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Saint Louis (AFP) – Standing outside what had been the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri on Friday, Pamela Lukehart fought back tears as she recalled how things were before the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling enshrining a woman’s right to the procedure.
“Women were dying getting abortions back then,” the 68-year-old told AFP, her voice cracking as she stood alongside dozens of other protesters.
“We were trying to protect women’s rights, women’s lives, and now they’ve taken all of that away from us.”
The conservative-dominated Supreme Court on Friday reversed its monumental decision in Roe v. Wade, ending the federal abortion rights she established nearly 50 years ago.
The seismic ruling immediately sparked a wave of right-wing states to impose new bans on the procedure — Missouri being the first.
Less than two hours after the court’s decision, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted a photo of him signing the ban, calling the occasion a “monumental day for the sanctity of life.”
The swift ban forced the Planned Parenthood Clinic on St. Louis’ Forest Park Avenue — which had been the last facility to offer abortions in the state — to immediately stop offering the procedure.
“Today for me is tragic because we fought so hard to get this law passed in 1973,” said Lukehart, who was accompanied by her granddaughter Audrey at the protest outside the Planned Clinic. Parenthood.
“Now, 50 years later, they’ve taken that away from us. It’s wrong. It’s totally wrong,” she said.
“We cannot sit idly by”
While conservative Midwestern Missouri was the first state to ban abortions after the ruling, it wasn’t the last.
As of Friday evening, at least six other states had imposed bans: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Indiana also announced it would take steps to do the same, and abortion providers in Wisconsin said the procedure was now banned there as well.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of St. Louis after the ban, chanting “My body, my choice” and carrying signs bearing slogans like “Abortion is health.”
Addressing the crowd through a megaphone, one speaker said: “We cannot sit idly by while our rights are taken away from us.”
Back at the Planned Parenthood clinic, protester Alec Ryan, 31, said the new abortion bans would have tangible consequences.
“So there will be women and pregnant women who will be trapped in abusive marriages because they can’t have abortions. There will be people who will be put in situations that they shouldn’t be put in” , he told AFP. .
“It’s going to be a tragedy.”
Linda Locke, who sits on the board of Planned Parenthood in St Louis, expressed concern about the impact of Friday’s decision on younger generations.
“I have granddaughters, don’t I? ” she says. “And they all grew up thinking their bodies were in their control. And today it’s just shocking to me and disappointing that the Supreme Court just told them, ‘No, you don’t… We don’t don’t trust to make decisions about your own body.'”
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