Several hundred people took to the streets in downtown St. Petersburg on the 4th of July, rallying in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling which struck down a federal right to abortion and put the matter to the states to decide.
What You Need To Know
- A circuit judge struck down Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks late last week, but a spokesperson for Gov. DeSantis says that they are confident that they will be successful by appealing to the Florida Supreme Court
- There are eight states that have now outlawed abortions, but federal judges in some of those states have temporarily blocked them from going into effect
- Some Republicans in the Florida Legislature would like to go beyond the 15-week ban
- PREVIOUS: Judge temporarily blocks Florida’s 15-week abortion ban
Monday’s demonstration was led by the group Women’s Advocacy Movement of Pinellas. A similar rally was held in Tampa.
“I’d love to see something at the federal level, but obviously they failed us in that aspect,” said Tampa resident Isabel Hernandez, joining other abortion-rights advocates who have recently criticized the Democratic Party for failing to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law in the years that they’ve had control in Congress.
Before marching down Beach Drive, abortion-rights advocates listened to an hour of speeches in North Straub Park.
Jack Wallace, a member of the group Tampa Bay Party for Socialism and Liberation, also attacked the Democratic Party for calling on their supporters to go to the polls every two years.
“We have done that time and time again, and clearly that has failed us,” he said.
The high court’s ruling ended a 49-year-old federal right to an abortion, putting the matter back into play for each of governments of the fifty states in the country to craft their own measures on abortion.
Dr. Jennifer Griffin is an abortion provider based in the Tampa Bay area. She says that there are situations in which a woman’s life is in jeopardy and that only an abortion can remedy those situations. But she says that there are discrepancies with some state laws when it comes to exceptions for women’s health, mentioning ectopic pregnancies, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of a pregnant woman’s uterus.
“However, it can still have a ‘heartbeat.’ It can still be ‘living,’ according to these (state) laws,” Griffin said, placing quotation marks over the words heartbeat and living. “So what are we going to do? Are we going to let it fester there until it bursts, and the woman dies from hemorrhage? This is a problem.”
Eight states have now outlawed abortions, but federal judges in Kentucky, Louisiana and Utah have temporarily blocked “trigger” bans in those state from taking effect.
“I love how the judges are blocking it temporarily, but that’s only temporary,” said 21-year-old Gabby Hernandez from Tampa. “There needs to be something in full effect that’s going to stop this from happening.”
In Tallahassee, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled last week that Florida’s newly passed measure banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy (with no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking) was unconstitutional, and said that he would soon issue an injunction blocking it, though he has yet to do that.
The governor’s office says that the state will appeal that decision once Judge Cooper writes his order and that they’re confident that they’ll be successful.
“We will appeal yesterday’s ruling and ask the Florida Supreme Court to reverse its existing precedent regarding Florida’s right to privacy. The struggle for life is not over,” DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw told Spectrum Bay News 9 on Saturday.
The Florida Legislature’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks which was signed into law earlier this year is the most restrictive measure that the state has imposed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. But following the overturn of Roe last month, there are calls by some in the Republican-led Legislature to enact further restrictions on access to an abortion.
Hillsborough County Republican House Rep. Mike Beltran told Spectrum Bay News 9 last week that he favors an all-out ban on abortions in the state. Three other local GOP House members declined to respond to our request for comment.
Governor DeSantis hasn’t said much about the issue, though he did tweet out on the day that Roe was overturned that he wants to “expand Florida’s pro-life protections.”