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Good evening and welcome to this PBS news Hour special.
The End of Row.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
The Supreme Court today delivered one of its most consequential decisions in generations, ending the constitutional right to an abortion.
The court overturned Roe v. Wade, nearly five decades after an earlier court first guaranteed those rights.
The ramifications of this decision are going to be far reaching.
But tonight we're going to look closely at the court's decision.
What will change in many states and how this will affect women and families around the country?
John Yang begins with a report on the decision and the immediate reaction today outside the Supreme Court jubilation and celebration for some choice, others rage coupled with resolved Today's decision had been much anticipated since early May, when Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion was with 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 and 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 the court has done what has never done before.
Expressly take away a constitutional right.
That is so fundamental.
So many Americans had already been recognized.
The court's decision to do so we'll have real and immediate consequences.
The only way we can secure women's right to choose.
The balance that existed.
Is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law.
In a statement, Former President Trump called the ruling 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.
American Women today have less freedom than their mothers from 50 years of constitutional rights.
For a woman having the right to choose.
Chrissy is raging.
But the harm Is endless.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy claimed a win.
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.
Today's ruling is likely to lead to abortion dance and about half the states.
Some have lost triggered by the overturning of Roe or pre roll laws still on the books.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her states 1931 law is unenforceable in the event that The court of Appeals or later, the Michigan Supreme Court were to overturn that then the 1931 law which bring 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.
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, JPMorgan Chase, Netflix and Amazon, among others, had already pledged offer similar benefits.
From overseas leaders weighed in on the historic ruling British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
I think it's a big step backwards.
I've always believed in a woman's right to choose, and I stick to that view, and that's why the The UK has the laws that it does Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
It was horrific, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron wrote.
Abortion is a fundamental right for all women.
What's like as the day wore on the crowd outside the Supreme Court grew Across the country in Detroit in Boston in New York, protesters spilled into the streets to decry the end of a long standing constitutional right.
I'm John Yang.
To unpack today Supreme Court opinion, including its conservative majority and the liberal descent, We turned out to Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal.
Welcome Back to the program.
Marsha, this is a big one.
Put this in context, though, in the In the pantheon of major Supreme Court decisions.
Where does this one fit?
This is huge.
It's been I can't even remember when the Supreme Court last Revoked a right that, uh, American citizen held and so this one was nearly 50 years old had also been reaffirmed multiple times and rolling the clock back.
Essentially, is that right?
It's going to be.
There will be a patchwork of laws around the nation, either having abortion, legal or illegal.
Will we see some of the deaths and injuries that occurred pre Roe when desperate women may have gone to back alley type abortions?
I don't know.
It will depend on how some of these abortion laws are structured.
We did have an inkling this was coming.
The leaked draft opinion written by Justice Alito that came out In May and we see some of that same language in this opinion.
I want to quote we hold it.
Roe and Casey must be overruled.
The Constitution makes no reference to abortion.
And no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provisions, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely on.
That provision has been held a guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution.
But any such right must be quote deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition.
And the right to abortion does not fall within this category.
So explain what the Justice Justice Alito was getting out there.
Judy, the conservative majority on this court.
Approaches the constitution.
Bye and constitutional rights by looking at the text of the Constitution, tradition and history.
Justice Alito in the abortion opinion, he said, there was nothing in the text of the constitution.
It supports a constitute an abortion.
There are many respected American historians who disagree.
And also challenged the ability of the courts and judges in general to do the kind of historical research that is required to reach these kinds of conclusions.
So Marcia As we see the Chief Justice John Roberts, he does sign onto the majority opinion.
But just quoting from what he wrote, he said, if it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case Then it is necessary not to decide more.
Surely we should adhere closely to principles of judicial restraint here, where the broader path the court chooses entails repudiating a constitutional right.
We have not only previously recognized but also expressly reaffirmed, applying the doctrine of story decisis.
So what is justice chief the chief justice, saying he wanted to, uh, only deal with the line that Roe and Casey drew about abortion bans that you could not be an abortion before viability That, said 22 to 24 weeks.
He felt that that was not Uh, clearly justified line.
He was concerned about the court's legitimacy and making this ruling at this time, and he agreed with that part of the Alito majority opinion that did get rid of the viability line.
But he would not, as you said, go so far as to overrule the entire row in Casey decisions.
And Marcia, as we know there was a strongly worded dissent by the three liberal justices.
