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On the day Roe v. Wade is overturned, friends first discover their different views on abortion

An employee from a fence rental company puts up a protective barrier around the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Dallas on Friday, in anticipation of protests following Friday's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Azul Sordo
An employee from a fence rental company puts up a protective barrier around the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Dallas on Friday, in anticipation of protests following Friday's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

For two Dallas city workers enjoying their lunch on a hot afternoon in the shade of City Hall, news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade prompted their first conversation with each other about abortion rights.

And for the first time, they found they had very different views on the issue.

Kristy Smith said she personally opposes abortions. She once took a friend to get an abortion, and found the process disturbing. But she said women’s lives are complicated, and they should have the right to choose for themselves.

Pregnancies put immense stress on the body, and so women should be able to make decisions based on their own health conditions, she said. Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.

“It’s a risk that you might die from it,” she said. “I believe it’s our health as women. I have all five kids and I’m blessed I have all five kids. But it really should be up to us. It really should be up to us.”

There are major financial impacts on a family from an unplanned child, and some families can’t afford to raise their child, she pointed out. And, of course, some pregnancies are the result of rape or incest.

Evelyn Hernandez considered having an abortion when she got pregnant at 17, but her mother talked her out of it. At the time, she said her unplanned pregnancy felt like the end of the world, until she gave birth.

“As soon as I seen him, I was like, you know this is not the end of my life, that’s the beginning of his life. And that’s how I believe that’s how everyone should look at it,” she said.

Now, the 25-year-old says her faith teaches her that an embryo or a fetus is a baby, and there should be right to end that life. No exceptions.

There’s plenty of resources, there’s plenty of ways to cope with things that happen. I know it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think that a child should have to suffer for an inconvenience in your life, no matter how it’s going to impact it,” she said. “Nine times out of 10, I think kids make you stronger.”

Smith nods in agreement to this. She has five kids of her own. And her faith also tells her abortion is wrong. But, right or wrong, it should be a personal decision.

“We all gotta answer to God. If that’s what a woman wants to do, then so be it,” Smith said.

For a month, activists, elected leaders, scholars and clergy on both sides of the abortion debate have been bracing for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision determining the fate of abortion rights in this country.

The court's decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion access will spell an effective end to legal abortion in Texas and several other states in short order, and frees state legislatures to follow suit.

As Smith and Hernandez finished up their lunches and headed back to work, a third woman biked into City Hall Plaza with the day’s decision on her mind — and a green protest sign tucked into her bike basket.

Jean Lamberty was furious at the decision and ready to join a protest in support of abortion access. She remembers demonstrating in support of abortion rights before Roe v. Wade made abortion access the law of the land.

“We can't allow this to happen to women. People are going to die. Children are going to be born who aren't cared for. It's a disaster,” she said.

Lamberty plans to get back out and protest this weekend, and said she’s already organizing people to vote against Republican leaders who have spent years undermining abortion rights. But she’s not optimistic about political change.

“I'm tired of men stomping all over women's rights. Unscrupulous men, in particular, are making particular decision, and who in Congress is going to step up and pass laws to protect us? No one. So that's my anger. I'll be doing whatever I can to get this reversed,” she said.

Many North Texans are just starting to consider the reality of life in a nation without a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, even that right was already limited. And for many, it’s spurring conversations about an issue that isn’t always a kitchen-table discussion.

Demonstrations are planned through the weekend, and there’ll likely be no shortage of religious leaders leading weekend congregations in praise or solemnity for the end of an era in reproductive rights.

Pablo Arauz Peña contributed to this story.

Got a tip? Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Email Christopher can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.

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Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.