The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, established in 1973, no longer exists. Instead, it is now a right decided by states.
While the ruling is set to open the door to immediate bans in some states, abortion remains legal and protected under Massachusetts law.
The New Bedford Light asked readers and others for their reactions to the decision. Following are some of the responses we received:
“As a woman, mother, grandmother, feminist, lawyer, retired judge and human being, I am in deep mourning today. I was driving home with my 17-year-old California granddaughter from a college visit when I heard the Supreme Court decision on Roe had been issued. It brought me to tears. This day and this week have been tragic for America with the decimation of Roe being the culmination. This Supreme Court has just begun its work, from finding the restrictive New York gun law unconstitutional, to deciding it is unconstitutional to not provide public funding to religious schools, to today’s decision. Decades of work destroyed by an arrogant, racist and homophobic misogynist, who happens to be on the Supreme Court, and his posse. I am heartbroken and ashamed. But I am also angry and ready to fight back. We all must dig into our pockets to support those organizations supporting women. In our community, that is easily the Women’s Fund SouthCoast and the YWCA. (N.B. Less than 1% of all philanthropic dollars is spent or given to women-focused projects and causes.) We must see today as a referendum for the upcoming elections. We must insist that every national, state and local candidate we work for pledges to codify Roe, equality for women and the right to privacy. Negating the right to privacy extends far beyond a woman’s right to choose. The right to marry, for example, is not in our constitution. Certainly, the right to marry outside one’s race or religion or within the same sex is not protected. The right to contraception or any number of medical decisions is not specifically written into the constitution. Therefore, we are all in this together and must form coalitions to resist this pernicious, ugly hatred that fueled today’s Supreme Court decision. We must all roll up our sleeves to work for and financially support candidates who will fight for equal rights and the right to privacy. At the same time, we must demand results. We must be vigilant.”
— Bettina Borders
“Clearly the Republicans have had enormous electoral success in pushing issues, with slogans that enrage and energize their voters and contributors. It was all about what they believed was either actually or potentially taken from them. The rallying calls were ‘you will not replace us,’ ‘stop the steal’ and ‘don’t take our guns.’ Now the Democrats have their main energizing and enraging issue: the right to choose whether to end a pregnancy. The right to vote, truly enshrined and clearly being eroded, hasn’t brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets, nor moved the dial in so many recent primaries. But the reversal of Roe v Wade has awakened and enraged people all across the political spectrum. The very real possibility that other rights, decided upon the same constitutional foundation, are unquestionably in jeopardy provides the Democrats, allied with the fearful and grieving citizens of all party affiliations, to mobilize for the forthcoming primaries in November. All the Democrats need do is frame this actual, and other grievances, into a winning slogan and the pendulum can swing back to restore and save these hard-won rights.”
— Betty Ussach, Dartmouth
“The Supreme Court got it wrong! My body is my business. But I will add, money talks … hurt them (those states making it illegal) in the pocket. If the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MBL said they would not play in a state that made abortion illegal, this wouldn’t be a topic for discussion. I read today that Citibank, Starbucks, Amazon, Yelp and JP Morgan all have stated they will reimburse workers to travel for abortions. Use your voice! Demand a change!”
— Mandi B. Costa, New Bedford
“This horrid act was not a conservative victory. Rather, it was a towering triumph for the Roman Catholic church, which had been pushing this forever. All six of those who voted to kill were Catholics. Normally, no one gives a tinker’s damn what religion the justices are, but not in this case. We know from space shot Clarence Thomas that other fights near and dear to the Vatican heart against gay marriage and birth control are squarely on this court’s agenda too. The people who killed the right to choose are not conservatives; they’re extremists who have reduced the supreme court to another gamy Washington political player. And there’s a special place in hell for Chief Justice Roberts, who complained about this putsch but voted with the bastards anyway. There is no joy in Mudville today.
— Sam Allis
“I am outraged and so sad to see what our once magnificent country is becoming.”
