Millions of women will be cut off from accessing safe abortion after an American court overturned the historic Roe vs Wade verdict.
Individual states now have the power to ban procedures for pregnancy termination – and about half of them are expected to do so, with 13 previously passing laws designed to come into effect immediately after the Supreme Court ruling.
US President Joe Biden said it was a “solemn moment” for Americans and Attorney General Merrick Garland said the court had dealt a “devastating blow to reproductive freedom”.
“The Supreme Court expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognised,” Mr Biden said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“That’s never been done to a right that is so important to so many Americans.”
He said voters “must” elect leaders who will “codify woman’s right to choose into federal law”.
Protests erupted outside the court building following the decision. There were also public celebrations – and praise by ultra-conservative Americans.
British Prime Minister labelled it a “big step backward”.