Over 100 protesters pooled outside a Gainesville courthouse Tuesday evening to rally for abortion rights after reports that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
Julia Braver, a 19-year-old UF political science sophomore, stood among them, raising a sign that read “Abortion is Healthcare.”
Callback chants, like “When I say abortion, you say justice,” could be heard in the background as the crowd, including City Commissioner David Arreola and County Commissioner Anna Prizzia, grew.
Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida organized the protest outside Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Sr. Criminal Courthouse; it started at 5 p.m. Tuesday, one day after Politico published an article including a leaked draft ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting women’s rights to privacy and abortions without excessive government restriction.
“I don't think that my protesting, or any of the protesting right now, will stop the Supreme Court from actually passing the ruling that will overturn Roe v. Wade,” Braver said. “But I do think it’s important to make my voice heard and make all our opinions known.”
Braver said she thinks the Supreme Court and U.S. leaders should account for the majority of Americans who support Roe v. Wade and abortion access.
Though the draft is devastating, it will not immediately impact Florida, Kai Christmas, Planned Parenthood’s regional organizer, said. The only law affecting Florida is the 15-week ban that will be put into effect on July 1.
Other states have laws in place that would ban or restrict abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade falls. Christmas calls these trigger laws.
“It will be a state by state fight,” Christmas said. ”In Florida, we know it’s going to be a big fight because a tax on our reproductive rights has been ever present.”
Mark Harrington, president of the anti-abortion organization Created Equal, said though the overturn is expected to pass, it is not official until the vote is made.
Unless one of the majority justices change their vote, anti-abortion organizations will get the ruling they’ve wanted for over 50 years, Harrington said.
Harrington said Americans should have expected this decision for well over a year now. Several states have already pushed to severely restrict or ban abortions.
“I expect a lot of protests in the next several days and when the decision is handed down in June, but after that people will settle in and we’ll go about living in a post-Roe America.”
One protester, John Nunes, was concerned the Supreme Court will continue reversing previous court decisions, such as same-sex marriage and rulings against racial discrimation.
“They are not playing by our rules,” he said. “They're not playing by the rules they’ve told us they're playing by.”
Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, who represents parts of Alachua County in the Florida House of Representatives, wrote in an email that, though she never hopes for these decisions, they are no surprise.
Hinson said women should not be burdened with consequences of sexaul assault, abuse, date rape and incest.
“Poll after poll and year after year, voters have been clear; they overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom and Roe v. Wade,” she said.
Gainesville will see the decision’s impact on women in poverty and women of color, and the best way to prevent these outcomes is by voting, she wrote.
While Christmas thought the draft decison was unprecedented, she also wasn’t shocked by it; the right to safe, legal abortions has been under attack since 1973.
Final opinions have yet to be released and are not expected to be published until late June. Gainesville’s local Planned Parenthood is organizing a march for the cause May 14.
“This is just the beginning of what will be a long fight this summer,” Christmas said.
Contact Namari Lock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Namari_L
Namari Lock is a second-year journalism student and a General Assignment Reporter for the metro desk. This is her first semester at the Alligator, and she is eager to dive into whatever story comes her way. When she’s not working, she is probably sleeping or binging true crime documentaries.