Abortion clinics have begun closing in some states in the US after a Supreme Court ruling on Friday removed American women’s constitutional right to abortion.
According to the BBC, about half of states are expected to introduce new restrictions or bans after the court reversed its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.
And 13 states have so-called trigger laws in place that will see abortion banned within 30 days.
US President, Joe Biden, has described the ruling as ‘a tragic error.’
In Phoenix, Arizona, police fired tear gas after pro-choice protesters banged on the doors and windows of the state capitol. In Los Angeles, protesters briefly blocked traffic on a highway.
At an abortion clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas – a state with a so-called trigger law allowing an instant ban – the doors to the patient area shut as soon as the court’s opinion was posted online. Staff made calls to tell women that their appointments were cancelled.
A nurse, Ashli Hunt, told the BBC that, “No matter how hard we prepare for bad news, when it finally hits, it hits hard. Having to call these patients and tell them Roe v Wade was overturned is heartbreaking.”
Escorts at the clinic, who stood in the Arkansas heat day in and day out to accompany patients through the throng of protesters, held a group hug.
The lead escort, Miss Karen, said, “I thought that this country would still care about people. Would still care about women.”
A protester at people still parking their cars at the clinic who had not heard about the decision yet, shouted, “You are on notice! My suggestion is for you turn around and leave this place of sin, this place of inequity, this evil place.”
In New Orleans, Louisiana – another trigger law state – the Women’s Health Care Centre, one of only three abortion providers in the state, was closed on Friday and its staff had gone home.
Outside the clinic, volunteer escort, Linda Kocher, told the BBC that rich women would still be able to access abortions in other states but “poor women will end up in a back alley” for illegal procedures.
Overall, the Supreme Court ruling is expected to mean about 36 million women of reproductive age will lose access to abortion in their states, according to research from Planned Parenthood, a healthcare organisation that provides abortions.
The decision was met with elation by anti-abortion campaigners outside the court in Washington, but protests against the ruling were scheduled in more than 100 cities on Friday, with more expected through the weekend.
Although abortion is a divisive issue in the US, a recent Pew survey found that 61 per cent of adults say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37 per cent say it should be illegal all or most of the time.