Proponents and opponents of abortion rights seek next step after overthrow of Roe v. Wade

Americans took stock one day after the Supreme Court overturned a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, as states began enacting bans and proponents and enemies of abortion rights charted their next steps.

The deep emotion unleashed by Friday’s decision sparked protests and prayer vigils across the country, with Arizona lawmakers even hiding for a while in a basement while police fired tear gas into a crowd.

In Charleston, West Virginia, at least 200 abortion supporters gathered Friday night for a candlelight vigil outside the federal courthouse after the state’s last abortion clinic was forced to cancel all of its appointments.

Katie Quinonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, told the crowd she threw her phone against the wall of her office when she learned that Roe v. Wade had been destroyed after nearly 50 years. Her staff called 70 patients scheduled for the next month “to tell them their abortions had been canceled and that we would have to send them out of the state, and that was it.”

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Quinonez vowed to continue the fight for abortion rights: “This is not the end at all… Tonight we mourn, we rage. We’ll get started tomorrow.”

In Arizona, thousands of protesters — divided among proponents and opponents of abortion rights — gathered outside the Capitol on Friday night. Police fired tear gas to disperse anti-abortion protesters pounding the glass doors of the Senate building, and lawmakers, rushing to wrap up their 2022 session, huddled in a basement.

Clinics in Arizona stopped performing abortions after the decision, as did those in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Women considering abortion have already faced an almost complete ban in Oklahoma and a ban after about six weeks in Texas.

In Ohio, a ban on most abortions from the first detectable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge overturned a ban that had suspended the measure for nearly three years. Another law with minor exceptions was triggered by the Utah ruling and went into effect.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, which was central to the Supreme Court case, continued to see patients Friday. Men outside used a megaphone to tell the people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic attendants wearing colorful vests used large loudspeakers to blast Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” at the protesters.

The ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in about half the states, and people on both sides of the issue predicted the battle would continue.

Click to play video: 'BC clinics could see more US patients after decision to bring down Roe v. Wade'

BC clinics could see more US patients after decision to take down Roe v. Wade

BC clinics could see more US patients after decision to take down Roe v. Wade

In Minnesota, where abortion is still legal, Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order to help protect people seeking or having abortions in his state from legal repercussions in other states. In neighboring South and North Dakota, the Supreme Court ruling led to an immediate abortion ban and a 30-day ban, respectively.

Walz has also vowed to deny extradition requests for anyone accused of committing reproductive health care acts that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota.

“My office was and will remain a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” he said.

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In Fargo, North Dakota, the state’s only abortion provider plans to cross the river into Minnesota. Red River Women’s Clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker said on Saturday she has secured a location in Moorhead, but did not provide further details.

Thirteen states, mostly in the South and Midwest, already had laws banning abortion in the event Roe was overturned. Another half a dozen states have almost total bans or bans after 6 weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

In about half a dozen other states, including West Virginia and Wisconsin, the battle will revolve over dormant abortion bans enacted before Roe’s 1973 decision, or over new proposals to severely limit the number of abortions.

Click to play video: 'Roe v. Wade Destroyed: Can Canada Restrict Access to Abortion?'

Roe v. Wade quashed: Can Canada restrict access to abortion?

Roe v. Wade quashed: Can Canada restrict access to abortion?

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers told the Associated Press on Saturday that he will support legal action to overturn a 173-year-old state ban on abortion. He also said he would not appoint prosecutors to enforce the law and would commute prison terms for anyone convicted under the law.

“We’re looking at everything,” he said.

Four years after winning the election by a narrow margin, Evers said he believes the issue will boost independents and hopes to turn anger over Roe’s demise into voices this fall.

“Anytime you take half the people in Wisconsin and make them second-class citizens, I have to believe there’s going to be a reaction to that,” Evers said.

Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associate Press reporters Dave Kolpack in Minneapolis and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan contributed to this story.

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