abortion

Protests Erupt at Supreme Court After Abortion Case Ruling

A decision on the major abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization is spurring strong reactions, and security around the Supreme Court has been heightened

NBC Universal, Inc. Demonstrators gathered until late Friday outside the Supreme Court after its ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. News4’s Walter Morris reports.

Droves of protesters descended on the Supreme Court Friday in the wake of justices overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after 50 years.

The demonstrations continued into the night with speaker after speaker addressing the crowd until the rally ended shortly before 11 p.m. and the crowd dispersed.

Protesters for and against a federal right to abortion gathered outside the court within moments of the ruling's announcement. Cheers erupted from anti-abortion rights demonstrators, and some women were seen crying.

"We won't go back! We won't go back!" pro-abortion-rights demonstrators chanted. "My body, my choice!"

U.S. Capitol Police said protesters are allowed to peacefully demonstrate as long as they follow officers' directions.

The crowd continued to grow into the afternoon. The scene was loud and largely peaceful.

Some pro-abortion rights groups were seen with green and orange signs reading: "Overturn Roe? Hell No" and "Abortion on demand and without apology." A crowd of anti-abortion demonstrators was seen in red and blue shirts that say, "The pro-life generation votes."

Authorities separated two crowds from each other, which is common at major protests in the nation's capital.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Anti-abortion protesters celebrate the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Pro-abortion rights protesters react as the Dobbs v Jackson Womens Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade is handed down at the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., US, on Friday, June 24, 2022. A deeply divided Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and wiped out the constitutional right to abortion, issuing a historic ruling likely to render the procedure largely illegal in half the country.
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An aerial view of people gathered at Washington Square Park to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022 in the Manhattan borough of New York City, United States.
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Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., US, on Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Pro-abortion demonstrators gather outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2022.
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Abortion-rights activists gather for a protest following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at Union Square, Friday, June 24, 2022, in New York.
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(From left to right) Grace Miller (11), Luke Miller (13), Leo Miller (5) and Faith Miller (15) hold signs at an anti-abortion rally at Federal Plaza Friday, June 24, 2022, in Chicago, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
People protest for abortion-rights at the Utah State Capitol Friday, June 24, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
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Abortion rights demonstrator reacts outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., US, on Friday, June 24, 2022.
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A demonstrator holds a sign outside the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. on Friday, June 24, 2022 protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
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Anti-abortion supporters hug outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2022. The US Supreme Court on Friday ended the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shreds half a century of constitutional protections on one of the most divisive and bitterly fought issues in American political life.
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Pro-abortion supporters react outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2022.
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Polama Amayo-Ryan stands as a lone demonstrator at the steps to the state capitol in Austin, Texas, Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Anti-abortion rights and abortion rights demonstrators hold signs outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., US, on Friday, June 24, 2022.
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An abortion-rights protester sheds tears following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Members of Florida Planned Parenthood PAC Abortion rights activists protest in Miami, Florida, on June 24, 2022.
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Executive director of Illinois Right To Life Amy Gehrke speaks during an anti-abortion rally at Federal Plaza Friday, June 24, 2022, in Chicago.
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Anti-abortion campaigners celebrate outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Abortion-rights protesters cheer at a rally following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022.
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Abortion rights demonstrators during a protest in New York, US, on Friday, June 24, 2022.
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People march together to protest the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
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Abortion rights demonstrators march through the streets to protest the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.
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A crowd protesting the overturning of Roe V. Wade by the Supreme Court holds a rally outside the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Friday, June 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Demonstrators gather at the federal courthouse following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
An abortion-rights activist wears tape reading “second class citizen” on their mouth as they protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
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A celebration outside the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington.
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Rise4AbortionLA members protest the overturn of Roe v. Wade outside of the Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles Friday, June 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Abortion rights activists gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
People celebrate outside the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Raquel Juarez protests for abortion-rights at the Utah State Capitol Friday, June 24, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Anti-abortion activists Maggie Donica, 21, right, and Grace Rykaczewski, 21, left, pray following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.

D.C. Police on High Alert Amid Protests

The Metropolitan Police Department is on high alert and will be under a "full departmental activation" until Tuesday to support demonstrations, police and Department of Homeland Security officials said in a statement. MPD says it is coordinating with federal partners.

"Mayor [Muriel] Bowser has been briefed and is committed to providing the necessary resources and support to keep our community safe," the statement said. "As the nation's capital, we take seriously our responsibility to support First Amendment rights."

