Minutes after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, news of emergency protests spread like wildfire. By Friday evening, several gatherings in opposition to the decision took place throughout metro Atlanta.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision ends the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years. The decision was the result of decades of efforts by anti-abortion activists, and a right side of the court strengthened by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the court wrote in the majority opinion. Casey was the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right.

Georgians are now bracing for the implementation of the state’s 2019 law that limits access to the procedure.

A gathering of about 100 people in front of the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park kicked off the evening of protests. The march was organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and the Women’s March.

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Leah Davis and Will Carnright.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Leah Davis and Will Carnright.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Leah Davis and Will Carnright.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Leah Davis, 29, and Will Carnright, 31, of DeKalb County, were both in shock when the decision came out Friday morning. The two had been in denial, they said, thinking there was no way the right could be overturned.

“I mean, what if I try and have a kid and then I can’t have it safely and I need to have an abortion, but I can’t, so I die. You can’t say it any differently. There’s not a more beautiful way to say that. My life could be in danger if I have a complication during childbirth and I’m not allowed life-saving procedures,” Davis said while holding a sign stating “My Body My Choice.”

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Jenny Russ and Madeline Lutwyche.

Credit: Caroline Silva

 Jenny Russ and Madeline Lutwyche.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Combined ShapeCaption
Jenny Russ and Madeline Lutwyche.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Emory University graduates, 24-year-old Madeline Lutwyche of DeKalb and 24-year-old Jenny Russ of Florida, both found out after receiving text messages from their partners. They said the news took a second to sink in.

“I think this is another really big straw on the camel’s back. What’s going on with gun legislation, women’s rights? I used to joke and now I’m a little bit serious of human rights in this country and I don’t know if I really want to live in a country where reproductive rights aren’t taken seriously. Where black lives don’t matter to people. Where gay rights could be rolled back,” Lutwyche said, holding a sign stating “‘Pro-life’ is a white supremacist invention.”

ExploreEyes on appeals court as Georgians wait to see local impact of abortion ruling

In Duluth, another protest organized by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights the Women’s March formed in front of the Municipal Court. Cars driving along Buford Highway honked as the protesters chanted and waved signs.

Kelly Pagano, 26, of Fulton County, was surprised at her own reaction, saying that she knew what to expect from the leak of a draft of the ruling.

“I did break down crying, and I was on a work call,” Pagano said. “I think the hardest part to me is that most of the people that are pro-life and are celebrating this decision don’t really realize the way it’ll impact people who are of a lower socioeconomic status and people of color.”

Emily Shinn, a 44-year-old mother living in Fulton, attended the protest with her two children. She said she wants them to learn how to “react productively to something you disagree with.”

“I think that this decision is going to have massive impacts on (my 12-year-old daughter’s) life. And the probability of it being turned the other way in her lifetime is probably pretty small at this point, or it’ll be late in her life past her reproductive years,” Shinn said.

The crowd became larger as the evening went on, eventually marching to the state Capitol by 6:15 p.m. A protest organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America flooded the streets in front of the Capitol building by 6:30 p.m.

When Lindsey Gibson found out from her husband that Roe v. Wade had been overturned they took a minute to process the news and then began searching for protests. The 23-year-old from Butts County drove for more than an hour to make sure her voice was heard.

“There are certain situations where the baby could have serious issues in the womb that they could be full-term and then only live for like 10 days. Wouldn’t you rather go ahead and have the abortion now knowing that that child will never suffer versus carrying it full term and then everyone suffers? It’s really disheartening and really frustrating truly because this all could have been prevented with Congress passing it and ratifying it,” Gibson said.

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Gathegu Gatungo said she created a casket for the protest in remembrance of the many women who died during childbirth and unsafe abortions.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Gathegu Gatungo said she created a casket for the protest in remembrance of the many women who died during childbirth and unsafe abortions.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Gathegu Gatungo said she created a casket for the protest in remembrance of the many women who died during childbirth and unsafe abortions.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

After Gathegu Gatungo had an abortion at 17 years old, she said she knew she had to stand up for women’s rights. The now 48-year-old Fulton resident said she always understood how fragile the right to abortion was and how lucky she was to have access.

“They’re not just coming after our reproductive women, our reproductive rights — they’re coming after the LGBTQ community, they’re coming after our parents of trans kids, they’re coming after anybody and everybody who does not align with their whole fundamentalist Christian agenda, and the vision that they have in store for this country and this world,” Gatungo said. “This is not about life, because if they actually cared about life then they wouldn’t allow people to possess weapons that kill children.”

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Lee Strum and Chrisy Erickson Strum.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Lee Strum and Chrisy Erickson Strum.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Lee Strum and Chrisy Erickson Strum.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Chrisy Erickson Strum, 53, of DeKalb, found out about the decision while listening to NPR as she got ready for her day. She argues that politicians should not have a say on abortion rights — that women should not have to provide a reason to get an abortion. She said she fears that women will start dying due to unsafe abortions and limited access.

“I’m just disgusted. I mean, this is imprisonment. Once you take this right away, nobody’s safe,” Chrisy Strum said.

Her husband, 57-year-old Lee Strum, was frustrated that abortion has turned into a political matter, arguing that the decision is personal and private. He said he is also disappointed that women are forced to bear children and may not have the resources to do so.

“I feel like we’ve been set back 50 years as far as personal freedoms and we’re supposed to be the most advanced, most free country on the planet. And this is what’s happening in the year 2022. Guns have more rights than uteri and it’s crazy. Why does someone, an elected official, that doesn’t have a uterus have the ability to have a vote in such an issue,” Lee Strum said.

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Althea Artis.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Althea Artis.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Althea Artis.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Althea Artis, 61, of Fulton, was completely stunned when the breaking news alert went across her TV screen.

“Everybody should have the right to do really what they want with their body,” Artis said. “It’s going to impact really all women and all women’s lives, because as a woman, economically, when you have a child, you are responsible for that child, no matter where you are in your life. ... You should be able to decide whether you want to have a child or not.”

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Nadia Giordani and Gabby Giordani

Credit: Caroline Silva

Nadia Giordani and Gabby Giordani

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Nadia Giordani and Gabby Giordani

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Nadia Giordani, 60, of Fulton, said she had tears in her eyes as she worked through the day. She and her daughter, 21-year-old Gabby Giordani, both agree that women don’t have to oppose or advocate for abortion, but simply allow women to make that choice on their own.

“There was more of a rage that somebody felt like they should control my body and tell me what I can do. My position is that we don’t have to be pro-abortion, we just have to allow women to make that decision on their own,” Nadia Giordani said. “You don’t know someone’s situation and you can’t judge and make decisions for them based on your life and your opportunities. I found it was very disrespectful, and I found it was very racist, and I found it very sexist and just controlling.”

— Staff writer Mary Helene Hall contributed to this article.