Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida protesters voice anger and fear after leaked draft of Supreme Court abortion opinion

Miami abortion protest 05042022
Daniel Rivero
/
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

“I’m super pissed, I’m just like, 'Get your hands off of my uterus, off of my body,' " said Lauren Lauren Routt, who was among those demonstrating across the state after the leak of a Supreme Court opinon on Roe v. Wade.

A year ago, Lauren Routt had an abortion. The 30-year-old lifelong Hialeah resident said it was a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life, in a positive way.

“It’s taken me a long time just to say the words, ‘I had an abortion,’ it’s been a year and this is my first time kind of coming out and saying it outside of my immediate family,” she said.

On Tuesday, Routt was among dozens of activists and elected officials who gathered to protest and express anger over a Supreme Court opinion that was leaked in draft form. The leak, first reported by Politico, shows the likely overthrow of the Roe v. Wade decision, and with it nearly 50 years of abortion access in the U.S.

Routt wore a black shirt for the occasion that read: “Thank God For Abortion.”

“I’m super pissed, I’m just like, 'Get your hands off of my uterus, off of my body,' ” Routt said. “I can’t stand to see this, it’s definitely emotional, but I have this fire and rage inside of me that we have to fight for the next generation to make sure that women, men, everyone has access to reproductive rights and we’re out here fighting every day.”

If the leaked draft opinion does go into effect, abortion would still be legal in Florida in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. That’s after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new bill that takes effectr in July.

Abortion rights activists also gathered for rallies outside the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee and across the state. Protests organized by Planned Parenthood took place in St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Lakeland and other locations.

Alyssa Burchfield was one of dozens in attendance at the Pinellas County Judicial building in St. Petersburg.

 Abortion-rights activists hold a rally in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
Octavio Jones
/
WUSF Public Media
Abortion-rights activists hold a rally in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Burchfield said she is the survivor of a traumatic pregnancy in which she needed a late-term abortion to save her life.

"I'm here today because abortion is absolutely an essential aspect of health care for women and beyond," Burchfield said. "This is something that is absolutely essential and important to show that we respect the rights of women, that we respect women as not just vessels to carry children, but as autonomous beings."

 Abortion rights activists sit gathered on the stairs of the Pinellas County Judicial building during a rally Tuesday in St. Petersburg.
Octavio Jones
/
WUSF Public Media
Abortion rights activists sit gathered on the stairs of the Pinellas County Judicial building during a rally Tuesday in St. Petersburg.

Hilary Rubin said she also attended the rally to fight for women's rights. And the St. Petersburg teacher said she brought her young son to teach him to stand up for those rights.

"We have so many more important things to be fighting for at this point in our world," Rubin said. "As a teacher, I'm seeing huge amounts of vacancies that should be at the forefront of our government's mind. Instead, they're taking away a vital part of a woman's right. We don't stand and let these things happen without having a voice because that's what makes us special. That's what makes us American."

Mitchell Soule attended the St. Petersburg rally to voice his anger with the potential ruling and support his fiancé.

"This just doesn't make any sense, from my perspective," Soule said. "Being out here, especially being a man … this isn't an issue that I think I can stand fully on top of and really tell somebody like her what it is that she can do. And it's just something that I really don't feel like it's my place. And from legal perspective, it also feels wrong."

 Abortion-rights activists gather outside the Pinellas County Judicial building to protest on Tuesday.
Octavio Jones
/
WUSF Public Media
Abortion-rights activists gather outside the Pinellas County Judicial building to protest on Tuesday.


In the leaked opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Congress should pass a law to codify abortion if it truly represents the will of the public. The courts had no authority to make that decision for the public, Alito wrote in the draft.

Some abortion rights supporters shared frustration with the inaction of Democrats in the face of Republican hostility to the 1973 Roe decision. Democrats held the House, Senate and presidency at the same time at various points in the intervening years.

“That’s one of the failures of the progressive movement of the last 20, 30 years – that even when there were electoral majorities in things like Congress or in state houses, that there was not a rush to codify, because it could be divisive,” said Shane Montoya, a pastor at the Miami Shores Community Church.

“It was kind of punted by many of our legislatures – both the Congress and in state legislatures – to the courts. That the courts would have to deal with it instead of many of our politicians taking a stand. This is an ongoing and repeated problem.”

But if anything could wake the party up to the stakes of the fight, the leaked opinion could be it, argued Mariana Kellogg, who was at the rally in Miami.

“We needed this fire under our butts to really pay attention to core values behind politicians, and: Let’s actually light it up and get people to actually pay attention to this upcoming election,” she said.

Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Daniel Rivero is a reporter and producer for WLRN, covering Latino and criminal justice issues. Before joining the team, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion.
Octavio Jones
Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.
Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.