WASHINGTON – It didn’t take long for the crowds to mass and the passions to surge.
Within hours of a leaked report that the Supreme Court has decided to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, throngs began to congregate in front of the high court to celebrate and condemn what would be a politically seismic ruling.
The leak involves a draft Supreme Court opinion – not an official ruling – published by Politico that suggests the court is considering a decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.
But few issues before the Supreme Court ignite Americans’ passions as much as abortion, and word of the potential ruling was enough to motivate protesters on both sides of the volatile issue to show up at the court as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning.
Waving signs that read “Bans off our bodies” and chanting “Hey Hey, Ho Ho –; abortion bans have got to go” several hundred abortion rights protesters descended on the steps of the court. A smaller group of anti-abortion protesters gathered as well.
A line of young women sat in front of the court, holding signs reading “this will kill women” “I wouldn’t exist without abortion” and “we should choose our own destinies.”
Abortion-rights activist Emma Hearns,18, said news of the leaked memo “infuriated” her enough to come to the court and protest.
More:Report: Leaked draft Supreme Court opinion suggests majority may overturn Roe v. Wade
“Because first they’re gonna take Roe they’re gonna take away abortion, and then it’s … birth control, and then it’s gay marriage. Every right that people have worked so hard for years to gain just gone,” the George Washington University student from New York told USA TODAY. “And we didn’t elect any of these people.”
But anti-abortion protesters made their voices heard too, some with posters showing fetuses.
Jonathan Darner, 40, northern Virginia, is a conservative Christian activist who has been fighting against abortion rights for 13 years. He said tonight’s leaked decision, if it holds, is only a “half win.”
“A court decision won’t end abortion, it will just make it illegal,” said Darner who’s concerned pro-abortion states will have even more abortions and that the decision could create “abortion tourism.”
More:‘Five-alarm fire’: leaked abortion memo from Supreme Court has lawmakers, candidates reacting
Christian Vitek is a 21-year-old University of Albany student who is finishing a semester in Washington and graduates next week.
When he heard the decision, he ripped off a piece of cardboard and made his sign: “Abolish the filibuster!”, a reference to the key procedure the GOP minority has used to stop the advance of key issues, such as abortion rights, in the Democratic-controlled chamber.
More:Supreme Court deliberations are supposed to be secret. So how did a draft abortion opinion leak?
Vitek said he was raised by three generations of women, including his mother who was pregnant with his brother while she was in high school.
“Women deserve to have the opportunity to choose,” he said.
As the protests began to dissipate around 1 a.m., a group of women supporting abortion rights vowed not to leave.
Their chant? “We’re never going back.”