Florida abortion rights activists react to leak of Supreme Court draft opinion
Abortion rights advocates say no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling is, they will continue to fight for safe access to the procedure.
The fallout to the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade is reverberating across the country.
Abortion rights advocates across Florida say they will continue to fight for safe access to the procedure.
The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund is an all-volunteer reproductive rights advocacy group. The organization says on Tuesday alone 19 people called seeking financial help for an abortion, multiple others asked for transportation to a clinic, and one person had to cancel an appointment due to lack of child care.
The organization's McKenna Kelley said these kinds of barriers exist even with federal protection.
"And if what's in this memo is true, if this opinion does stand, when the ruling ultimately is issued, it will only be more difficult for them to access that abortion care," she said.
And Kelley says the group is gearing up to help clients access abortions in other states when Florida's recently passed 15-week limitgoes into effect July 1.
"Currently those are Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Illinois. So, if they need assistance paying for flights or Uber's or Lyft's, we can help fund that."
Stephanie Fraim, president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said her staff is devastated by the news of the Supreme Court draft memo.
"And (they're) trying to understand frankly, what it means that our highest court in the land and our government doesn't respect the health care that they provide every day," she said.
Fraim added that if the court overturns the constitutional right to abortion, there is nothing stopping individual states from enacting severe limits on the procedure, and it's conceivable that further restrictions could be enacted in Florida beyond the 15-week limit.
"Particularly with this leaked memo coming out, and every indication that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe and undo 50 years of precedent, I think we wouldn't be surprised to see the Florida legislature try and outlaw abortion as quickly as possible here in Florida."
Kanesha Fuller, president of the Women’s March of Jacksonville, said she is concerned is the court overturns Roe v. Wade, other civil rights could be taken way in the future.
“Whenever you have one civil right or civil liberty that is being disrupted, or threatened, everything can fall under that,” she told WJCT's First Coast Connect. “It really can create a downfall of rights overall.
"So, when we ask people to vote, when we ask people to show up and we ask people to mobilize, we are, essentially, fighting for all civil liberties, even if we are now focusing on one in particular.”
Fraim said it's also important for people to understand that abortion is still legal in Florida — for now. The Supreme Court has not yet officially ruled on Roe, or the Mississippi law that triggered the abortion question before them.
John Stemberger is president of the Florida Family Policy Council in Orlando. He’s cautious, because it’s just a draft, but says the decision is huge and historic.
“Some of us have worked our entire lives to see this moment,” he said. “It’s almost surreal, to experience it and to understand it’s actually happening. So it’s a good day for Florida and a good day for the United States that we’re moving toward life and away from death.”
WMFE's Joe Byrnes and WJCT's Will Brown contributed to this report.
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