— Chris Parks
“Further erosion of respect and confidence in the Supreme Court, who are writing their own epitaph. The court has been intentionally and patiently stacked by originalists; Originalism, by definition, is obsolete. How can the highest court in the land be adhered to when it’s clear political agenda — that directly undermines their dual missions of neutrality and division of Church and State — veers toward authoritarian and specifically Christian (and thus biased) credos.”
— Charlotte Hamlin
— Gloria Clark
“When I first heard that Roe v Wade was overturned, I couldn’t believe it at first. I couldn’t process it, understand the scope of it. It’s unimaginable, I thought, that the lives of countless women and transgender people across America are now in danger, because the laws of “God’s land” are deciphered by a frat boy sexual assaulter and the husband of a partisan promoter of domestic terrorism. My grandmother was born 20 years into the era of a women’s right to vote, saw the passing of Roe v Wade, and has now seen it overturned. With the 50th anniversary of Title IX just days before, feminist history in America was looking up. Now it feels like we’ve plummeted back down, hovering close to rock bottom for many women across the country. Imagine being brutally raped and having to carry that trauma for the rest of your life. Not just with yourself, but with this child you are now forced to carry for nine months, birth in one of the most painful acts a human can face and raise them for 18 years. Adoption is a possibility, but that doesn’t solve the trauma and the medical issues that come with carrying a child to term. But let’s say this child isn’t put up for adoption. Most likely, they are coming into a world of harsh poverty where their mother cannot support them. They may live in a small apartment where the rent is unaffordable, or on the streets. They are forced into the lower classes of the economic system, widening the ever-increasing gap between the 1 and 99%. There is no universal healthcare. There is no universal childcare. Their mother does not get paid family/medical leave. There are more rights for guns in America now. A child is protected in the womb, but once they’re out, their safety is gone, because now they could get shot at any point in time by any person. This is not the type of environment in which we want to raise the heirs of our country. It’s claimed to be a beautiful free land of opportunity, and perhaps it is for some, but it is not for many, many people. Biased politicians are jeopardizing the lives of millions of people because of extremist views, religious beliefs, and the rhetoric companies shove into their wallets along with blood money donations. Similar to most issues in America, it all comes back to capitalism. Unregulated capitalism is an enemy of human rights. The overturning of Roe v Wade is an attack against human rights. We elect Democrats to protect our freedoms and then Republicans still get their way. This has been their mission for years. They have succeeded in a major step. Depending on the response of the people and the legislature, we will either step further back into the past, back into horrendous economic conditions, back into the legal repression of people, or forward into the beautiful free land of opportunity we deserve.
— Annica Dupre
“I am angry and saddened at this. Looking for precedent in the original wording of the Constitution makes no sense for women, for black people, for gun control. ‘She’ is not mentioned once in the Constitution. And this Court wants to make sure that ‘she’ has NO rights now.
— Margo Grant
“The Supreme Court decision today turns the clock back on women’s human rights in the U.S. Instead of protecting rights, the Supreme Court has taken rights away in an archaic ruling that sets our country back decades. I am disgusted and outraged at the audacity the Court has had to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. Low-income women and girls will be hurt the most, struggling to find funds to travel to a woman-friendly state that stands by women’s human rights. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research studied the economic effect of abortion access on low-income women, especially women of color, and found it was very beneficial. They documented that abortion access lowers teen fertility and increases female labor force participation. In the 1970s, abortion legalization increased high school graduation and college attendance rates for Black women. With abortion access being restricted so massively, those positive results will likely be reversed, throwing a stumbling block in front of women trying to improve their financial circumstances. My heart goes out to women and girls facing unwanted pregnancies. Today is a dark day for women in the U.S.! The Supreme Court has covered itself with shame.”
— The Rev. Susan H. Lee
“A stacked SCOTUS has made half the population unable to determine their own health care without government overview. Planned by three appointed justices that lied about their views/commitment to standing laws. The corruption unleashed by the former administration will take years to reset, if possible. And how many will suffer in the interim? Real people in 2022 when women are again the target of cruelty. Never thought I would see this sad day.”
— Sheila Oliveira
“I think that intellectually, the leak prepared me for what was to come, but there’s an emotional and quite frankly, a visceral response that I’m experiencing today that I’m not sure I expected … [This decision] imposes financial and emotional hardship on those that will be forced to remain pregnant or will need to seek care out of state or even outside the healthcare system.”
