US President Joe Biden has warned that “the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk”, as he condemned the Supreme Court’s “extreme” and “dangerous” decision to overturn the right to an abortion.
Mr Biden described the move as “the realisation of an extreme ideology” and a “tragic error”, which was “literally taking America back 150 years” and would see women “punished for protecting their health”.
The president spoke from the White House after the conservative-leaning court scrapped the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalised abortion across the US.
The “cruel” court decision today is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states, but Mr Biden warned: “This is not over” – as he called on people to vote for candidates who are pro-choice in November’s midterm elections.
But he urged demonstrators to “keep all protests peaceful”.
“This landmark case protected a woman’s right to choose, her right to make intensely personal decisions with her doctor, free from the interference of politics,” he said.
“It reaffirmed basic principles of equality, that women have the power to control their own destiny, and it reinforced a fundamental right of privacy – a right of each of us to choose how to live our lives.
“Now, with Roe gone, let’s be very clear: the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk.”
In a moment where he appeared to break from his script during his White House address, Mr Biden looked down and uttered: “It just stuns me.”
Pro-life campaigners outside the court in Washington DC cheered in celebration as the decision was announced allowing individual states to make their own abortion laws, while there were tears and heartache for those who want women to have the right to choose.
Earlier, senior figures from both sides of America’s political divide reacted to the court’s move.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the ruling was “outrageous and heart-wrenching” and fulfils the Republican Party’s “dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions”.
But House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, told reporters that he applauds the court decision.
“A lot of lives are going to be saved,” Mr McCarthy told reporters. “But it also goes back to people in the states to have a say in the process.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said: “This is an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society.” (The decision is) “courageous and correct.”
Former Republican president Donald Trump also praised the Supreme Court’s decision.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, he said the ruling “will work out for everybody”.
“This is following the Constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago,” he added.
When asked whether he feels he played a role in the reversal of Roe v Wade, after having appointed three conservative justices to the top court, he replied: “God made the decision.”
His former vice president Mike Pence hailed a “new beginning for life”.
He wrote on Twitter: “Today, Life Won. By overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court of the United States has given the American people a new beginning for life, and I commend the justices in the majority for having the courage of their convictions.
“Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the centre of American law in every state in the land.”
But former Democrat president Barack Obama said the “essential freedoms” of millions of Americans were being “attacked”.
He wrote: “Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues – attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”
And the head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “I am very disappointed, because women’s rights must be protected. And I would have expected America to protect such rights.”