Grief and joy on Supreme Court steps as potential decision to overturn Roe v Wade looms

Dozens of pro-life and pro-choice protesters squared off in the US capital

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A single tear drips down Lily Goldman’s face as she stares up at the US Supreme Court in Washington.

She is still reeling from last night's bombshell leak carried by Politico, which suggested that the nation's highest court would soon overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision legalising abortion.

“It’s just shocking,” says Ms Goldman. “I can’t even believe it.”

Ms Goldman, 26, says the idea that woman across the country may soon lose the right to have an abortion was hard to stomach.

“It’s a kick in the gut and then a punch in the face,” she tells The National.

Across the street, dozens of pro-life demonstrators gather to celebrate the news. Savanna Deretich is one of them.

The Students for Life of America member holds a sign that reads “protection at conception".

“We are out here standing for our constitutional right to life and to tell America that abortion is not constitutional,” she said.

“It's time for Roe to go.”

There is perhaps no more divisive issue in American politics than abortion. The pain, passion and acrimony accompanying the issue was laid bare in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Elizabeth Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts, left her office to speak with pro-choice supporters outside the court building.

“I am angry,” said Ms Warren. "Angry and upset and determined.”

Ms Warren blamed years of Republican leadership for building a court that would overturn the decision.

“Republicans have been working towards this day for decades,” Ms Warren told The National and other media outlets.

“They have been out there plotting, carefully cultivating these Supreme Court justices so they could have a majority on the bench who would accomplish something that the majority of Americans do not want.”

Halfway through her impromptu and impassioned remarks, Ms Warren was interrupted by a man who yelled: “We don’t want to dismember children, ma'am. We are not going to stand for dismembering children.”

The interaction encapsulated the tension surrounding this debate.

“I think that they are so emblematic of totally different worldviews around what American society should look like,” said Jennifer Holland, an assistant professor of US history at Oklahoma University, whose research focuses on the anti-abortion movement in the western US.

Ms Holland said that while the abortion debate did not always fall along party lines, it has come to define the Republican and Democratic parties.

“The parties have become more ideologically monolithic, that these particular views have sort of cemented into the parties in the way that they are now,” Ms Holland told The National.

For those who are pro-choice, Tuesday was a day of sombre reflection and grappling with what the future may hold.

“I don't know what we've done and how far we've lost ourselves that this is where we've come,” said Ms Goldman.

Updated: May 04, 2022, 8:16 AM