How the Supreme Court rewrote national abortion law

Today saw a tectonic shift on abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court remade the legal landscape, throwing out the precedent laid down 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. John Yang explores the decision, the praise, the protest and how the day unfolded in Washington and around the nation.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's a tectonic shift on abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court today remade the legal landscape, throwing out the precedent laid down 50 years ago in Roe vs. Wade.

    We will be dedicating most of tonight's program to the decision and the praise and protest that it has touched off.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    Outside the Supreme Court, jubilation and celebration for some.

  • Protester:

    My body!

  • Protesters:

    My body!

  • Protester:

    My choice!

  • Protesters:

    My choice!

  • John Yang:

    For others, rage coupled with resolve.

  • Protesters:

    Goodbye, Roe!

  • John Yang:

    Today's decision has been much anticipated since early May, when Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion was leaked.

  • Protester:

    Rise up! Rise up!

  • John Yang:

    The court's ruling ends the constitutional right to an abortion, a right that had been the law of the land for nearly 50 years. Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

    The liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, dissented. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join his conservative colleagues in overturning Roe. He said there was no need to do that in order to uphold a 15-week Mississippi abortion ban that was the subject of the case.

    At the White House, President Biden quickly condemned the decision and urged Congress to act.

  • President Joe Biden:

    The court has done what it has never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized.

    The court's decision to do so will have real and immediate consequences. The only way we can secure a woman's right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law.

  • John Yang:

    In a statement, former President Trump called this the biggest win for life in a generation. He went on to take credit for it, saying it was "only made possible because I delivered everything, as promised."

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in at her weekly news conference.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    American women today have less freedom than their mothers, for 50 years, the constitutional right for women to have the right to choose. The hypocrisy is raging, but the harm is endless.

  • John Yang:

    House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed a win.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.:

    The people have won a victory. The right to life has been vindicated. The voiceless will finally have a voice. This great nation can now live up to its core principle that all are created equal, not born equal, created equal.

  • John Yang:

    Today's ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states. Some have laws triggered by the overturning of Roe or pre-Roe laws still on the books.

    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her state's 1931 law is unenforceable.

  • Dana Nesse, Michigan Attorney General:

    In the event that the Court of Appeals or later the Michigan Supreme Court were to overturn that, then the 1931 law would spring back into effect. But, as of right now, it is unenforceable. So, everything remains the same as it was yesterday at this time, but just for now.

  • John Yang:

    Corporate America also responded. The Walt Disney Company announced it would pay for employees' travel if it was needed to access family planning and reproductive care. Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Netflix and Amazon, among others, had already pledged to offer similar benefits.

    From overseas, leaders weighed in on the historic ruling.

  • Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister:

    I think it's a big step backwards. I have always believed in a woman's right to choose. And I stick to that view. And that's why the U.K. has the laws that it does.

  • John Yang:

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted it was "horrific."

    French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron wrote: "Abortion is a fundamental right for all women."

  • Protesters:

    This is what democracy looks like!

  • John Yang:

    As the day wore on, the crowd outside the Supreme Court grew. Gatherings are expected in cities across the country later tonight.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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