Crowds gather at the Supreme Court after news of leaked draft Roe opinion

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A previous version of this article misspelled contestant Lauren Guzowski’s name as Guzoswki. The article has been corrected.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday night following news of a leaked opinion, first reported by Politico, indicating that a majority of the court is ready to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Many expressed shock and dismay. A few lit candles.

As the night wore on, the scene grew tense, with a dozen anti-abortion protesters chanting, “Pro-choice is a lie. Babies never choose to die,” and a larger group of abortion rights supporters shouting, “When abortion rights are attacked, what do we do? Get up, fight!” and “Abortion is health care!”

Just after 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, some of the protesters got into a brief scuffle and a number of masked protesters tried to force anti-abortion protesters away from the front of the court building. Neither group moved, but the shouting and shouting continued. An anti-abortion supporter had his sign taken away. Some organizers wearing yellow vests tried to maintain order. Visible police presence remained minimal.

Erin Swauger, 25, came with her brother Ben and their parents, Laura and Mark.

“I feel helpless and kind of blindsided by this,” she said. “I’m just horrified.”

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court on May 2 following the announcement of a leaked draft opinion indicating that a majority of the court is ready to strike down the right to abortion . (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Ashley Fox, 31, was watching the Met Gala when she heard the news. “I felt like an idiot and needed to come here,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.” A few minutes later, people nearby began chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho. Sam Alito must go!

Full-throated groups of anti-abortion activists clashed at times with the larger crowd, chanting, chanting and waving their own signs.

Jonathan Darnel, an anti-abortion activist charged with obstructing access to a DC health care clinic, watched the crowd from a distance, leaning against a chest-high sign bearing an image titled ‘abortion by pill’ .

Darnel said the turbulent moment in society did not spell the end of abortion.

“I don’t want to be too positive too soon,” he said, as passers-by scoffed and stuck a sticker on his sign. ‘Pro-abortion states are likely to be even more aggressive’ in defense of proceedings if court overturns deerhe said.

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For Libby Kernahan, 25, the question was personal. A relative recently had the procedure for health reasons, she said.

“I’m gay and I probably won’t ever need to access it,” she said, “but I’m here to support people who will.” Kernahan held a sign that read, “We won’t be going back.

“Sometimes I feel very cynical about being a person, a voice, a voter,” she said. “I know there is power in our collective voices.”

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Lauren Guzowski, 20, grabbed tealights and headed to the courthouse to sit down in a silent protest minutes after news of the draft notice surfaced.

“I was angry, and then I was hit with this overwhelming wave of sadness, and I didn’t know where to go,” she said.

Guzowski, a student at George Washington University, kept her eyes forward as members of the crowd sometimes shouted back and forth. “There was a woman here who was screaming that she wants us to be loud right now,” she said, “but I think it’s also powerful to be quiet.”

Shelby Davis-Cooper, 29, a fourth-year medical student at Georgetown, suspended her studies for her board exams to join the growing crowd in her light blue scrubs just after 10:30 p.m. Davis-Cooper, who is pursuing an OB/GYN residency, said growing up with a single mother raising two children on a waitress’ salary shaped her beliefs about access to reproductive care.

“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of human rights, and human rights shouldn’t be debated state by state,” she said.

By 11 p.m., about 500 protesters and spectators stood outside the Supreme Court building. The police closed the first street between Constitution and Independence Avenues.


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