Abortion rights advocates have staged protests in several major cities around the United States after the US Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for abortion.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities nationwide on Friday, protesting the highly charged decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Protests were taking place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as in Chicago, Seattle and other cities.
In Seattle, hundreds of people blocked a downtown intersection, while in Los Angeles, others briefly walked onto a freeway.
Most demonstrators carried signs, chanted slogans and listened to speeches.
In Phoenix, police fired tear gas from the windows of the Arizona Capitol building to disperse hundreds of people demonstrating outside on Friday night, as lawmakers briefly huddled in a basement. It wasn’t immediately known if there were injuries or arrests.
Biden criticises the decision
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents.
It was made possible by an emboldened right side of the court that has been fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.
Joe Biden, the incumbent president, vowed to fight for abortion rights and criticised the decision, saying “This is an extreme and dangerous path the court is now taking us on.”
The head of the World Health Organization also criticised the decision, saying he was “concerned and disappointed” about the decision.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter that the ruling was “both reducing women’s rights and access to health care.”
Seven states have already banned abortion
The court's overturning of America's constitutional right to abortion gives all 50 states the freedom to ban the procedure, with nearly half expected to do so in some form.
Many states in the US have already taken steps to curtail abortion, triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
As of Friday evening, at least seven states had banned abortion -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Altogether about two dozen states are expected to severely restrict or outright ban and criminalise abortions.