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Abortion rights activists will rally this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Hundreds of people holding protest signs and yelling chants.
Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
Hundreds of people gathered in Joe Chirulla Courthouse Square in downtown Tampa last May to protest the leaking of a draft opinion indicating that the court would overturn Roe.

It's been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion, and seven months since the court's now conservative majority struck that down.

This weekend, rallies will be held in Florida and around the country to put the spotlight back on abortion access.

Since the law was overturned last summer, the abortion care landscape in the country has changed dramatically. Some states have banned the procedure outright, while others have set strict limits.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law in July which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks with only a few exceptions.

An appeals court in August tossed out a temporary injunction that would have blocked the new law.

Citing Florida’s constitution — which contains an explicit privacy clause that protects individuals’ right to privacy, including abortion — a coalition of groups have asked the Florida state Supreme Court to hear the case.

Meanwhile, this weekend will see demonstrations across the state.

A march In Orlando is being led by Democratic State Representative Anna Eskamani.

"We are living in a country where half the population has lost their rights," she said. "As we mourn that reality and reflect on the state of abortion across the country and here in Florida, we also realize that Roe was never meant to be the ceiling it was the floor. So, this is a moment for us to fight back collectively. We are going to reflect on the end of Roe but also paint what a vision is for the future, one where bodily autonomy is not a question, it's a norm."

Florida's Republican-controlled legislature last year approved the 15-week ban.

There are exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman's life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

The Senate's incoming president has said she would like to see the state's ban on the procedure reduced to 12 weeks, while anti-abortion activists are pushing for even tighter restrictions.

"We know DeSantis is anti-abortion," Eskamani said of the prospect of more limitations. "But the question is, what pressure does he feel from the right to act on that because he knows that banning abortion is unpopular in this country and in Florida."

While Governor DeSantis has said he will “work to expand pro-life protections,” he has not commented on specifics.

"We also have to remember that DeSantis never campaigned on banning abortion," said Eskamani, of the Governor's November victory to a second term. "He actually avoided the subject as much as he could. So, we have to bring the fight for abortion access to the front steps of the Capitol to ensure that he cannot avoid this conversation."

Vice President Kamala Harris will also deliver remarks on the 50th commemoration of Roe v. Wade with a speech in Florida on Sunday.

The Biden administration says Harris will push for national legislation to protect reproductive rights.

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