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Friday, April 12, 2024

Gainesville activists condemn Florida’s 15-week abortion ban bill

Organizers believe the bill harms reproductive health and rights

As Floridians wait for Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign an abortion banning bill, activist groups are organizing in retaliation, hosting protests and holding abortion information sessions.

This bill bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and has raised alarm among people with reproductive capabilities. The ban would allow for exceptions involving “serious risk” to the pregnant person and fetal abnormality with no exceptions for rape or incest. 

Now, the closest place for Floridians to access abortion after 15 weeks is North Carolina.

Jianna D’Addario, president of UF Planned Parenthood Generation Action, organized an event at the Civic Media Center to provide abortion information in Florida Wednesday. 

“We had that event to connect folks with resources so that we can all kind of have each other’s back as we try to navigate life under such restrictive policies,” D’Addario said. 

About 15 people gathered at the Generation Action presentation, which advised people with pregnancy capabilities to take pregnancy tests frequently and directed them toward local abortion providers like Bread & Roses and All Women’s Health Center. 

D’Addario assured attendees the abortion ban isn’t based on medically accurate information. 

“All it does is put pregnant people on a really strict timeline for when they can be able to make these decisions and when they can start accessing care,” they said. “For a lot of folks that’s already difficult, for communities of color, for queer communities … those communities already are receiving discriminatory health care.”

Nilufer Akalin, UF Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research lecturer, said the last several decades saw safe, legal abortion become more accessible to women globally. However, in the US, it seems legal frameworks are increasingly limiting access to abortion.

An abortion ban could also lead to clinic closures, which increases the travel distance to get an abortion, Akalin said. Those without financial capabilities or access to transportation for travel would struggle to access abortion care. 

“There has been all this work and also a feminist movement that liberalized access to abortion,” Akalin said. “What we are seeing in the US is a reversed direction.”

Texas, Arizona and Virginia implemented six-week abortion bans and Mississippi has a 15-week ban.

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“We’ve seen that historically these laws do not result in fewer abortions,” she said. ”They compel a woman to risk their lives and health by seeking out unsafe abortion care.”

The World Health Organization says lack of access to safe and timely abortion care is a critical public health and human rights issue. Each year, 4.7% to 13.2% of maternal deaths are because of unsafe abortion.

The WHO site lists unsafe abortion health risks such as haemorrhage, infection, uterine perforation and damage to the genital tract and internal organs.

Having a kid is a life changing event, Dr. Akalin said. People should be able to decide whether they are ready for this change.

The ban will impact working people, non-English speakers and those without the funds to get to North Carolina, D’Addario said. These barriers reinforce hierarchies of power within our society.

National Women’s Liberation, a feminist organization working for more freedom, opposes not only the Florida bill but all abortion bans. The organization is open to women and trans people who do not benefit from the patriarchy. 

Stephanie Kollgaard, chair of the NWL New York City chapter, said the group demands access to abortions and birth control without restrictions or coercion.

“This ban is beyond concerning,” Kollgaard said. “It’s devastating for people in Florida who need abortions.”

The bill, she said, is less about protecting fetal personhood or reducing infant mortality and more about controlling peoples’ reproductive lives.

This organization partnered with others like Planned Parenthood and Floridians For Reproductive Freedom to host speak outs and rallies against the abortion ban. 

As Floridians wait for DeSantis to sign the bill, NWL will flood his office with phone calls pressuring him to veto it, Kollgaard said.

The organization launched a pledge to aid and abet abortion in Florida. The pledge received the support of local groups like Alachua County Labor Coalition, which shared it in a newsletter. NWL is working to get signatures to send the pledge to the governor before the bill is signed.

“Just as an additional way of saying: ‘Hell no, we’re not going to stand for that,’” Kollgaard said. 

Contact Lucille Lannigan Follow her on twitter @LucilleLannigan.

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Lucille Lannigan

Lucy is a senior journalism major and the metro editor for The Alligator. She has previously served as a news assistant and the East Gainesville reporter for the metro desk as well as the health and environment reporter on the university desk. When she’s not doing journalism you can find her painting or spending time outside.

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