— Margaret Batten, board member of the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund
“I feel like we’re already very limited in resources when it comes to child raising, and this is a really huge step back for some of the women that feel like their hands are tied and they can’t move forward in that decision. So pretty much, our government said, ‘We don’t care, we’re not gonna help you, good luck fighting this on your own.’”
— Marisol Rosa, 30, New Bedford resident who works for a nonprofit and teaches yoga
“Today’s ruling reverses 50 years of legal precedent. It eliminates a fundamental right of American women and will undermine the institution of the Supreme Court. I will continue to support a woman’s right to choose, and the codification of that right in federal law. #dobbs”
— Mayor Jon Mitchell in a tweet.
“The revolution begins now. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime. I’m not worried about Massachusetts as I am about other states where low income and other marginalized women will not have access to safe and legal abortion. I have been working on this cause for years but did not expect this so soon.”
— Betsy Lawrence, South Dartmouth
“As a retired social worker and woman this hurts my heart. Let women/teens choose what they do with their bodies with the support of their families for God’s sake! How can they be forced to bear a child after the trauma of rape or incest! If men could get pregnant this would never have happened! How dare anyone make such a difficult decision for others under the name of God! Another reason for me to abhor Trump and McConnell and the lasting damage they have done. A sad day today.
— Sara King
“In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court has overturned decades old gun laws, decades old abortion laws, and decades old limits on government funding for religious schools. None of those opinions enjoy majority support nationwide. Our country has been hijacked by a majority of right-wing judges who were appointed by presidents who didn’t win the popular vote. Each week brings a new example of tyranny of the minority.”
— Mark Garvin, South Dartmouth
“Besides the fact the last three SCOTUS appointees were allowed to sashay around Roe questions during their nomination hearings by using the dismissive but surely scripted phrase “settled law” — when their intentions clearly held the opposite sentiment; besides the unquestionable heartbreak, trauma and, no doubt, death, this decision will bring to women of little financial means or privilege; besides the cavalier manner in which this Supreme Court has gone about rolling back rights that millions have considered theirs for decades … Somehow, wearing my RBG Dissent Collar earrings just isn’t assuaging my fury.
— Rachel Thomas, Fairhaven
“I was angry but I wasn’t surprised because Roe v. Wade has been in the Supreme Court for 50 years, Democrats did nothing to codify it into law and we have nine people who have this much control over the country with a conservative majority, so this is what they’ve been trying to do.”
— Grace Holleran, 29, a New Bedford resident and graduate student at UMass Dartmouth.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v Wade, it is especially important to ensure that Massachusetts providers can continue to provide reproductive health care services without concern that the laws of other states may be used to interfere with those services or sanction them for providing services that are lawful in the Commonwealth.”
— Gov. Charlie Baker, statement issued as he signed an executive order stating that Massachusetts will not cooperate with extradition requests from other states pursuing criminal charges related to performing abortions that are legal here.
“The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade will have lasting effects. Many states will implement immediate abortion restrictions. Those seeking abortions will face a number of undue burdens such as age restrictions, waiting periods, lack of accessible providers, ongoing stigma, harassment at clinics, and more. This ruling will disproportionately affect people of color, LGBTQ persons, young people, immigrants, undocumented people, low-income people, and others who have difficulty accessing reproductive health services. Everyone deserves the right to make decisions about their own bodies. We must do more! We are actively determining the appropriate response to this development, and closely monitoring planned national responses as well as we construct our response. Actions will be posted on all our websites, social media, and public forums. Please join us Wednesday, June 29, at noon for a rally at the federal building on South Sixth Street, New Bedford. This decision must be a call to action for all of us.”
