On Friday, Mini Timmaraju, president of the abortion rights organization Naral Pro-Choice America, was on a Zoom call with her team when the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade came out. She said the news “felt like a gut punch.” But what drove that home for her in the moment was a text she received from her mom, Chaya Timmaraju, shortly after.
“This is no country for women … any longer,” the text read.
Chaya, an immigrant from India, was Timmaraju’s “first feminist role model,” she said. Timmaraju was still in the meeting when she received the text, but she couldn’t stop herself from letting out a few tears.
Timmaraju said she remembers how amazed by American democracy her mom was when they first moved to Texas in 1979 — Chaya watched in awe as the state’s first Black state senator, Barbara Jordan, held the White House accountable during the Watergate hearings. And her mom had never been more proud than when she worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, Timmaraju said.
“So for her to feel like this country is no longer for her … it’s a colossal failure of this country,” she said.
Timmaraju is far from the only woman to call or text their mom in the wake of the news. Some women participated in the activism that led to the historic Supreme Court decision in 1973, only to see the fundamental right to abortion revoked in their daughters’ lifetimes. Others have dedicated their lives to antiabortion advocacy and fought alongside their daughters to see Roe overturned. Throughout the weekend, women around the country texted their moms — some angry, some elated, all of them emotional.
Christine Yeargin, host of the antiabortion organization Students for Life’s “Speak Out” podcast, said she and her mom celebrated when they heard the news. Yeargin is the product of an unplanned pregnancy, she said, and went on to carry to term her own unplanned pregnancy when she was 20.
“My mom chose life for me, and I’m so grateful that I am here today,” she said.
Yeargin said she was in tears when the decision was released — and immediately called her mom to celebrate.
“I was watering my garden and just stopped,” she said. “I think my neighbors probably think I’m crazy, because the water hose started going everywhere. But I was overwhelmed with joy.”
Later that day, Yeargin and her mom talked about the decision at Yeargin’s daughter’s birthday party.
“She was just as emotional as I was and knows how much hard work I have put into this,” Yeargin said. “We were both overjoyed together, ecstatic.”
Heather, 46, who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used for privacy reasons, immediately sent the news to her two moms in a group text.
“A lunatic installed three justices. And so many people let it happen,” she wrote to her moms, Terry, 67, and Barbara, 75.
“I feel like we are fighting Medusa. Sooo many snakes,” Terry wrote back.
Heather, a professor in Alabama, said she remembers how important abortion rights were to both of her parents when she was growing up in Arizona.
“I just knew that abortions were something that was an option for us in our family,” she said.
But her moms’ concerns over women’s and gay rights began to mount after President Donald Trump took office in 2016, Heather said. Terry and Barbara didn’t legally marry until 2013. When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020 and Amy Coney Barrett replaced her as a conservative justice, Terry and Barbara feared their right to marriage could be rolled back at any moment. Now, that threat looms ever larger, Heather said, after Justice Clarence Thomas suggested reconsidering Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, in his concurring opinion.
“It felt like all the things that we were afraid of actually happened, and I think that’s why the anger was there,” she said. “I’m so mad that people said this would never happen. I still can’t believe it.”
Some women who are personally against abortion were still distressed by the decision. Tabitha Brock, a 41-year-old high school teacher in Arkansas who identifies as conservative, broached the topic sensitively when she texted her daughter, 20-year-old Addington Stroud, on Friday.
Brock said she believes that every child should have a chance at birth unless under extreme circumstances. She got pregnant with Stroud after she was sexually assaulted in college, which she said plays a huge part in her stance against abortion.
Stroud said she’s happy that her mom made the decision to have her and her twin brother, but she is still a staunch supporter of abortion rights. “A woman doesn’t make a decision like that on a whim, and they certainly don’t make it in advance,” Stroud said. “Women don’t want to have abortions, we don’t plan to have abortions, but sometimes it is just the only option we feel can be taken.”
Despite her antiabortion beliefs, Brock still worries about the precedent that overturning of Roe v. Wade sets for her two daughters’ futures: “I feel soon it will be dictated to them when and how they can obtain contraception, who and how they can show love,” she said.
And although she and her daughter differ politically, Brock said she made sure to text her the moment that the decision came out.
“You know my stance on abortions, but the far reaching implications of this overturn of roe v wade is inconceivable! I will always be your biggest ally and fighter,” she wrote. “Don’t ever think that I will not be. I love you!”
Kirstin, a journalist who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used to protect her job, received a text from her 19-year-old daughter while she was covering the story in real time.
“Mom, I’m sobbing,” her daughter wrote.
Kirstin couldn’t be a mother in that moment, she said, because she was busy covering the story. She’s been a journalist during historic events like 9/11 and Trump’s election. But nothing, she said, has hit her as personally as Friday’s ruling.
When Kirstin finally got off work, she had the chance to talk to her daughter, who’s a pre-med college student. Her daughter told her she was being too optimistic when she said that the decision would spark change. But Kirstin stood her ground, she said, and offered one piece of advice for her daughter’s generation: “Rise up, rise up. Be involved.”
“How are you going to serve?” Kirstin said she asked her daughter. “Will you get involved in political campaigns? Will you be an activist? Will you find a way to help get medical abortion into the hands of women who need it on other college campuses? What will you do? That’s your question now — what will you do?”
Anna Tingley is a writer at Variety Magazine.
An earlier version of this article misstated when Mini Timmaraju worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It was 2016, not 2008.