tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC June 24, 2022 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
nearly 50 years of abortion rights, leaving the matter up to states now to decide. >> it feels like a betrayal >> a complete and utter joy that it was finally overturned >> the majority opinion written by justice samuel alito saying roe was egregiously wrong from the start. the three liberal justices in their dissent warning millions of american women have lost a fundamental constitutional protection the impact, roughly half the states expected to ban abortion 13 states with trigger laws banning abortion immediately or soon. clinics in several states already turning women away president biden calling this a sad day for america, framing the upcoming midterms as an all-out battle for abortion rights. and the far-reaching fallout, could a national ban on abortion be in the future and how justice clarence thomas opened the door to overturning the rights to contraception and
same-sex marriage, too. and the first gun legislation passed in years. now on its way to the president biden's desk and our nbc news exclusive, one-on-one with ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy. his message about the americans captured while fighting in ukraine. what he is now vowing to do. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening, everyone where do privacy and personal freedom begin, and where do they end questions that framed an enduring divide in modern american, one many thought was settled nearly 50 years ago when the supreme court affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion today, the court answered that question again, this time in a 5-4 vote taking away what was regarded as a fundamental right. right now, new laws banning abortion are taking effect in several states, just hours after the court overturned the
landmark roe versus wade decision leaving it to states to determine whether abortion is legal. justice samuel alito in his opinion writing roe was egregiously wrong from the start a draft of the decision leaked to the public weeks ago took away the suspense of the moment, but not the euphoria of victim ri -- victory for supporters or th sting of defeat felt by abortion supporters here's the scene right now of crowds gathered outside the supreme court in protest and celebration. our team ready to cover it all, starting with pete williams >> reporter: outside the court, now ringed with a security fence, opponents of abortion rights cheered >> complete and utte joy that it was finally overturned but the determination, the steely determination that the battle is not over >> we have a voice in our demands. >> we have a voice in our demands. >> reporter: for others, it was what they were dreading ever since the court signaled in december it was likely to overturn roe.
>> it feels like a betrayal it feels like my country doesn't love me and appreciate my body as a woman. >> reporter: the court overturned nearly 50 years of abortion precedence in a ruling that was a first never before has the court granted then taken away a widely recognized constitutional right the court voted 5-4 to overturn roe chief justice john roberts said going that far wasn't necessary to uphold mississippi's law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. the court voted 6-3 to uphold that law. the majority opinion overturning roe tracked closely with the version that leaked in may touching off nationwide protests including at the homes of some of the court's conservatives. justice samuel alito's majority opinion said no right to abortion is protected by any supreme court constitutional provision. the roe decision he said was egregiously wrong and deeply damaging >> like winston churchill said this is the end of the beginning. it has been a 50-year battle to protect
unborn children. now we have those battles in every state. >> reporter: unlike other court rulings based on a right to privacy, alito says abortion is differen because it involves a potential right. so he said it does not undermine the rights to same-sex marriage or contraception, though justice clarence thomas said the court should take another look at them, too. the ruling does not make abortion illegal, but it is no longer a constitutional right so that leaves the issue up to each state. it is likely to become illegal soon in about half the nation. some states already banned it as of tonight. the rest of the banned states are likely to follow in the coming weeks. justice brett kavanaugh in a controlling concurrence said states that ba abortion cannot make it a crime for their residents to travel to a state where it is legal to get the procedure others said the court ruling means from the moment of fertilization a woman has no rights to speak of, they said a state
can force her to keep a pregnancy to ter even at the steepest personal and family costs. >> people are going to be heading to the streets in the wake of this decision immediately and in the days and months to come and making clear that the majority of the people in the united states support abortion rights. >> pete is joining us now from outside the supreme court. pete, what has it been like out there today >> well, this is the biggest crowd i have ever seen outside the supreme court after a decision it has been building steadily all day people celebrating and mourning the decisions. while it does return the issue to the states, the dissenters say there is nothing in this ruling that would prevent congress from banning abortion nationwide if it ever chose to. lester >> all right, pete thank you. the ripple effect was immediate. just after the decision some of those trigger laws already in effect, some women unable to get abortion services planned for today. blayne alexander with more now from mississippi. >> reporter: outside
the mississippi clinic at the heart of today's supreme court decision. >> we do abortions, and we are proud to do abortions. >> reporter: even though the days for that are now numbered at the jackson women's health organization the requests are only growing. in ten days, because of the state's trigger law, mississippi's only abortion clinic will shut down for good. >> i will tell you that any patient that contacts us, we will see them we will make sure we see them during that ten days >> reporter: but in some states change is already happening. of the 13 trigger law states abortion is now illegal with a few exceptions in at least five of them following today's ruling including missouri, oklahoma, and arkansas, where through tears the attorney general signed the certification late today. >> restoring to the state of arkansas the authority to prohibit abortion >> reporter: in wisconsin, planned parenthood immediately stopped abortions following today's ruling the medical director had to break the news to patients already in the waiting room. >> today i had to look
