One year since Roe was overturned, Floridians reflect on what's changed
Florida implemented one abortion ban after Dobbs and plans to enforce even stricter restrictions, pending a lawsuit. Abortion rights supporters in the state say that has caused fear and endangered lives.
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending decades of federal protections for abortion rights in America.
The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization gave states the power to determine abortion policy, and while some have since opted to expand access, others like Florida, have restricted care.
“We had an influx of calls, people coming in and saying they weren’t even sure if they were able to get an abortion because they thought it was illegal now,” said Schickler, the chief medical officer for the nine health centers that make up Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
“So a lot of fear, and a big influx of patients in general because they were very nervous about what was going to happen next after Dobbs,” she said.
Where Florida's abortion laws stand
The Supreme Court's decision allowed a 15-week abortion ban to go into effect in Florida last July that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest. It was modeled after the Mississippi law that spurred the Dobbs case.
Neighboring states like Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee went further, implementing near total bans.
Demand for services at Planned Parenthood clinics around Florida has surged in the last year.
“Patients are just like on this ticking clock to try to get their care, and are getting pushed further and further into pregnancy to try to find someone who can provide that care,” said Schickler.
Complicating matters is another Florida law implemented last year that requires patients have two in-person appointments to get an abortion, first for a consultation and then again for the procedure at least 24 hours later.
It’s been hard to accommodate everyone, said Schickler, even with her centers expanding services.
“You know, ‘hard’ is an understatement,” said Schickler. “That we as providers – I specifically trained for this for several years, and the state is telling me how to perform my job – really that I shouldn't be performing my job. And that's hard.”
More stress for people who don't want to get pregnant
To prevent pregnancy, some women, transgender and nonbinary people have changed their method of birth control in the last year, like Tallahassee resident Michela.
The recent college graduate is in her early twenties, and asked to go only by her first name because she fears expressing her views on abortion could affect job opportunities in Florida.
“It's been a lot, like I remember I got an email that Roe had been overturned, and I just sat there like crying,” said Michela.
Michela had been taking birth control pills, but worried if her schedule got disrupted and she missed a day they wouldn't work as well. Hormonal birth control pills require people to take them around the same time each day in order to maximize their efficacy.
So a few weeks after the Supreme Court ruling she saw her OB-GYN and asked to switch to a birth control implant that lasts three years.
It took months of discomfort for Michela’s body to adjust, but she says the peace of mind is worth it.
“I don't know how to explain to people who cannot get pregnant the amount of fear that I have,” she said. “I have a lot of health issues, I never want to be pregnant, so like, it's a very high stakes issue for me.”
Michela says she marked the Dobbs anniversary on her calendar to remind herself to reflect on reproductive rights. She stressed that she's ultimately privileged: she has access to birth control and says if she did get pregnant, she would have the means to get an abortion elsewhere if she couldn't in Florida.
Others don't have the same resources.
Why abortion bans hurt Black Floridians most
“When I think about Roe v. Wade, and that being overturned, I think about all the women who are going to die, point blank period,” said Nancy Metayer-Bowen, the city of Coral Springs’ first Black and Haitian American female commissioner and a leader with the statewide abortion rights coalition Black in Repro.
Black women in America are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They are also more likely to seek abortions.
Racism in health care, less access to health insurance and higher rates of poverty contribute to both of those issues.
If Florida’s six-week ban is allowed to go into effect, Metayer-Bowen says more Black women will be forced into pregnancies that could threaten their health and livelihoods.
“People are not going to be able to thrive, and to sustain themselves, which will affect our economy,” she said.
Advocates and health care professionals formed the coalition Black in Repro ahead of the Dobbs decision to help address Black women’s concerns when it comes to reproductive health care.
“There is a missing narrative in the reproductive justice space, it's a very white-led space, it’s a space where oftentimes Black voices aren’t being amplified,” said Metayer-Bowen. “So this was important for us to amplify those voices, really break down the stigmas around access to abortion care, access to reproductive health care and what that means in the Black community.”
The coalition is partnering with other organizations to support Floridians Protecting Freedom, a campaign to get a question on the 2024 general election ballot.
Dobbs left it up to states to decide abortion issues. Advocates say they hope voters choose to expand access.
Floridians can access reproductive health care resources on the state's regional Planned Parenthood websites:
You can contact Planned Parenthood for appointments at 1-800-230-7526.
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