— Women’s Alliance of Southeastern MA
“My teenaged niece called me today and asked me how this happened, how it could be possible. She had not been keeping up with the dialogue that has gone on since the leak of the draft opinion and had not been truly aware of the decades-long battle anti-choicers have waged to remove this fundamental right. Her reaction was frustrating on the one hand (how could she not know? how could she not be aware?) but also reviving on the other. I’ve been thinking all day about her outrage. I have been thinking about the time in my life when I was not aware of the kind of country we live in, when I was comfortably ensconced in my privilege and ignorant of the vendetta the United States has always had against people who are not white, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied men. And I have thought about how I felt when I first started to understand that legal injustice and state violence are core to this country’s history and its identity. This development is not new, different, or a detour from a steady line of progress towards a more perfect union. It’s profoundly American. My niece’s outrage reminded me, especially as someone who lives in a state where abortion is unlikely to be outlawed, that I have to remain outraged. We all do. And we have to follow through on that outrage with organized action. And everyone has to join this fight. People who hold privilege, especially those who can’t get pregnant or give birth themselves, better show up.”
— Tatiana Oberkoetter
“I am extremely discouraged, saddened, shocked, and angry that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade. This was our landmark case for women’s rights in the ’70s. I took this for granted all these years. I thought that we would continue to move forward with a woman’s right to choose what she did with her own body. How could we have imagined that religious and political conservatism would be powerful enough in 2022 to rescind this right? That the white male would still have so much power in this country? That no one would foresee the consequences of this decision today? This will set women back a hundred years. We must now again stand up to fight for these rights. We did it once before; we will have to do it all over again.”
— Margaret Nash
“It is a very sad day in America, as the Supreme Court has finally abandoned all pretext of being anything but an ideological machine. It has lost all its legitimacy as an independent branch of government. The justices all perjured themselves during their confirmation hearings by stating, under oath, that they upheld precedents like Roe v Wade. One justice’s own wife worked actively to promote insurrection and he, Clarence Thomas, did not recuse himself from important decisions. Women have lost nearly all rights: control over their own bodies, their health, their privacy and safety. This is on top of the other scandalous rulings of the court. Guns are more important than women’s health, children’s lives are less important than those of their supposed protectors. We must all act together to bring the clock forward again from the fifty years our society has just been thrown back.”
— Glenn Williams
“Like many women, I expected this day would come. However, that does not change the overwhelming sense of despair I feel upon learning that we have been stripped of our constitutional right to an abortion. Not that it had been modified, or challenged, but done away with altogether – just like that. These justices (and the interests they represent) are not concerned with the sanctity of life or protecting “babies” despite their rhetorical acrobatics. If that were the case, they’d be championing healthcare for all, social service programs that support children and mothers, and gun regulation. This move, like so many calculated moves before it, is an ugly reminder of the hegemonic, patriarchal order that characterizes this country. It’s a move to control a woman’s ability to make informed decisions about her own health, and a vicious overreach of government. It’s an ugly day in America, and I fear for every single person with a uterus.”
— Megan Fletcher, Ph.D., Department of English and Communication at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Department of English, Department of Media Studies at Johnson and Wales University
“This decision shows that not only is our Supreme Court in the grip of religious zealots — our bedrock institutions are broken, unresponsive to the will of the people, and in need of fundamental reform. Poll after poll show the vast majority of Americans support abortion access in most or all circumstances. But of the six justices who voted to strike down Roe, five were appointed by Republicans who achieved the presidency despite receiving a minority of votes, thanks to the minoritarian Electoral College. And abortion rights are blocked in the U.S. Senate by a filibuster that allows 41 senators to defeat 59. We must revitalize our democracy by expanding and terming the Supreme Court, abolishing the Electoral College and filibuster, and codifying abortion access for all into U.S. law.”
— Miles Grant
“Although we are protected currently, this area is still considered an abortion desert. We don’t have access. You have to go to Providence, you have to go to Boston. So low-income people are still very much at risk here. But today’s decision I think is more of a nationwide effort , and then we can start thinking about what we will do here in Massachusetts. Hopefully we can become a safe haven for people. We can raise funds to have people come here, so we can fund their aboritons, fund their travel, fund their recovery. We have a lot of work to do.”
— Makenzie Lennington, 33, assistant director of operations for the Women’s Fund Southcoast.
“This country is ‘rowing’ backwards.”