Here is what part of what they wrote.
In today's opinion as a matter of constitutional substance.
The majority's opinion Has all the flaws.
It's method would suggest, because laws in 18 68 deprived women of any control over their bodies.
The majority approves states doing so today.
Today's decision strips women of agency over what Even the majority agrees is a contested and contestable moral issue.
It forces her to carry out the states will whatever the circumstances and whatever the harm it will wreak on her and her family in the 14th amendments terms, it takes away her liberty.
The descent had a lot of problems.
Obviously, with the majority opinion first, the history the point Justice Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor made very clearly was that the history that the majority relied upon The laws at the time that they looked at were all made by men.
Women at the time did not have rights that basically any rights at all.
So that was one flaw, the other flaw.
Very important flaw they felt, was it.
The majority failed to To stand by old precedents, and that's known as starry, decisive.
The descent felt the majority did not properly apply the factors that the court has generally applied when determining whether to overrule an earlier precedent factors like reliance and workability.
Uh, And so I think those were the two main takeaways.
One other thing I would add about the majority opinion, Judy that I think is kind of important.
Is that going forward?
How will courts judge abortion regulations and restrictions and the majority opinion says that all estate has to do is justify that regulation.
On by a rational, reasonable basis, and that is considered the easiest form of constitutional scrutiny.
So what does that mean for the state courts?
It means it.
State and federal courts will be probably upholding many more abortion regulations and restrictions than they have done in the past.
Marcia Coyle beginning to digest this Most historic and significant decision handed down today by the Supreme Court, Marsha Thank you.
My pleasure, Judy.
We're going to hear from leaders on both sides of this issue about what comes next.
First, I'm joined by Marjorie Dannenfelser.
She's the president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro Life America organization.
Welcome to the news hour.
So what is your reaction?
The reaction of the anti abortion movement?
How much of a victory is this?
Well for the pro life movement.
This is a culminating moment of 50 years of what we believe is the greatest human rights movement of our time.
Uh, and every single abortion there are two that must be served and the experience of women since 1973 when they were told that this would be the great Liberator has not been that it has been quite the opposite.
And now when now that the states and the Congress, every elected body, we it will be able to discuss this issue.
In the public square.
The merits of the arguments will be made it out in ways that aren't closeted as the Supreme Court required all those 50 years ago, and the will of the people will make its way into the law and women will be served in ways that they deserve.
I do want to ask you because you told another reporter today.
Um, you said that you and others will work to ban abortion.
And I'm quoting in every state and every legislature, including the Congress, So is your goal.
To ban abortion nationwide.
I think that if you look at what I said, you would see that I will work, and so will the pro life movement.
So will all the legislators.
So will Democrats that don't like abortion after the first trimester?
To work to be as ambitious as possible, and every single legislature that will be different state to state to state North Carolina will be different from Alabama will be different from Vermont and California.
It means that the state law will reflect the will of those people we see.
And you're aware of this public opinion polls have been done by pew.
I mean, The news hour itself is commissioned polls and the last couple of months that show still that a majority of Americans think Roe thought that Rose should not be overturned that most people believe American women should have a right.
To an abortion.
So how does that public view square with what we're seeing today?
Do you think Judy I I have to believe that you have looked at the rest of those polls.
When you look at the rest of those polls, you see that Democrats women, diverse groups of people.
This is not a partisan issue think that abortion should at least be Restricted in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
This seems reasonable to most people again.
It doesn't please both sides, but it definitely is something that is a consensus in this nation doesn't reflect that pole bit that you just communicated and it's because people want restrictions.
People want limits that rose simply would never have allowed and that is not been understood.
I do want to ask you one other question Marjorie Dannenfelser, and that is one that comes up from the anti abortion movement.
And that is the fundamental unfairness of saying to women who don't have the financial means who live in states where abortion will no longer be legal that they are, in effect, either going to To give birth to a child.
They are not prepared to give birth to, whereas women who have financial means are going to be able to travel somewhere if they want an abortion to get it.
What What about that?
That would be unfair if that were true, But pro life, not anti abortion is pro life at birth and throughout life, And that is the commitment of the pro life movement.
It is my personal commitment, every leader that I know and not just that small number of people, but the governor's that I've spoken to 22 so far in the states that are most likely to limit abortion.
Um, very early on that commitment to those who are perceived as outliers.
People who are perceived as can't manage, um, allowing their Children to be born.
