WASHINGTON – Anguish and anger erupted across the country Tuesday as abortion rights advocates began flooding the streets, from the steps of the Supreme Court to New York, Nevada, Texas, and California, protesting the potential decision by the nation's highest court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
While abortion-rights groups have been warning of the pending decision that would permit states to ban abortions without exception, the leak Monday night of a draft opinion supported by a majority of justices galvanized fear and frustration, and protesters raised their voices.
In addition to scattered protests nationally, organizers from the Women's March, a global protest held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017, called on supporters of abortion rights to rally outside federal courthouses and other government buildings.
'Crying all morning': Protesters gather outside Supreme Court
By 5 p.m., the size and energy of the abortion rights crowd outside the Supreme Court in Washington grew significantly as organizers passed out signs and led chants including “my body,” my choice” and “pro-life is a lie, you don’t care if people die.”
Songs including “This Is America” played as the crowd and an increasing number of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies milled around, waiting for a march to Tuesday evening.
George Washington University freshmen Ellie Small, 19, and Emma Hearns, 18, took a break from studying for finals earlier in the day and voiced their concerns outside the Supreme Court.
"We are here because it's a really scary time to be a young woman," Small said.
Jen Miller, 37, stood in silence giving the nation’s highest court the middle finger. “It just makes me feel better,” she said.
Calling the leaked Supreme Court document a “bad opinion,” Miller said she hopes the news encourages Democrats to fight back – first by “bombing” the filibuster and passing a law to protect abortion. “I want the Democrats to do their damn job,” Miller added.
Mary Skinner, a 23-year-old TikToker with more than 1.4 million followers, joined others at the Supreme Court protest after “crying all morning," she said.
“We're just so heartbroken and disgusted and shocked,” Skinner said. “Maybe we shouldn't be shocked. But we are, and since we're local, I mean, you have no choice but to come out.”
Skinner said she attended the first Women’s March while in college and left feeling hopeful. But five years later, “it’s somehow worse,” she said.
For Gabrianna Andrews, access to allow a woman to choose is necessary.
"I am a survivor of rape and severe trauma, I realize that access to abortion is necessary and saves women's lives," the 26-year high school educator of Maryland said. "I could not imagine seeing my rapist's face every day in a child."
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate in Washington
Earlier in the day, anti-abortion activist Kristin Monahan, 30, demonstrated outside the Supreme Court . A self-described feminist, leftist and atheist, she was part of the smaller but vocal crowd supporting abortion bans.
"I already feel like it makes more sense for people who support pro-peace values – anti-war, vegan, anti-death penalty – it makes more sense for people like that to be against abortion, because abortion is violence, and it's the mass killing of young human beings,” Monahan said.
Others agreed, calling for states to have the right to make such decisions.
“Abortion is oppression," Maggie Donica, 21, said through a megaphone. Though she described herself as anti-abortion, Donica said her primary reason for protesting is to return the right to decide on abortion to states.
Overturning Roe "is a statement of neutrality," she said. "It gives the states back the right to make their decisions."
Make your voices loud': More protests organized across the nation
Organized demonstrations sprawled far beyond Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, from California to North Carolina.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets Tuesday evening in downtown Los Angeles, marching toward Pershing Square. The march appeared to spur conflict between police and demonstrators — the Los Angeles Police Department declared a city-wide tactical alert in response to the protest, placing all officers on high alert, CBS reported.
LAPD Chief Michael Moore said one officer was injured after the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles.
Protests took place earlier in the day in Denver and Reno, Nevada, where protesters gathered in front of a federal courthouse building downtown. There, Rosie Gully, a regional organizer with NARAL Pro-Choice, managed to yell herself hoarse even before officially kicking off the “Rally to Restore Roe.”
“There are going to be floods of people looking for care,” Gully told a few dozen supporters outside the Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and federal building. “And we have an election coming up that will decide whether we get to keep this right to choose.”
Sonya Giroux, a 51-year-old mom from Reno, was less diplomatic.
“I’m getting really tired of this bull----,” Giroux hollered through a bullhorn. “Make your voices loud and keep up the fight! This is really important.”
In Quincy, Massachusetts, a large group of abortion rights protesters gathered in front of city hall.
Anne Meyerson of Quincy stood with a sign bearing a coat hanger that read: "We will never go back." She said her father-in-law was left orphaned as a young boy when his mother died from an unsafe, illegal abortion.
"People forget what it was like," Meyerson said. "Fifty years later, I never thought we'd have to have this fight again."
Karla Gonzalez, 24, a demonstrator in Raleigh, North Carolina, said she woke up to "pure outrage" upon learning about the news Tuesday morning.
Gonzalez said several friends have had trouble seeking reproductive health care in North Carolina in recent years. Local abortion funds have said they don't have enough money to help all patients seeking abortion services, including those who come from neighboring states with more restrictions.
Abortion is already "so incredibly hard to come by" in North Carolina, Gonzalez said, even for those who live in more metropolitan areas.
"So I can't even imagine what this is going to do," she said of the leaked Roe v. Wade opinion.
Dozens of people gathered in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday to protest the leaked opinion. Kelly DeJong, who had an abortion at age 19 while in college, was one of them.
“I was very nervous, but I felt like an abortion was the right choice for me at the time. I was able to finish my degree and move on with my life and choose when I got to have my family on my time,” shared DeJong, who is now a 43-year-old mother of two girls.
“Being here today is important now because of them,” she added. “I think that being able to have an abortion safely in a medical environment, not having to leave the state, means that it’s safe and accessible.”
Do Americans support overturning Roe v. Wade?
A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday found that a majority of Americans support the Supreme Court upholding Roe v. Wade. The poll, conducted last week, found 54% of Americans support upholding Roe, while 28% support overturning it. The poll found 18% had no opinion.
About 49% of the nation said abortion should be "legal and accessible" in USA TODAY/Ipsos poll published in April. Only about a third of Republicans felt that way, compared with 73% of Democrats.
The Roe decision in 1973 found that laws criminalizing abortions violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirmed the rights upheld in the Roe ruling and changed the standards for laws around abortion.