PHILADELPHIA - A massive protest marched through the streets of Philadelphia on Friday night, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade giving states the power to ban or otherwise restrict abortions.
Several Philadelphia pro-choice groups - with the support of city council members - organized the "All Out For Abortion Rights" rally at City Hall that started to ramp-up around 6 p.m. and exploded in size a short time later.
Protesters appeared to stay peaceful as they chanted and held homemade signs scrawled with pro-choice talking points and quips. City councilwoman Kendra Brooks scolded the ruling, calling it "the culmination of the Republican fifty-year campaign that began when Roe was first codified in 1973."
The crowd stretched back for several blocks as it marched down Market Street towards Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Police closed intersections along Market Street to briefly stymie the crowd's progress, but they continued towards I-95.
The group fractured as it snaked through the streets and thinned as the night continued. Pockets of protesters were seen walking down Race and Arch streets, back towards City Hall where the gathering slowly petered out.
The rally in Philadelphia was just one of several demonstrations sparked by the landmark decision to overturn the decades old decision that protected abortion rights for women in all 50 states.
Pro-choice protesters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania flooded the area outside Republican state representative Brian Fitzpatrick hours after the court's reversal. A grassroots organizer with Indivisible Bucks County called it a "difficult day" and urged residents to vote in the upcoming November election.
"We have an election coming up in Pennsylvania, and we have to keep abortions safe and legal in this state," she said. "It's very important on this really difficult day to get people activated and energized to vote for people who will keep abortions safe and legal in Pennsylvania."
Even after the supreme court ruling, abortions remain legal in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In New Jersey and Delaware, the right to an abortion is enshrined by the state's constitution or legislature.
FOX 29 political analyst Bruce Gordon opined that the upcoming gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania could lead to a change in abortion access. Trump-backed candidate Doug Mastriano said he would sign legislation to restrict or ban abortions, while Democratic challenger Josh Shapiro expressed that he would veto such legislation.
Some Republican-led states banned or severely limited abortion immediately, while other restrictions will take effect later. At least one state, Texas, is waiting until after the Supreme Court issues its formal judgment in the case, which is separate from the opinion issued Friday and could take about a month.
In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.
Even though abortions will stay legal in Delaware Valley states, protesters still admonished the ruling in droves on Friday and will likely continue to do so throughout the weekend.
Across the Delaware River, organizers in Cherry Hill the Unitarian Universalism Church held a ‘We Won’t Give Up!: Continuing the fight for reproductive freedom' rally that drew a large crowd.
"As a faith tradition, we are committed to Reproductive Justice, which espouses the human right to have children, not to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments and to safeguard bodily autonomy and to express one's sexuality freely," the organization said on Facebook.
The Associated Press contributed to this report