from a U.S. Supreme Court that’s currently dominated by conservatives.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, attended a recent virtual meeting with abortion providers and said she expects "a true health crisis."
"I think that we should have been preparing for far longer than we have been," McNicholas said. "Do I think that they recognize that this a problem? Yes. Do I think that they’re prepared in this moment? No."
Former President Barack Obama said the decision "not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.