WASHINGTON (AP) - Abortion-rights supporters and opponents said Monday they were devastated by a Supreme Court decision that keeps abortion legal yet broadens state power to restrict it.
They agreed that proposals tightening restrictions on abortion will crop up quickly in statehouses.
"I think we will see a renewal of that activity," said Burke Balch, legislative director for the National Right to Life. "Certainly that is an area that will be moving legislatively."
"We will see endless creativity in the legislatures in the coming years. Restriction after restriction, just short of an outlawed abortion," said Roger Evans, an attorney for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Both sides said they would turn their attention to the Freedom of Choice Act, which would legislate a woman's right to obtain an abortion. The proposal is being debated in Congress.
Kathryn Kolbert, of the Center for Reproductive Law, said Congress must act to protect abortion rights because the Supreme Court has greatly weakened Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
"All Americans who support reproductive privacy and freedom must work together to pass this critical legislation," she said. "The justices have blown a hole in Roe big enough to drive a Mack truck through it."
But James Bopp Jr., general counsel for the National Right to Life, said abortion-rights supporters were "being extremists" by pressing for unrestricted abortion.
"The pro-abortion side has won 95 percent of the argument," Bopp said. "The court has given us very little hope that anything can be done about abortion on demand."
Anti-abortion groups seemed most wounded by Monday's decision.
Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion activist group Operation Rescue, said, "Three Reagan-Bush appointees have stabbed justice in the back. That is an incredible betrayal."
Terry singled out Justice David Souter, who he said "put the legitimacy of this court before the lives of children."
But Operation Rescue later said in a statement that the decision was "a victory for women, whom abortionists have been exploiting with the government's approval since the Roe vs. Wade decision."