people in the eye and turn them away when they were seeking abortion >> reporter: across the country, emotional reaction on both sides. >> my first reaction was rage >> this is an amazing victory. >> reporter: while some lawmakers celebrate the decision. >> this is a profound change in the law in our country, and it will save millions of lives of unborn children. >> reporter: others -- >> my wife is in tears. my kids are incredibly distraught my sister says i thought the courts were there to protect our freedoms, not roll them back. >> reporter: back in mississippi, today's ruling is a victory for terry herring. >> my eyes just filled with tears this is a day to rejoice. >> reporter: she has spent nearly 30 years fighting to end abortion and says she's proud mississippi played a role what does today mean for you? >> you know, personally, you know, we didn't know if this would happen in our lifetime, right? we have been advocating for a long time so seeing this happen
in my lifetime and knowing that we had an opportunity to be a part of that is -- it means us being a part of changing history. >> reporter: but for tyler harden who runs planned parenthood in the state. you have gotten dozen of calls since this decision came down >> uh-huh. >> are women scared? >> yes and to be honest, i'm scared, as well. >> reporter: the closest clinic she says will be in florida, a seven-hour drive. >> that means people will have to find funds to travel, people will have to find funds to get hotels rooms, buy food. >> is that a feasible option for them? >> it is not. >> blayne joins us now from mississippi i know one of the issues particularly there is the ability to travel out of state. it is particularly hard for many women. >> that's right, lester, especially here in mississippi, that has the highest poverty rate of any state in the country especially among black women, the group who many fear will be most impacted by today's decision in speaking with activists on both
sides, one place they agree a focus should be getting women the resources they need for a safe pregnancy and beyond lester >> blayne alexander, thank you. president biden condemned today's decision declaring that roe will be o the ballot in this fall's midterm elections. while conservative republicans applauded the ruling peter alexander from the white house. >> reporter: a somber president biden tonight declaring it is a low moment for the nation's highest court. >> a sad day for the court and for the country. now, with roe gone, let's be very clear. the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk. >> reporter: the white house mindful of how personal this ruling is, inviting more than a dozen senior aides, all women, to witness the president calling the decision the result of an extreme ideology. >> it was three justices named by one president. donald trump make no mistake. this decision is a culmination of a deliberate effort over decades of said
balance of our law. >> reporter: top republicans touting the ruling as a hard-won victory. >> the right to life has been vindicated. the voiceless will finally have a voice. >> it will save countless innocent children. >> reporter: two prominent senators now suggest they were mislead by assurances made during recent confirmation hearings. >> roe v wade is a important precedent of the supreme court. >> a good judge will consider it as precedent of the united states supreme court. >> reporter: republican susan collins slamming today's decision as inconsistent with those justices' testimony. what comes next? with his authority limited president biden is calling on congress to guarantee the right to an abortion but senate democrats currently don't have votes for that the president vowing his administration will protect women's access to fda approved medications like abortion pills and contraception, and promising to defen women's rights to travel to other states
where abortion remains legal. 63% of americans do not believe roe should be overturned. democrats, including the nation's first woman vice president, hoping to redirect that outrage to this fall's midterm elections. >> you have the final word so this is not over. >> this fall, roe is on the ballot. >> reporter: a defining cultural clash in a country now even more deeply divided. >> president biden, is suggesting the court's ruling could lead to other personal freedoms being rolled back what's he talking about? >> reporter: that's right, lester. the president cited justice thomas' opinion that the contraception and same-sex marriage should be reconsidered president biden arguing the court is taking the country down an extreme and dangerous path lester >> thank you, peter alexander. i want to turn to yamiche. we heard the president and house speaker saying this fall roe
is essentially on the ballots in this midterms, but to what end? >> much like the impact of this decision, th political fallout was immediate. ahead of the midterm, democrats will be hammering home the point of voters that poll show the majority of americans want abortion to be legal in some form but the reality is this is not a one-issue election democrats will be trying to focus voters on abortion while americans are juggling multiple challenges including record high gas prices and historic inflation. meanwhile, this decision is th culmination of conservative activism and the strategy in the senate to create a conservative majority on the court the question is, will republican lawmakers face any backlash or will it strengthen their movement t lead to federal action to ban abortion. what is clear is that abortion will likely be a top issue in the mid terms as this new political landscape takes shape. lester >> yamiche, thank you. with abortion restrictions likely in more than half the country some states where it will remain legal ar anticipating an influx of patients from elsewhere. some abortion providers are even relocating here's stephanie gosk.
