By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press
The abortion bans that went on the books in some states if Roe v. Wade began to take effect automatically on Friday, while clinics elsewhere — including Alabama, Texas and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions for fear of lawsuits, sending women to tears.
“Some patients collapsed and couldn’t speak through their sobs,” said Katie Quinonez, executive director of West Virginia’s only abortion clinic, whose staff spent the day calling dozens of patients for cancel their appointment. “Some patients were stunned and didn’t know what to say. Some patients didn’t understand what was going on.
America has been rocked with anger, joy, fear and confusion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The canyon-like divide across the United States over the right to terminate a pregnancy was on full display, with abortion-rights supporters calling it a dark day in history, while haters of the abortion hailed the decision as the answer to their prayers.
By eliminating the constitutional right to abortion that has existed for half a century, the High Court left the politically charged issue to the states, about half of which are now likely to ban the procedure.
The reaction across the country has largely unfolded along predictable political lines.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat in a state where abortions are available with few restrictions, called the decision a “war on women” and vowed to stand as a “brick wall” for help preserve the law. Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has promised to seek an abortion ban after 15 weeks.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a conservative Republican widely seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, tweeted: “The Supreme Court has answered the prayers of millions upon millions of Americans.
The issue is sure to intensify the fall election season. Both sides intend to use the issue to energize supporters and get them to vote.
“This country is teetering to the right, taking away rights. Voters are going to have to intervene,” said Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, U.S. House Majority Whip.
Some states, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, had “trigger law” bans on the books that went into effect as soon as Roe fell.
In Alabama, the state’s three abortion clinics have stopped performing the procedure for fear that providers will now be prosecuted under a 1951 law.
At the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, staff had to tell women in the waiting room Friday morning that they could no longer perform abortions that day. Some had come from as far away as Texas for a date.
“A lot of them just started to break down crying. Can you imagine if you had driven 12 hours to get this care in that condition and you’re not capable of it?” the clinic owner said. , Dalton Johnson Patients were given a list of out-of-state locations that still perform abortions.
Abortion providers across Arizona have also stopped doing procedures as they try to determine whether a law dating back to pre-state times – before 1912 – means doctors and nurses now face punishment. from prison.
In Texas, providers wondered which law they should follow: a 1925 ban, a 2021 law that limits abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy, or a trigger law that outright bans the procedure but does not would come into force for a month or more. After. The confusion led them to suspend abortions while they sought legal advice.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has warned they could face immediate prosecution for performing abortions under the Prohibition-era ban, which is punishable by two to five years from prison.
It was the risk of prosecution under a 19th-century prison-like abortion ban that led the West Virginia Women’s Health Center to stop performing the procedure.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, said he would not hesitate to call the Legislature into a special session if the ban needed to be clarified.
The High Court’s decision sparked strong reactions across the country.
Carol E. Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, was “absolutely furious.”
“They want women to be barefoot and pregnant again,” she said. will fight. I think it’s going to be a long, hard fight. »
Garrett Bess, who works with a lobbying arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, said his group would continue to press states to restrict abortion.
“We will work with ordinary Americans to ensure the protection of pregnant women and babies,” Bess told the Supreme Court. “It’s been a long time coming, and it’s a welcome move.”
Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans favor preserving Roe.
Among them is Alison Dreith, 41, an abortion activist in southern Illinois, where the governor has pledged to keep the procedure accessible. She said she fears for the safety of abortion workers, especially those helping people from states where the procedure is banned.
Dreith works with the Midwest Action Coalition, which provides money for gas, childcare and other practical supports to women seeking abortions.
“I absolutely believe they’ll try to come after me. I’m not cut out for prison, but I’m ready,” she said, “and I say, ‘Let’s do it.’ Do you want to choose this fight with me?
AP reporters from across the United States contributed to this report. Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale
For full AP coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, go to https://apnews.com/hub/abortion
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.