Lavina Khan’s heart broke when she heard Roe v. Wade was overturned Friday. Her mind flooded with worries about her family members and everyone else who has a uterus; she feared they had lost control over their bodies.
The next day her heartache turned to fury as she held a sign that read “My coochie, my choice” alongside about 1,000 protestors outside the Stephan P. Mickle, Sr. Criminal Courthouse in downtown Gainesville for about three hours Saturday. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, abortion was banned in some capacity in more than 11 states, and trigger laws — abortion bans states began to enforce immediately after Roe v. Wade overturns — allow 12 other states to quickly ban or restrict access to them.
Khan, a 20-year-old UF psychology junior, said two family members needed abortions in the last three decades. One did not have the financial stability to raise a child and the other faced medical complications that could have ended both the mother’s and baby fetus’ life.
“You don't know what people are going through, and they might be in specific circumstances that don't allow them to have kids,” she said. “They might want to in the future or they might not want to at all, and it's not fair for someone else to make that decision.”
Brooke Eliazar-Macke, a 38-year-old Gainesville attorney, froze in her seat when she heard the news.
Doubts swarmed her mind. She had to reread the article before reality set in: She lost her right to an abortion.
“There's fire in your belly to continue the fight,” she said.
Eliazar-Macke helped organize the courthouse protest with the National Women’s Liberation Gainesville chapter, giving people a platform to talk about the overturn of the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision.
The NWL posed two questions to Gainesville protestors: “What do you personally need to achieve reproductive justice?” and “How has this SCOTUS decision affected you personally?”
Protestors left the courthouse to march. They passed the State Attorney's Office on their way to the Community Pregnancy Clinic, a crisis pregnancy center in midtown.
Crisis pregnancy centers are often made to look like health clinics, but are not, said Kai Christmas, the 25-year-old regional organizer for the southeast and north Florida chapter of Planned Parenthood. They wrote that unlicensed establishments, including some CPCs, don't have to abide by HIPAA.
The decision was a victory for anti-abortion activists.
“I was very thankful, obviously,” Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal, said. The public outreach organization played a role in introducing the first heartbeat bill in the nation in Ohio.
Americans are still conflicted on the topic of abortion, Harrington said, and that won’t change overnight.
The overturn of Roe v. Wade is one step of many, Harrington said. The Constitution should be amended, he said, to protect the unborn under the Fifth and 14th Amendments.
Created Equal is not counterprotesting pro-choice demonstrations, but it is conducting outreach on the streets of Washington D.C., Harrington said.
Chanae Jackson, the co-founder of Florida Forward Coalition, north central Florida’s people-powered progressive coalition, revved up the crowd with her speech about the mortality rate amongst Black children. The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women, according to the CDC in 2020.
“I am tired of us having an abortion conversation while [Black people] are still dying from basic childbirth,” she said.
Communities must collaborate with each other to advocate for reproductive rights, Jackson said.
Protestors fought for everyone whom the overturn affects, Christmas said, which includes most women, trans people, non-binary folks, gender nonconforming folks and the BIPOC community. “All of these issues are intertwined,” Christmas said. “We have to show up for each and every single one of them.”
Anushka Dakshit is a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies major and the general reporter on the University desk of The Alligator. She started out as an arts and culture reporter at The Avenue and hopes to pursue arts and culture reporting and print magazine journalism in her career. Along with The Alligator, she is one of the Print Editorial Directors of Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, she likes to listen to old Bollywood music, read and obsess over other writers’ processes whenever she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often).