Pro-choice groups will rally for abortion access and reproductive rights in St. Petersburg
Saturday's rally mirror hundreds being planned across the country in response to a Texas law which prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Pro-choice advocates will hold a march and rally in St. Petersburg on Saturday to protest recent anti-abortion laws.
Organizers say the events are in response to new abortion restrictions in Texas, which ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically about six weeks into pregnancy.
Pro-choice advocates argue that the ban threatens the protections under Roe vs. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortions.
A bill modeled after the Texas law was recently filed in Florida ahead of the next legislative session which begins in January.
Amy Weintraub, the reproductive rights program director at Progress Florida is one of the organizers of the St. Petersburg rally.
She says it's a critical time for the pro-choice movement in Florida.
"We are very concerned because of the overtures that have been made by the leadership of both houses,” she said. “Both of them have come out and said that they are interested in this abortion ban legislation. For them to be speaking out so early is a real cause for alarm."
Legislation that would have prohibited an abortion if a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat failed during Florida's 2019 legislative session.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, signed a bill into law in 2020 which requires a minor to receive parental consent to terminate a pregnancy.
Earlier this month, the Manatee County Commission voted 4 -3 in favor of requesting legal advice from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on whether the county can adopt a local abortion ban.
Weintraub says abortion restrictions mostly affect people who are already vulnerable.
"They are people who are young, people of color, people who are struggling financially, or who face other barriers to healthcare like being uninsured,” she said. “Those are the folks that really suffer and polling shows that the vast majority of Floridians believe that once someone has decided to have an abortion, they should be able to access that care with respect and dignity, yet the legislators act like that's the opposite and they advance an anti-abortion agenda year after year.”
The Bans Off Our Bodies” march and rally in St. Petersburg is scheduled at Vinoy Park Saturday at 4 p.m.