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Protesters Gather Outside Supreme Court As Justices Consider Abortion Case


As we mentioned earlier, people on both sides of the issue rallied outside of the court. That's where NPR's Jennifer Ludden was posted.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If you love an abortion provider, make some noise.


JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Abortion rights supporters vastly outnumbered abortion opponents. They packed the steps of the Supreme Court, spreading in a dense crowd to the edge of the sidewalk, where police struggled to keep people off the street. Mary Beth Hastings took time off work to be here. She said the stakes seem even higher with the death of Antonin Scalia and the need to pick a new justice.

MARY BETH HASTINGS: I think it's tremendously important for people to think about this in terms of the election, in terms about - of Supreme Court justices. This is not something we can take for granted.

LUDDEN: Valerie Peterson came up from Texas to rally with the National Abortion Federation. Last summer, she was devastated to learn her 16-week fetus had a fatal brain abnormality. She said the Texas law being debated today meant a long wait for an abortion, with a mandated ultrasound and counseling, so she flew to Florida to get the procedure.

VALERIE PETERSON: I think that women that don't have the means that I did will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. And so this is a really cruel and grueling ruling process for women.

LUDDEN: Most of the few abortion opponents gathered in a small circle, pressed in on all sides by the crowd surrounding them. John Nagourney held a photo of a baby that said life counts.

JOHN NAGOURNEY: We're kind of hemmed in, so just trying to do my part to, you know, to try to stand up for, you know, truth.

LUDDEN: Next to him, Annie Piper had driven three hours from Liberty University.

ANNIE PIPER: I think that a lot of abortion clinics don't uphold women's health standards, and so this is a very, very important issue for women.

LUDDEN: Most in the crowd were young, but not all. Sonia Conly is 77. She's long supported abortion rights and remembers before Roe v. Wade.

SONIA CONLY: I did not have a need for an abortion, but I know women who did. And I know women who had to go to Mexico, so I just think that we're going backwards.

LUDDEN: Conly remembers walking by the Supreme Court back in 1976, during an early protest against abortion. She was pregnant then. She says she'd never have guessed she'd be here four decades later, still fighting for abortion rights. Jennifer Ludden, NPR news, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.