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Protesters take to streets of Richmond after Roe v. Wade overruling. What's next for the Commonwealth?

After the Supreme Court's bombshell overruling of Roe V. Wade, hundred of protesters took to the streets of Richmond. But what happens now in Virginia?

RICHMOND, Va. — Less than three hours after she got the notification on her phone, Mackenzie Ward was at the steps of the State Capitol in Richmond. 

"We knew it was coming, but maybe I had a naïve hope that maybe it wasn’t," she said. 

One of dozens of demonstrators on the grounds of the Capitol Square Friday afternoon, Ward was not alone in her anger. 

"An overwhelming sorrow and anger took me over. I just want to be around people feeling that same thing," she said. 

News of the Supreme Court's bombshell overruling of Roe V. Wade-- a longstanding court decision that guarantees federal protections for abortion rights-- echoed across the United States Friday morning. The SCOTUS ruling leaves the power up to states, a dynamic not lost on protesters like Rowen Arkin. 

“It feels like there are a bunch of old white men telling me what I can and can’t do with my body. I’m just overwhelmingly disappointed at this point," Arkin said.

Later Friday evening, hundreds of protesters marched up and down East Broad Street near Downtown Richmond, traveling both on the sidewalks and through road medians. 

What happens now in Virginia?

Political analysts say for the moment, not much will change about abortion access in Virginia. 

Virginia is not a state that had "trigger laws" in place at the time of the overruling, meaning that abortions are still legal and protected in the Commonwealth. But a spotlight shines on the state's leadership, as Gov. Glenn Youngkin ran as a pro-life candidate, and has publicly acknowledged he'd like legislators to start working on common ground legislation over the issue.

“It’s not going to change much. If anything those [pro-choice] advocacy groups will change their focus. They’ll still provide those services to individual families and women," Ben Melusky said, an associate professor of political science at Old Dominion University.

For the moment, abortion rights reform would face an uphill climb in the state, as the General Assembly is split with Democrats controlling the State Senate and Republicans controlling the House of Delegates. 

“It’s only a one-seat majority for Democrats. It’s going to put a lot of focus on the 2023 elections in Virginia," Melusky said.

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