Outrage as US abortion laws set to be overturned: 'Makes me sick'

Women's rights advocates banded together outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC on Monday night amid rumours the decision to legalise abortion in the US will soon be overturned.

A draft opinion, leaked by Politico, suggests the US Supreme Court will vote to have the historic Roe v. Wade case revoked which would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Although it's unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter, the mere suggestion has sent shockwaves through America.

Barricades went up around the Supreme Court building on Monday night (local time) just minutes after the report came out, according to a Washington-based political commentator.

And within hours, hordes of people flocked to the scene armed with placards in protest of the court's alleged ruling.

Thousands have stormed the US Supreme Court following leaked documents suggesting abortion laws will be overturned.  Source: Getty
Thousands have stormed the US Supreme Court following leaked documents suggesting abortion laws will be overturned. Source: Getty

People outraged over supreme court decision

The initial mood of the protest at the Supreme Court was quiet and peaceful, with people silently holding signs and candles, according to reports

But as the crowd continued to grow in size, so did the anger among them with thousands reported to have joined the protest.

Videos shared on Twitter show the dramatic scenes unfold late on Monday night, as the protest continues into the early hours of Tuesday morning (local time).

People can be heard chanting "abortion bans have got to go" and other pro-choice slogans, as thousands "stand up and fight back" against the proposed ruling.

"Things are not dying down anytime soon, it seems. A handful more counter-protesters have showed up, but it’s still dominated by pro-choice activists," one person wrote on Twitter.

"No violence or anything I’ve seen. But very tense in the nation’s capital tonight."

What does the leaked draft opinion mean?

Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in US politics and has been for nearly half a century.

The 1973 Roe v Wade decision recognised the right to personal privacy under the US Constitution protects a woman's ability to choose to terminate her pregnancy.

A subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – reaffirmed abortion rights and prohibited laws imposing an "undue burden" on abortion access.

Christian conservatives and many Republican politicians have long sought to overturn it.

The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion which is dated February 10, according to Politico.

Based on Alito's opinion, the court would find the Roe v Wade decision that allowed abortions performed before a fetus would be viable outside the womb, between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.

"Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion," Alito said, according to the leaked document.

The leaked document holds the potential to reshape the political landscape ahead of US midterm elections in November.

If Roe is overturned, abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal states. Currently, more than a dozen states have laws protecting abortion rights.

Numerous Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in defiance of the Roe precedent in recent years.

It's believed Republicans could try to enact a nationwide abortion ban, while Democrats could seek to protect abortion rights at the national level.

People are protesting with placards and chanting outside the Supreme Court. Source: Getty
People are protesting with placards and chanting outside the Supreme Court. Source: Getty

'Greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years'

Following the document leak, the reaction was swift from elected officials in Congress and across the country.

Congress’s top two Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, shared a joint statement on the matter.

"If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years — not just on women but on all Americans," they said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, said people seeking abortions could head to New York.

"For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Abortion will always be safe & accessible in New York," she said in a tweet.

Others on Twitter have shared their thoughts on the matter as anger and frustration erupts on social media.

"It makes me sick that Roe vs. Wade is being overturned. Why are we going backwards in terms of women’s rights?" one said.

"One of the most disgraceful decisions in the history of the United States," said another.

On and offline, people are saying "f*** Alito".

with AAP/AP/Reuters

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