Roe v. Wade ruling sparks demonstration outside Duval County Courthouse

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Americans are reacting with anger, joy, fear and confusion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The chasm over the issue is on full display: Abortion rights supporters are condemning the decision as cruel and calling it a dark day in history. Abortion foes say it will save countless lives.

In its ruling, the high court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion that has stood for a half-century, instead leaving the issue up to the states. Roughly half are likely to ban the procedure.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a rally outside the Duval County Courthouse. The demonstration later moved through the streets of downtown.

One woman, who asked not to be identified, does not support the ruling.

“Absolute sadness,” she described of her emotions. “I actually had an abortion last September, and I’m glad the option was there.”

Many say they are concerned about the ripple effect of this decision.

“I’m feeling fear, because I’m thinking about what we’ve seen happen, like in Pensacola,” said Sam Coodley.

He was referring to a protest in 1994 where an abortion doctor and his escort were killed.

Carmen Erickson and Jennan Norenbarg both support abortion rights.

“I immediately burst into tears,” Erickson said after learning of the ruling. “I was really frustrated and angry.”

“It feels like we are going backwards in this country,” Norenbarg said.

Others supported the decision to strike down Roe V. Wade.

Bernadette Williams is anti-abortion and was faced with a life-threatening birth. She decided to keep her child.

“The doctors told my mom and my dad and my parents, said the insurance company will give you an abortion because it is threatening your life,” Williams said. “All that I know is that I couldn’t take a child’s life even if it meant my life. So I made a decision to bear my child.”

The abortion issue is expected to galvanize voters on both sides in the fall elections. In Alabama, the state’s three abortion clinics stopped performing the procedure for fear providers would now be prosecuted under a law dating to 1951.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.