Those are the people that we go to first.
Those are the people that we love Love.
Is that the center of this movement and it is exactly what makes us flourish.
And while we will succeed, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
Thank you very much.
The president of Susan B. Anthony, Pro Life America.
We appreciate it.
And now to Alexis McGill Johnson.
She is the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
It's the political arm of the country's largest abortion provider.
Alexis McGill Johnson.
Thank you very much for joining us.
So what is your reaction to this historic decision?
Well, obviously, Judy, I'm devastated.
Um, you know, it is, um So challenging to have lost faith and hope in, um and, uh, the institution that controls literally our bodies, our freedom.
The fact that they came out with this decision, even though we thought a leaked version of it, Um, uh, less than a month ago, it feels Even harder to to see it come to fruition.
What do you think the practical effect of it is going to be for American women for American families?
The practical effect is that you know, people will have to go to great lengths to get out of their states to get access to care.
We know that 26 states are poised to ban access to abortion or severely restrict access.
We know that 36 million women and non binary and trance folk will be affected by this decision.
We know that people who will be most impacted are likely to be low income rural black brown indigenous communities who B lack the resources to be able to get out of state, so it means that many people will be forced into pregnancy and that will have a devastating consequences for the families.
They're currently caring for much less themselves and their communities.
And what does it mean for planned Parenthood and for other organizations like yours that that support abortion rights?
What do you do now?
Oh, look, I I have lost hope in the court.
But I have a lot of hope in the people.
Now is the time for us to fight back, and that is exactly what we are planning to do.
We are mobilizing people across the country to ensure that they know what is at stake to ensure that every lawmaker every corporation every university understands.
The impact that this will have on their constituents on their workforce on their communities on their students, and to ensure that no one gets to stay neutral in this moment.
No one gets to say, Well, that's a complicated, controversial issue.
I don't want to touch when it starts to impact your community.
You will have to take a stand and we're going to force everyone.
Who is in every community to have that conversation around.
What's the play right now?
And what about the effect politically there?
This is a midterm election year.
What do you see?
Happening Now, Look, I think President Biden said it today and his, um his remarks to the country row is on the ballot.
This is going to be a driving force for millions of people to the polls.
We know that people are devastated and outraged, and they should be because the court just overturned 49 years.
They just took away a right that we have guaranteed been guaranteed and lived with for 49 years, and people are enraged.
So we know that the midterm election is certainly going to be an incredibly important competitive set of elections and for every every place from The Senate to the House, two governor's races across the country and the state Legislature, the anti abortion movement, many of its leaders are now saying they are not stopping with this.
They are going to look now to try to ban abortion.
How will you respond to that?
They've been forecasting this for so long that we have to fight back and be just as relentless to fight their extremism.
And that is exactly what we are going to do.
Can you imagine in a state like New York or California when these laws start to start to encroach upon those freedoms?
People will be riled up and we know they will be out in the streets to fight back.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for having me in many ways life in this country for people with unwanted pregnancies after today's reversal of Roe won't be quite the same as it was pre 1972.
For one thing, medically induced abortions have now become the method that more than half of American women who end their pregnancies use.
But for a generation of women who remember what life was like before Roe, they see far too many parallels to that era.
I'm the Nevadas has that part of the story.
It was just not something that any woman should have to go through.
Just just simple as that.
Now 81 year old Roberta Brandis Gratz was a reporter in New York City in her twenties, when she had an unplanned pregnancy.
She traveled to a clinic in Puerto Rico for what was then an illegal procedure in New York state and across much of America.
It was the kind of hospital where women gave birth as well as had abortions.
So you heard babies crying and you saw women who were there?
For the same reason you were.
I had an aesthetic.
It did not totally take So it was partially painful.
It was humiliating because I knew I was doing something illegal.
Before the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade abortions were prohibited in 33 states and only allowed in special circumstances in 13, others.
But women in those states still had abortions, some through unsafe so called back alley procedures.
Others tried to induce abortions themselves.
We had almost no options.
He would either put yourself at risk by self inflicted, um, an abortion using knitting needles, crochet needles, anything that could stop Take big black pills.
That was no other option that I knew anything about.
Billy Avery is a healthcare activist.
She's been working on reproductive rights issue since 1971.
At the time, women would also travel to terminate their pregnancies abroad or to New York were abortions were legalized in 1970.
