GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Abortion rights supporters warned of an assault on women’s health and opponents celebrated a protection of unborn children following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday decision to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Pro-abortion rights activists called it a “dark day for our country” meanwhile anti-abortion rights activists said the decision protects human life “from its earliest stages of existence.”

“I am furious that the Supreme Court ignored half a century of settled law,” Planned Parenthood of Michigan President Paula Thornton Greear said. “As much as we’ve been planning for this decision and we saw it coming, it still is like a punch in the gut.”

“My heart is breaking,” Dr. Sarah Wallett, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Michigan said, saying the loss of Roe v. Wade protections will restrict millions of patients’ access to care.

“I know how devastating it is to sit in an exam room and tell a patient I can’t help them because state politicians have restricted their access to care,” she continued in a prepared statement. “This scenario will now be a daily reality for my colleagues and their patients in hostile states across the country.”

She noted, however, that abortions are still being offered in Michigan. While the state has a 1931 ban on nearly all abortions, it is not currently being enforced as it waits in legal limbo.

“We are not going anywhere,” Wallett said. “I’m going to leave this press conference and go continue to provide abortions to patients who need them in Michigan. We will never stop fighting to protect abortion access.”

Planned Parenthood was expecting for an influx of patients from states where abortion is illegal.

“We are going to continue to provide care — abortion care, other reproductive and sexual health care,” Greear said. “We, Planned Parenthood of Michigan, is going to continue to provide care. Period. Point blank.”

Coming out of noon Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Andrew in downtown Grand Rapids, Rapids, churchgoer Barb Bennett told News 8 she was elated by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I just praise God,” she said. “It’s a gift from God that abortion has been overturned.”

Bennett said she remembers the day Roe v. Wade went into effect. She was saddened and surprised by how the vote went back then.

“I do not know what happened back then,” she said. “It just totally went to the abortion side, and it went way over the abortion side, way beyond, and it is time to come back.”

Bennett said she has worked and prayed outside of area abortion clinics for years.

John Buckley, who learned of the ruling just after Mass let out, told News 8’s the Supreme Court’s ruling has hit a bit closer to home for him.

“Forty-plus years ago, my wife and I adopted two children (and) what a blessing they are,” he said. “They have children, who are our grandchildren, and they are all happy to be alive. They did not get aborted.”

Buckley said he adopted his two kids, both of whom were unwanted by their biological parents, through Catholic social services.

“We’ve been working for 49 years to show that life from conception to natural death is valued and we know that today is the day we’ve been waiting for, hoping for and praying for,” Annalise Laumeyer, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, said.

Right to Life of Michigan says the state has more than 150 pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies. These centers are ready and willing to help, said spokesperson Anna Visser.

“They’re ready to serve these women and we just want to make sure that they feel empowered and supported to continue their pregnancies,” Visser said


“The United States Supreme Court’s decision moves America one step closer to protecting human life from its earliest stages of existence. The Catholic Church remains committed to helping women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies. For every pregnant woman who may be unsure of what is next, the Catholic Church is here. We will continue to accompany and care for women in need of emotional, spiritual, or physical support and their child(ren), born and unborn. Support is available through Catholic Churches as well as other local organizations.”

Bishop David Walkowiak, Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, said in a statement

“It is a dark day for our country and we are outraged. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has signaled that it trusts politicians more than us to make our own, deeply personal, medical decisions. But this is far from over. We will not compromise on our bodies, our dignity, or our inherent rights. Michiganders should know that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan will always fight for you, and we will not back down. Together, we will rebuild and reclaim our freedom. Let’s be clear – this ruling goes beyond abortion. This is about who has power to make decisions when it comes to our bodies and who can control our futures.”

Nicole Wells Stallworth, Planned Parenthood Advocated of Michigan Executive Director, said in a statement

“Reproductive care is health care, plain and simple, and access to health care is a fundamental human right. The danger to people’s lives – especially people of color and those with low-incomes – is very real without full safe and legal access to care. MNA agrees with the majority of Michigan residents who believe that people should be able to decide the best course of action for their own health and well-being; health decisions should be made by patients in conjunction with their healthcare provider, not restricted by the government. In supporting reproductive rights and access to reproductive care, MNA is advocating for the health and safety of patients in all circumstances. MNA supports both Gov. Whitmer’s lawsuit before the state Supreme Court and Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative to protect the full range of reproductive health options and keep people safe.”

Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, said in a statement

“We are very excited. We are so happy that the majority of the justices ruled on the right side of history today. We are so thankful that they had the courage and the wisdom to do this, and we just couldn’t thank them enough for their courage.”

Anna Visser, director of communication and education for Right to Life of Michigan, said in an interview

“Let me be clear – abortion is still legal in Michigan, and our doors are open. But my heart is breaking for the millions of patients living in states that will cut off abortion access in the days and weeks to come. As an abortion provider, I know how devastating it is to sit in an exam room and tell a patient I can’t help them because state politicians have restricted their access to care. This scenario will now be a daily reality for my colleagues and their patients in hostile states across the country. Here in Michigan, we’re still providing care and I’m working with our team of expert doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to ensure we can provide care to as many patients as possible. We are not going anywhere.” 

Dr. Sarah Wallett, Planned Parenthood Michigan chief medical officer, said in an interview

“This morning, the United States Supreme Court took away a longstanding constitutional right, rejecting decades of legal precedent, public opinion, and medical expertise. The Court’s decision is clearly based on the personal politics of the Justices, not on sound legal reasoning. Six partisans in robes shouldn’t be able to undo 50 years of progress toward equal rights in our country, against the will of a clear majority of the American people. This radical ruling is a direct attack on constitutional rights that will impact every American, and it’s likely the first of many. This year it’s reproductive freedom, next year it could be marriage equality, and soon it could be union rights. But this fight is not over: the Michigan labor movement is built on solidarity. Reproductive rights are workers’ rights, and we will continue to stand, march, and fight for accessible healthcare for working people across Michigan.”

Ron Bieber, Michigan AFL-CIO president, said in a statement

—News 8’s Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.