It’s been four days since the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade — dismantling a constitutional right that’s been in place for a half-century and granting states the green light to ban abortion — and a lot has happened.
On Friday, the court’s conservative bloc flexed its muscle in the bombshell 5-4 ruling, underscoring the influence that the three newly confirmed justices, each nominated by President Donald Trump, may have on future decisions. In its opinion, the conservative majority went beyond resolving the case before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the landmark abortion rights cases Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Now, it’s up to states to decide whether abortion will remain legal or not. Each week, we’ll chronicle the major developments — from Congress to the White House, from policy moves in the states to public opinion during the midterms. Here are the first reactions from a post-Roe America:
Access immediately restricted in five states; more bans expected
Abortion was illegal in five states as of Monday, as several states activated so-called trigger laws that immediately banned the procedure following the court’s decision. A judge in a sixth state, Louisiana, temporarily blocked enforcement of his state’s abortion ban on Monday.
Clinics in states where abortion is illegal or at risk stopped providing the procedure over the weekend, sending people with appointments scrambling to find other options, according to the New York Times.
Abortion is expected to soon become illegal in 16 states, and still others may soon see restrictions through court action or pre-Roe bans, according to a POLITICO analysis. These bans may come with criminal penalties for abortion providers or patients.
Blue state governors pledge resistance and expansion
As access contracts in much of the country, leaders in blue states have sought to position themselves as safe havens for people seeking abortion.
Democratic Govs. Gavin Newsom of California, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington pledged a wide range of protections to abortion providers and patients on Friday, including expanding the group of providers who can perform abortions, access to medication abortion and access to telehealth for reproductive health care. They also said they would resist extradition requests from other states with laws against abortions.
Back East, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican, also signed an executive order on Friday protecting abortion patients and providers from potential extradition requests, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, announced a public information campaign about abortion rights and payment options in her state, where state law protects abortion access.
And in Illinois — a state already accustomed to providing abortions to patients from nearby states with more restrictions — Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Friday that he planned to call a special session of the state Legislature to “further enshrine our commitment to reproductive health care rights.”
Democrats rally messaging around midterms, ask Biden for action
As they currently lack the votes to codify abortion rights nationally, Democratic leaders have rallied around a future-oriented message to supporters since Friday: If you want to fix this, you’ll have to turn out to vote.
“This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart-wrenching, but make no mistake: It’s all on the ballot in November,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday.
Additionally, more than 30 Senate Democrats asked President Joe Biden to take “bold action” on abortion access, though they did not outline any particular policies.
In a widely shared Twitter thread, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged Democrats to be more specific with their messaging to voters, and to take actions apart from campaigns, including court expansion and opening abortion clinics on federal land.
“Be honest. Details motivate,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
Collins and Manchin ‘misled’ and ‘deeply disappointed’ by justices
Soon after the ruling, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voiced criticism of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who claimed the precedent set by Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be overturned during their confirmation hearings. Both senators voted to confirm the Trump-nominated justices.
In an interview with The New York Times, Collins said she felt “misled” by the decision, explaining that she had pressed Kavanaugh on his Roe stance in a private meeting prior to the confirmation hearings. Collins’ staff took diligent notes of the judge’s comments, which included reassurances that he wouldn’t oppose the precedent: “I am a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of judge. I believe in stability and in the Team of Nine.”
As the only Democrat to support Kavanaugh’s confirmation and one of three to back Gorsuch, Manchin also felt duped afterwards, saying that he “trusted” the two justices when he voted to confirm them. In a statement, he said he was “deeply disappointed” that the two justices testified under oath that Roe was settled legal precedent.
Despite describing himself as pro-life, Manchin stood by the Roe precedent and called for bipartisanship to protect abortion rights:
“Let me be clear, I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected,” he wrote. “I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that.”
Nationwide protests illustrate ideological divide
Massive crowds of abortion rights advocates swarmed the streets of major cities nationwide following the ruling, expressing frustration and anger as some states prepared to roll back abortion rights immediately. But not everyone turned out to mourn the decision.
In cities including Boston, New York, Chicago, Nashville, Washington and Los Angeles, crowds of people who supported the court’s ruling struck a sharp contrast to abortion rights supporters, illustrating the country’s deep divide on the ideological issue. Overall, 56 percent of Americans oppose the overturning of Roe v. Wade, while 40 percent support it, according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Monday.
Many protesters voiced concern for the implications the ruling could have on the future. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas expressed his willingness to reconsider precedents set by Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell, which, respectively, established a right to contraception for a married couple, overturned criminal sodomy laws and required states to recognize same-sex marriage. In the majority opinion, however, Alito repeatedly stated that overturning Roe would not threaten other precedents.