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Roe v. Wade leak sparks protest in Virginia. What's next for the state?

Demonstrators protested outside federal courthouses in Norfolk, Richmond and Washington D.C.

VIRGINIA, USA — A decision made almost 50 years ago is center stage in the U.S.

In what's quickly become the most talked-about story in the nation, leaked documents reported by Politico suggest the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade case — which created federal abortion rights in 1973 — is set to be overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. 

A formal decision isn't expected until late June or early July. However, all the buzz brought people out to rally Tuesday night across the Commonwealth. Demonstrators protested outside federal courthouses in Norfolk, Richmond and Washington D.C.

Chants like "My body, my choice" could be heard down Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk. 

“It is heartbreaking. It is frustrating thinking about all the Americans across the country who are likely to lose access to abortion," Jamie Lockhart, the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said.

In Virginia, there are six Planned Parenthood locations that offer abortion services to clients. Two are in Hampton Roads, including ones in Virginia Beach and Hampton. According to Planned Parenthood officials, abortion services make up less than 3% of the services they offer on a regular basis.

“We know that those with resources can travel to get the care they need and deserve. Those who don’t have the resources, those in Black, brown and rural communities, are going to be those who suffer the most," Lockhart said.

It leaves a big question in Virginia with Gov. Glenn Youngkin re-affirming in a statement Tuesday that he is a pro-life advocate, but did not make any further comments as to the next steps for the state.

When asked if Roe v. Wade should be overturned, the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater in Virginia Beach said, "We think it's a good thing, and we do hope that in Virginia, it would mean more laws that protect all human life, including the pre-born."

Christine Robinson, vice president of ministry operations for Crisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater went on to say, "In terms of our work, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, it doesn't really change any of the laws in Virginia. Our state, we have very few restrictions on abortion. We anticipate we'll be operating the same way we have been."

It's a sentiment Care Net Peninsula echoes across the water.

"We provide the help and the hope women need to choose life for their baby," said Care Net Peninsula Executive Director Ryan Holloway. "Our mission is to serve women that face unplanned pregnancies regardless of the political climate." 

Holloway said that their faith-based nonprofit offers free resources and services to women who face unplanned pregnancies, during all stages. 

"There are moral implications about it for many, many many people — maybe not everyone, but for many of the women we serve, they're wrestling with the moral implications of what to do, the physical implications, the implications it has for their families and a lot of important relationships," he said. 

Gaylene Kanoyton, president of Celebrate Healthcare LLC, said she believes in a woman's right to choose. Kanoyton said improving access and education is key moving forward.

"If [Roe v. Wade] is overturned, it won't be a level playing field," said Kanoyton.

She worries about the fallout on the federal level potentially trickling down to Virginia, especially mounting in communities of color, as Lockhart previously mentioned.

"There are many barriers in health care, with maternal health and also reproductive," Kanoyton added. "Black and brown people didn't have, women didn't have access to someone that knew how to conduct an abortion. So, they used hangers, they used all kinds of different what they call 'potions' to abort a baby. Women's health was always at risk in the Black and brown community." 

Passions on both sides likely will only build, as the Supreme Court's vote is expected this summer. 

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