Late Night Hosts React to “Incomprehensible” Overturning of Roe v. Wade

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At the top of each of their late night shows, hosts James Corden, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert took a moment to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

In a taping filmed outside the U.K. Parliament, the Late Late Show’s Corden reacted to the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, first reflecting on how abortion was legalized in the U.K. in 1967. Corden noted that it would take nearly 800 elected officials and appointees to change the legalization of abortion in the U.K. and agree that “the fundamental rights of half the population would be endangered in the United Kingdom.”

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Corden went on to further address the “heart-wrenching and frightening news.”

“For the past eight years, I’ve been living, working and raising my young family in America. It’s a place I love. But you don’t need to live in the United States or even have an American child as I do to feel utter disgust and anger of the news of the Supreme Court, where six politically appointed judges could make a decision that ends the constitutional right to abortion across America,” Corden continued. “A woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body wiped out in a moment.”

The late night host went on to state that “In the land of the American dream, the land of the free, a country which prides itself on the protection of an individual’s liberties, we move instantly back to a dark age where a call has imposed the minority political view on a country for decades to come. With a decision that endangers millions upon millions of women and their families.”

“I’m struggling to get my head around any of this,” he added. “To say that I’m outraged and devastated would be an understatement. It’s incomprehensible that in 2022, we should even have to say out loud that women should be entitled to control their own lives and bodies, let alone live in a country that won’t allow it. If only the American leaders on the right would care and fight as much for the rights of women as they do their guns.”

Over on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host opened with brief remarks about the ruling, describing it as “shocking” and “sadly predictable.”

“I was angered, saddened by the news. And before we get started, I just want to be clear that abortion is not only a woman’s issue, it’s not only a pregnant person’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue,” Meyers said. “We all benefit from reproduction freedom and from access to legal and safe abortions.”

Meyers continued, “I think it’s possible that men hear ‘my body, my choice’ and we take away the message that it’s not our issue to speak about — but it’s everyone’s job to advocate for reproductive rights. So I asked my writers, Amber [Ruffin], Jenny [Hagel] and Ally [Hord], what I could do to help and they said, ‘You can start by shutting up.’ Because when something like this happens, we should center the voices of people who are most affected by it.”

Meyers then gave the floor to Ruffin, Hagel and Hord, all donning “Bans Off Our Bodies” pins, as they welcomed president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson, to engage in a discussion about the Supreme Court ruling, what it means, how people can take action and how men can show they’re allies.

Later on in the show, Meyers also aired a sketch that was filmed after the draft of the Dobbs decision was leaked. “We wrote a sketch and filmed it last week because unlike, I don’t know, the Democratic leadership, we saw this coming,” he said.

In the sketch, Late Night writer Jeff Wright acts as Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade and other Supreme Court rulings, discussing the likelihood and repercussions of them being overturned.

Meanwhile on The Daily Show, host Noah called the news “surreal” and despite everyone having dreaded the day after the draft decision was leaked last month, “the day is here.” He said, “For 50 years, 50 years, women in America have had a constitutional right to an abortion, and now, just like that, the Supreme Court has decided that it’s finished.”

Noah raised the point that though the “Constitution didn’t change,” the “only thing that changed is that Donald Trump, of all people, managed to appoint three pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. Judges, who, by the way, went on and on in their confirmation hearings about how much they respect the important precedent of Roe v. Wade. And we all knew they were full of shit, too, huh?”

Later on, Noah directed his attention to Justice Clarence Thomas, who stated that the Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” cases that made contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages legal across the country.

“And if the overturning wasn’t bad enough, Justice QAnon himself, Clarence Thomas, wrote that he wants the court to reconsider the right to gay marriage, gay sex and contraception. Yeah, imagine that. This dude is so extreme, he’s talking about banning rights I didn’t even realize could be banned,” Noah said before quipping, “Just going to be reading the newspaper, like, ‘Justice Thomas wants to ban the right to engage in nipple play? What?’ Like, at some point, you’re not even a judge anymore. You’re just a cockblock in a fancy robe. That’s all you are. You’re ganging up on everybody else.”

Noah also noted that it’s coincidental that the only ruling Thomas doesn’t want to overturn is the right to interracial marriage, given Thomas himself is in an interracial marriage. “Yeah, I guess, apparently if something affects Clarence Thomas personally, he’s OK with it. Makes me think if we could just somehow get him impregnated by, like, a gay man, all of our problems would be solved,” Noah said.

“Women in America just lost control over their own bodies. Which, I don’t care who you are, is a horrifying thing to be faced with,” Noah said. While observing the Democrats’ response and “knowing that they had multiple opportunities to get ahead of this,” Noah suggested “voters should change things up.” “Instead of fundraising emails, maybe you should do fund-rewarding emails, right? Make the Democrats show you what they’ve done and then you donate to their cause,” he said.

Despite many feeling “infuriated, depressed and like there’s no hope,” Noah encouraged that there is hope, such as donating to or volunteering with grassroots organizations that have already been assisting women and addressing this fight prior to the ruling.

On The Late Show, Colbert welcomed everyone to the “medieval times.”

“Reproductive rights in America lasted for less time than The Young and the Restless,” Colbert later quipped.

Despite already having been aware of the leaked draft opinion in the Dobbs case, Colbert pointed that it still didn’t “emotionally prepare the country for last Friday’s seismic shift in the political landscape.” He added, “Having personal rights is kind of America’s thing. We invented it. Americans having rights taken away is like KFC changing their slogan from ‘We do chicken right’ to ‘There is no constitutional right to chicken. It’s finger lickin’ gone.’ ”

Colbert later raised the question of what the punishments would be for illegal abortions and how pregnancies could be tracked. “They’re gonna have to install those red light cameras in your bedroom. Or if it’s your birthday, on the kitchen counter. It’ll be like mandatory OnlyFans,” he said.

Birth control restrictions could follow abortion bans, which Colbert explained could result in states challenging emergency contraception, IUDs and Plan B. “Which means folks not wanting to get pregnant will have to rely on Plan C: Picturing [Supreme Court Justice] Samuel Alito naked, 100 percent effective.”

The late night hosts join the myriad of public figures who have voiced criticism of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, including John Oliver, Samuel L. Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg.

June 28, 12 p.m. Updated with Colbert’s monologue.

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