WORCESTER, Mass. - Following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion rights protesters gathered outside City Hall in Worcester on Friday.

The ruling comes seven weeks after a leaked draft opinion suggested Roe v. Wade could be overturned, but even those who spent the intervening days in concern were shocked when the other shoe dropped. 

“I couldn’t believe they’d actually go through with it, but they did, they did go through with it,” said state Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-1st Worcester).

Senator Chandler has been a vocal advocate for abortion rights, and while the ROE Act she helped pass will keep the practice legal in Massachusetts, her concerns lie with people in states that have taken a more restrictive approach. 

“I’m old enough to remember the pre-Roe days. I remember what they were like,” Sen. Chandler said. “I remember young women who were terrified of having a baby, didn’t know what to do. If you can’t get an abortion in your own state, women are going to travel across the country. Certainly not the best thing, and certainly not the cheapest thing to do, particularly for young, poor women of color.”

In the wake of Friday’s decision, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order to protect reproductive health care providers who serve out-of-state residents. 

Still, there’s concern state protection can only go so far, particularly for organizations like the Jane Fund of Central Massachusetts, which helps pay for abortions regardless of where a patient lives.

“It’s very disappointing that (Gov. Baker) wouldn’t also extend protections if there were lawsuits for abortion funds who have agreed to fund appointments for folks who are out-of-state coming to Massachusetts,” said Vikki Angelico, board president of the Jane Fund. “Bottom line is, we’re going to continue this work. We’re going to show up every day. We’re going to help people pay for their abortions.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert McManus released the following statement after the decision:

“Our prayers must continue in earnest for a greater respect for all human life. As Christians we must respond with charity in support of the life of the child in the womb whose dignity deserves our respect and legal protection, to the mother who is afraid, alone or whose life may be in jeopardy, and with respect for all citizens who struggle with this most divisive issue in our country and our world. As Christians, we cannot react with violence and hatred toward those with whom we disagree. Only the virtue of charity can vanquish evil.”

Senator Chandler expressed concern this could be the first in a series of consequential decisions from a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. 

“This is the first shoe to drop. That’s what worries me,” Sen. Chandler said. “It’s an important shoe. It’s one I feel passionately about and have always felt passionately about, but so are all the others. The quality of life we have obtained here in this country is envied by everyone in the world, and we may see this one-by-one be removed.”