But Avery says that kind of travel just wasn't possible for many women, she counseled in Florida, where the procedure was illegal in most cases, A black woman came and we started giving her this information, she said.
I don't have any money to go to New York.
I don't know anybody there and about a month or two later.
For myself induced abortion.
So that really opened my eyes that even if we had access to abortion Women didn't have the means by which the paper it that's still didn't really have access throughout the 19 fifties and 19 sixties.
An estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed a year in the United States.
Hundreds of women died every year from botched procedures.
In the early 19 sixties.
In New York City alone, abortion accounted for half of all child birth related deaths among non white and Puerto Rican women.
There were septic abortion wards in hospitals.
Of women who had tried to either induce their own abortion.
Or Went to someone who wasn't reliable, wasn't trustworthy and had done damage to them.
As a graduate student in 1965, Heather Booth co.
Founded an underground abortion service in Chicago, using a code name.
I said we could use my phone but change it so that they don't ask for Eleanor.
How about Jane?
Nobody's called Jane anymore.
We had the phone numbers on bulletin boards around Chicago, pregnant called Jane.
A new film The Jains, airing on HBO and HBO.
Max tells the story of those women who called themselves the service between 1969 and 1973.
Using a network of secret communications and safe houses to protect each other and the women seeking help the Jains performed thousands of safe and affordable abortions.
Women would launch into these stories.
I have three Children.
I have no more money.
Mike has been sleeping or my husband is sick or I don't have a husband.
I want to go to college and I've got the scholarship.
And if I don't do this now They were really Cogent and important reasons.
But we would really tried to make clear to them.
They didn't have to justify themselves.
What we were trying to do was to create a caring community where there was a women's orientation of support.
Of Helping women both through this decision and on with the rest of their life In 1972, the Chicago Police Department arrested seven members of the service and charged them with 11 counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion.
One of the Jains Judith are Kana remembers that day they took me.
Um out to the parking lot where they cuffed me.
And then they took me into this van.
You know, an ordinary police fan metal cold.
I was nervous.
I was physically uncomfortable, literally shuttering from the cold.
Kana was the first of the Jains to be let out on bail because she had recently had a child and was still nursing.
What do you remember about going home to your baby after that?
I went and stood Oh, maybe I have to cry, went and stood next to his crib, and, uh, he woke up and so I picked him up and nursed him.
And while I was nursing him, I could feel The Tension, which I had not even been conscious of.
Just streaming out of my body, mostly down my arms and legs.
A few months after their arrest, the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.
The charges against the jeans were dropped nearly 50 years on the Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe has left many activists who lived in America before the landmark case devastated women's lives will be Will be thwarted.
They'll be lessened.
They'll be diminished because their freedoms are diminished.
It means if you're If you're raped if you're a victim of incest.
In many states.
You won't have an option.
To have another.
Direction in your life.
I think it's gonna be worth for worse for a lot of women.
It's going to be worth for, um women who live on Lord incomes.
Nevertheless, Avery believes, like in the days before Roe, women will find a way around restrictions.
This might seem like a step backward, but I think it's gonna have a different kind of fact.
It's an unjust law.
In these young women are not going to take a backseat to anybody.
They're going to do it.
I have faith in him.
They will Because there are labs depend on it.
Back in New York.
Gratz says getting her own illegal abortion motivated her to report on other women's abortion stories.
And just months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, she wrote a groundbreaking piece in Ms magazine.
Illustrated with a gruesome photo of a woman who died years earlier from a botched illegal abortion.
The headline was never again.
It was entitled Never again because, ironically, we thought never again Would women have to go through what Jerry sent Oro did who was pictured in the photograph that accompanied the article?
Dead on a more on a motel room floor.
We've thought never again.
Whoever thought That the whole thing could be turned around.
But with the Supreme Court's decision, women now again contend with the world without road.
I'm Omni Nevada's What's clear is that we are going to be dissecting this decision by the Supreme Court for months and years to come.
Thank you for spending part of your evening with us on this important day Tune in Saturday and Sunday to PBS news weekend and online at PBs dot org slash news hour for the latest updates on the reaction and the impact of this historic decision.
For those stations staying with US for Washington Week, Michelle Cinder is coming up next to discuss the political consequences of the ruling with her panel for those stations going to other programming, I'll sign off.
To all of you.
Thank you for watching.
I'm Judy Woodruff have a good night.
Washington week starts in a few moments.
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