People rally for abortion rights at a protest following the leaked draft opinion that Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade; the skyline of Seattle is in the distance in the background

Local Reactions and Protests in Response to Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

by Phil Manzano

The U.S. Supreme Court formally overturned Roe v. Wade on the morning of Friday, June 24. The South Seattle Emerald has rounded up a variety of reactions, stories, and developing protests about the decision, starting with the lead story from Politico, which published a leaked draft of the ruling in May.

“The Supreme Court on Friday revoked the constitutional right to an abortion that has been in place for half a century — overturning Roe v. Wade on a 5-4 vote, clearing the way for dozens of states to swiftly ban the procedure and throwing the country into uncharted political, legal, social and medical territory,” according to Politico.

According to The New York Times, the decision will lead to a patchwork of varied state policies around abortion rights. In 13 states, restrictive laws were triggered following the ruling; all will go into effect within a month, with many more expected to follow suit. As conservatives and anti-abortion advocates cheered the decision (the president of the National Right to Life Committee called it “a great day”), critics and the liberal justices themselves say it may lay the groundwork to reverse laws affirming same-sex marriage and contraception.

Reaction from Washington, D.C., to Washington State was swift. As thousands descended on the Supreme Court, protests were already taking shape in Seattle and throughout the state.

“As one of the one in four women in this country who has had an abortion,” said U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, “I am outraged for what this will mean for those who need abortion care — particularly those who will be most harmed by this decision: Black and Brown women, those who live in rural areas or have lower incomes and can’t afford to cross state lines for care, young people and LGBTQ people, and women in abusive relationships.” 

Jayapal, a Democrat from Seattle and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the statement soon after Friday’s court decision was released. 

“The Supreme Court has now mandated forced pregnancy, taking away an intensely personal freedom for pregnant people to make decisions about our own bodies with a doctor or loved one, and instead bringing politicians into your decision and your bedroom. Every woman, every family, every pregnant person should fear what this means for their futures,” Jayapal said.

At a rally last month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vowed, “Washington State was a pro-choice state, Washington State is a pro-choice state, and we are going to fight like hell to keep Washington a pro-choice state.” 

Shortly following the ruling, Inslee joined with the governors of California and Oregon in a Multi-State Commitment “to defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, and committed to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to our states.”

“Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care,” Inslee noted in the statement. “The right of choice should not depend on which party holds the majority, but that’s where we find ourselves.”

“More than half the nation’s population now lacks safe access to a medical procedure that only a patient and their doctor can and should make for themselves,” Inslee said. “Instead, law enforcement, vigilantes and judicial systems can force patients to bear the burdens of forced pregnancy and birth. Washington state remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care, and we will fight like hell to restore that right to patients all across the country.”

A person holds a coat hanger and a sign at an abortion rights rally that reads "PROTECT SAFE, LEGAL ABORTION"
A sign from the May 3 protest at Kerry Park after a draft opinion was published showing the Supreme Court was going to overturn Roe v Wade. (Photo: Alex Garland)

Seattle and King County leaders quickly denounced the decision, including Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, who shared her personal story about abortion in the South Seattle Emerald last month. 

“While this is a moment of unspeakable sorrow, we must not let it lead to despair,” Morales said in a statement Friday. “One in four women in this country have had an abortion. I am one of them. And I am terrified and outraged for the many people who will need abortion care today and every day forthcoming, particularly Black and Brown folks across the country. Make no mistake, this ruling is the Supreme Court mandating forced pregnancy, taking away the right to self-determination and personal freedom.”

A “sea of protesters” rallied to the Supreme Court Friday, a harbinger of the emotion and fury that cities across the U.S. may see starting tonight.

“An emotional crowd of hundreds carried signs and chanted ‘My body, my choice’ at the steps of the Supreme Court as they grappled with news that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was struck down after five decades,” USA Today reported. “Elsewhere, abortion-rights advocates in cities including Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and New York City planned protests for Friday evening. There were also protests planned in Florida, Missouri, Georgia and Texas.”

In Seattle, the Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice “is calling on everyone who supports legal abortion to hit the streets when the Supreme Court issues its decision on the pivotal Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case.”

Three protests will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, with Women’s March at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave., and Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St.

Another protest is scheduled at Yesler Terrace Park (903 Yesler Way), hosted by Shout Your Abortion. Its press release said, “SYA, a Seattle-based, nationwide organzation, is mobilizing groups all over the country to aid and abet abortion.” Sign-making materials and cards will be available at the park.

Other protests around the region and state are occurring this weekend, according to The Seattle Times.

Phil Manzano is a South Seattle writer, editor with more than 30 years of experience in daily journalism, and is the interim news editor for the Emerald.

📸 Featured Image: People joined Washington leaders Tuesday, May 3, 2022, to protest a draft opinion published Monday night showing the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, a ruling ensuring the right to an abortion. (Photo: Alex Garland)

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