“People should expect an increased visible police presence throughout the city," D.C. police told News4.

Other D.C.-area police departments are monitoring the situation, including police departments in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, each home to several Supreme Court justices.

The Montgomery County Police Department said it won’t provide tactical information and that U.S. Marshals plus Supreme Court police provide security for justices.

“However, the department’s district commanders are aware of important sites within their districts and are directing resources appropriately,” the department said.

Fairfax County police say they are increasing staffing this weekend.

The Supreme Court has been surrounded by 8-foot-tall fencing since shortly after a draft opinion on the case was leaked on May 2, drawing pro- and anti-abortion rights groups to demonstrate. The fencing keeps demonstrators off the Supreme Court plaza, which is typically open to the public. More fencing was added in recent weeks.

Support for abortion rights hit a new high ahead of the decision, with 60% of Americans saying abortion should be legal in some form, according to an NBC News poll.

Strong Reactions From Pro- and Anti-Abortion Rights Groups

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia, waded into the crowd of demonstrators. She told reporters that the decision is a "blessing" and an "answered prayer," NBC News reported.

One pro-abortion-rights demonstrator wearing an American flag mask, bandana and scarf said she saw Greene and got pushed away by bodyguards.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court after the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling was issued, which overturns the landmark abortion Roe v. Wade case June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

"I was screaming at her to stop being racist," the woman said. "Look at what the Supreme Court has done. They are ruling in favor of the Republicans. That's what it is."

"This is going to affect the Hispanic community, the African-American community, because women, we are more vulnerable. We don't have insurance," she continued.

"For 50 years, one-third of my generation has been slaughtered due to the violence of abortion," another protester said. "Well, the survivors have risen up and we will not stand for the dismemberment, and poisoning, subjugation of the most at-risk among us any longer."

Pro-abortion-rights demonstrators expressed dismay. Some were carrying banners or cloth in green, a color used to show support for abortion rights.

Alya Madhani, a teenager wearing a green armband given out by an abortion-rights supporter, said she was in D.C. on vacation but wanted to see the demonstrations.

“It’s so crazy for me personally. I’m adopted. So, knowing other mothers out there can’t make a choice… it’s pretty hard,” she said while fighting tears. “I wanted to yell.”

But she said she’s hopeful, too: “It’s really empowering, though, to see younger people on the front there."

“I feel betrayed, and I feel lost,” 19-year-old Skye, who came to D.C. from Virginia to demonstrate, told NBC. “Hopefully, in the future, we can have some progress and not just be moving backward.”  

“I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t think I had to be here because it’s settled law. I hope you know that, Clarence Thomas, and I hope you know that, Alito, and the rest of the justices that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. I am very disappointed, it’s not going to stop abortions, it’s just going to make them unsafe,” Cathy from Fairfax, Virginia, said.

The decision means states can bar people from terminating pregnancies, and many states had "trigger laws" in place to stop abortions if Roe were overturned.

About two miles from the Supreme Court, one protester said they scaled the Frederick Douglass Bridge to call on Congress to protect abortion access under federal law.

They flew a green banner from the top of one of the bridge's sweeping arches in Southwest D.C. — a city with some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Security Heightened at Supreme Court, Justices’ Homes

The U.S. Department of Homeland security warned of a “heightened threat environment” in its June 7 National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, saying that the abortion case was one of several current events that could inspire violence.

DHS says it is coordinating with the FBI and other agencies to monitor potential threats.

There’s also concern for security at Supreme Court justices’ homes.

The House approved Senate-passed legislation that would provide security to family members of Supreme Court justices, sending the bill to President Joe Biden nearly a week after an armed man was arrested outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh's house.

Protesters have marched regularly near their homes in the D.C. area. Those demonstrations have been peaceful but spurred the Republican governors of Maryland and Virginia to call for enhanced security. Fears escalated after the arrest at Kavanaugh’s home.

A handful of demonstrators walked back and forth in front of Kavanaugh’s home Friday, where there was a large police presence. Montgomery County police won’t allow protesters to remain stationary in front of the home.

About two dozen pro-abortion rights demonstrators peacefully protested for almost an hour Friday evening outside of the entrance to the gated community where Justice Thomas lives in Fairfax Station. They pledged to return every Friday night until abortion rights are restored.  

U.S. Marshals have been providing “round-the-clock” security at Supreme Court justices’ homes, CNBC reported last month.

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