The US Supreme Court on Friday ended the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shreds half a century of constitutional protections on one of the most divisive and bitterly fought issues in American political life.
The conservative-dominated court overturned the landmark 1973 "Roe v Wade" decision that enshrined a woman's right to an abortion and said individual states can permit or restrict the procedure themselves.
"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the court said.
The New York Times reported that the ruling "will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices".
Former president Barack Obama said the court's ruling on abortion attacks "essential freedoms".
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday called a US Supreme Court ruling ending the federal right to abortion "a big step backwards".
Hundreds of people - some shedding tears of joy and others weeping with grief - gathered outside the fenced-off Supreme Court, where security was tightened ahead of the ruling.
"It's hard to imagine living in a country that does not respect women as human beings and their right to control their bodies," said Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, 49, a mother of two daughters who was choking back tears.
Pro-choice campaigners and supporters also expressed their disappointment and fury on social media after the decision was announced.
"What a sad day for the women of America; the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade," said Asieh Namdar, an American-Iranian journalist, on Twitter.
Nazir Afzal, the British solicitor, said: "Yesterday the US Supreme Court says there should be no restrictions on carrying guns. Today they have overturned [Roe vs Wade] which will lead to millions of women choosing dangerous backstreet abortions instead."