>> reporter: with the stroke of a pen the supreme court has likely triggered a massive abortion migration in this country. more than 300,000 abortions were performed last year in the 26 states where the procedure coul soon be illegal or highly restricted. now those people may choose to cross state lines. in tennessee the attorney general wants the state's six-week ban to start right now. >> the people of tennessee for the first time in 50 years will have a chance to weigh in on this issue >> this is where we do our abortion procedures back here >> these are your apportion procedure rooms. you have two rooms >> yes. >> reporter: we visited the choices health care clinic in memphis. soon, the doors to these rooms will be closed for good. >> our patients are predominantly black. the majority of them are uninsured or underinsured. >> reporter: they have been bracing for this court decision for months. >> we all thought, this is going to be really bad for us. so i said to my executive team there is a place called carbondale >> reporter:
carbondale is in southern illinois. three hours by car in memphis. it's where the plan to open a new clinic in august they were reluctant to show us pictures because of security concerns this clinician will be driving back and forth. >> will it be big enough to handle what is really going to be potentially a flood of patients right? >> that's a good question i don't know i think that we will be the only clinic right now in the southern part of illinois we will handle as many patients as we can. >> reporter: in some states where abortion will still be legal access is being expanded connecticut passed a law allowing non-physicians to provide abortions. anti-abortion activists hope increasing support systems during pregnancy will change peoples' minds. >> i don't know of anybody that is, or any state that is thinking that they can stop people from traveling to another state. we are going to have to just push even
harder than we have been to encourage women to let their baby live and to seek out the resources that are available. >> reporter: for many of those who choose not to, getting an abortion just got a whole lot harder stephanie gosk, nbc news, memphis, tennessee. in 60 seconds, today's other major story, final bipartisan approval in congress of the most significant gun safety bill in decades.
back now with another major story tonight, congress passing the biggest changes to our nation's gun laws in nearly 30 years. garrett haake is at the capitol. garrett, this bipartisan bill breaks decades of congressional gridlock on guns. >> that's right, lester lawmakers in both parties hailed this as a significant breakthrough on an issue in which congress has traditionally failed to act despite enormous public pressure to do so. now, this bill centers around enhanced background checks for any would be gun buyers under 21. new resources for
states to enact red flag laws and a $7 billion investment in mental health programs the senate acting first passing the bill late last night in an emotional vote as gun violence survivors and advocates looked on. 15 republicans joining all democrats in support house gop leader urged their members to oppose this bill which they said infringed on second amendment rights but 14 house republicans voted for it anyway, including the representatives of buffalo and uvalde tonight, lester, all that's left is for president biden to sign this bill into law. we expect to see that in coming days. >> garrett haake, thank you. up next, richard engle's exclusive with ukraine's president zelenskyy. his first public comments about those two captured americans.
you can run things the way you want —your team, ours or a mix of both. with the nation's largest ip network. from the most innovative company. bring on today with comcast business. powering possibilities.™ now to our nbc news exclusive, as ukraine's forces withdraw from the critical eastern city of severodonetsk, president volodymyr zelenskyy sitting down one-on-one with our richard engle. the ukrainian leader talking about the americans captured while fighting in ukraine and more, speaking throughout the interview in both english and ukrainian. >> reporter: we met president volodymyr zelenskyy in his office good to see you again. while he makes many appearances, he does few interviews two americans answered your call, as many did, to come here and fight for ukraine's democracy. they were captured the kremlin won't rule out that they could face the death penalty.
is there something you would like to say directly to the families of those two americans? >> they are heroes for me, they are the same like ukrainians because they give, and they gave the main things they had, their lives. their lives. but i'm sure that we'll fight for them, and we will get them back and, of course, they will come back to, to your families, to their children >> reporter: we spoke just moments after ukrainian troops, under heavy russian fire for weeks, were forced to withdraw from the city of severodonetsk in the east, giving russia a new strategic foothold it seems like there are small advances from each side every day, and huge numbers of casualties. can you continue in this how do you change the stalemate? >> translator: their military outnumbers ours by 10 to 1. no matter how strong we are, they outnumber us by 10 to 1.
it is very difficult >> reporter: are you worried that the west will lose interest in ukraine, become exhausted from this war, focus on other things, and that you will be increasingly isolated over time >> translator: i am worried about this thing, indeed. the war has no boundaries the war is currently happening in ukraine, but that means that the war is happening everywhere in the world. i'm sure about that. >> reporter: president zelenskyy thanked the united states and president biden directly for the weapons he's received so far but said he needs a lot more lester? >> richard engle, thank you for that richard's conversation was part of the aspen ideas festival for which nbc is the media partner. you can watch the full interview thi tuesday on nbcnews.com. up next here as we continue some of the iconic moments that will define this consequential day for america.
after a pivotal day for america, we leave you with what americans were saying today as the chorus of the country was rewritten by the supreme court. >> the supreme court has now overturned roe v wade. >> i feel betrayed and i feel lost. i feel like i'm 19 years old. i've had my first year of college i shouldn't be worried about my rights being taken away from me and it hurts that i have little hope for the future >> i have had people in my family have
abortions. and they have felt the regret years and years down the line. if roe v wade wouldn't have been legal inside of the united states, i would have family members that i don't have today. >> it is shocking. this is something that women should have a right to i just don't -- i can't. >> every child deserves life. human rights start at conception and end at natural death. that's what i am going to fight for until the day that i die. >> this is the first time the supreme court has ever granted a constitutional right, which it did so when roe was decided in 1973, and then took it away a popular right that was widely recognized. that's "nightly news" for this friday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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