Dedee Shattuck, Dartmouth
“Make no mistake — this decision is not just an attack on abortion rights by an extremist Supreme Court majority — it is an attack on the autonomy of half of the population of the United States, an attack on their inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a man, I will never know what it’s like to be denied a procedure by my doctor because the government said so — but now the Supreme Court has decided that not only can women be denied a procedure, they can be forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth. Somewhere in America today is a woman who will die because an extremist Supreme Court majority took away her right to safe, legal abortion. She may not have the funds to travel out of state, or maybe her employer will fire her if she takes time off to travel. She will turn to providers operating in the shadows outside of a medical setting, something will go wrong, and she will die. I will never forget the stories of tragic deaths I heard from pro-choice advocates who worked in hospitals before Roe. We cannot go back to those dark days. Abortion care should be accessible to all, not just those who live in the right part of the country or have the financial resources to travel. I have never wavered in my position on choice, and I pledge to fight like hell to right this wrong.”
— U.S. Rep. Bill Keating
“This is a dark day for democracy. A woman’s right to choose and have agency over her own reproductive health has been taken. I am sad for all of us but especially for all the women who do not have the resources to obtain an abortion if need be. As a country we have upended democracy once again. So very sad.”
— Naomi Rappaport
“Leave me alone. Don’t tell me to wear a mask (to protect others). But I can tell you what you can and can’t do with your reproductive system. The hypocrisy disgusts me.”
— Robert Almy, Dartmouth
“Sorry for the swearing, but I am so %@#$%&!, @#$%&!, @#$%&! Mad. @#$%&!, @#$%&! mad. I knew the overturning of Roe was coming. But that does not take away from how utterly and completely outrageous it is, nor how deeply painful. And the decision was made by 6 people, 5 men and one woman. Two of the men have been credibly accused of sexual violations against women; two of the men and the lone woman lied at their Senate confirmation hearings when they said Roe was settled law. One day the SC is telling states it can’t limit men’s “right’ to carry guns; the next day it tells states they can control women’s ‘right’ to make decisions about their own bodies. Tell me why I shouldn’t be mad as hell? I am mad at Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, the other Rethuglicans who manipulated the SC, and the dark money behind controlling the Congress and the SC. How can I, an almost 70-year-old woman, be leaving the next generations a world that has returned to the Dark Ages? Show me proof this is what the majority of Americans want for this country. All that being said, Shaye Moss and Lady Ruby have inspired me to become an election worker in order to bear witness to the election process to try to help in a small way to protect our now very fragile democracy.”
— Whitney Ray-Dawson
“As the decision we knew was coming finally landed, the 6 Supreme Court justices, 3 that were deceptive (lied) during their Congressional hearings, have opened up a can of conservative worms. If the GOP gets the majority in the midterms, the United States of America will be set back 50 years.”
— David Walker, North Dartmouth
“And if Clarence Thomas has his way, the right to contraception and the right to marry whom you love are next. (Note: he didn’t mention bi-racial marriage—that’s HIS choice after all). Do everything you can to get out the vote nationwide. The majority of Americans approve of the right to abortion.”
— Jo Walters, Fairhaven
“Clarence Thomas writes, in a concurring opinion, that the Supreme Court should reconsider Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — the rulings that now protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court has been seized by right-wing religious fanatics. The nation should be alarmed. Our equivalent of the Taliban and Sharia law.”
— Tom McNaught
— Luise Erdmann, Cambridge
“Me think: 1. “Judicial activism” can accurately be applied to our highest court. 2. The right to bear arms is a higher priority than a woman’s right to choose. 3. “Established case law” is now null and void. The ramifications of this decision will be felt for decades, and further fragmentation of American society will accelerate according to political philosophies. Democracy, as we know it, is dying a slow death.
— John Roy
Add your voice to the conversation. Send comments in an email to Voices@NewBedfordLight.org. And please include your full name, town of residence and phone number so we can confirm submissions.
Editor’s note: In addition to comments from readers, responses include prepared statements sent to The Light by lawmakers and women’s rights advocates, as well as comments received in interviews by New Bedford Light staff.