Say No to Florida’s abortion ban! Fight for reproductive justice!

Sister Song, Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective issued on May 1 the statement reproduced below denouncing Florida’s six-week abortion ban which went into effect that day. Some background information is given here to explain the evolution of this repressive law and the devastating impact it will have in Florida and throughout the South – and to describe the fightback undertaken by  reproductive rights activists.

Demonstrators at the 2,000-strong “Rally to Stop the Six-Week Abortion Ban,” to launch the “Yes on 4” campaign in Lake Eola Park, Orlando, Florida on April 13, 2024.

The racist, sexist abortion ban was pushed by right-wing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, approved by conservative legislators and affirmed on April 1 by the majority DeSantis-appointed judges on the Florida Supreme Court.  Under this law, medical professionals who perform abortions in violation of the ban would face up to five years imprisonment.

However, abortion access activists, anticipating the ban, swung into action and began a petition campaign to put a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot, which would codify the legal right to abortion in the state constitution.  They collected well over the required number of 871,523 valid signatures (Ballotpedia), and succeeded in getting this amendment on the ballot.

If it passes,  Amendment 4 would allow abortions until 24 weeks gestation.  But it would require a supermajority of 60% of voters to pass it.  And that vote won’t happen for six months, which means this essential medical care will be denied to thousands of pregnant people during that period.

Florida was a refuge for abortion seekers from across the U.S. South where access is denied or extremely limited. In 2023, some 9,300 pregnant individuals traveled to Florida to obtain the procedure, comprising 11% of the year’s 84,000 abortion patients in the state. The closest state providing abortion access for those in the Southeast is now in North Carolina, which has a 12-week ban, with few exceptions and a three-day waiting period, an impossible requirement for many people.

The next closest state allowing abortion access is Virginia, which allows the procedure up to 26 weeks gestation, and has a few restrictions. However, Virginia is about a 12-hour drive from Florida.  But, without closer options, abortion seekers are already flocking there. Costs for travel, health care, child care and housing can run into thousands of dollars. This is a crisis for parents, workers, those with low incomes,  falling especially hardest on Black women and also significantly impacting Latiné and Indigenous people and migrants.

Abortion rights activists are on the move

Across the state, reproductive rights activists have been mobilizing, marching, rallying and petitioning since the ban was first proposed.  The “Rally to Stop the Six-Week Abortion Ban” drew 2,000 people to Lake Eola Park in Orlando on April 13 to kick off the “Yes on 4” campaign geared to getting passage of Amendment 4 in November.

At the same time, abortion access organizations are dispensing information about how to obtain abortifacient pills by mail, which can be administered at home – and telling abortion seekers about the nearest states that permit the procedure and their requirements. Abortion funders are scrambling to raise funds to help pregnant people travel out of state for this essential health care.

The main point is that there is organized resistance to this reactionary attack.  The slogans “Abortion is health care!” and “Abortion rights are human rights!” could not be more appropriate.

Sister Song’s May 1 statement on Florida’s abortion ban

“Today, Florida’s dangerous six-week abortion ban goes into effect. Once a sanctuary state for abortion care in the South, this ban leaves Floridians with even less access to care and will cause ripple effects across the region. Six weeks gestation is before most people know they are pregnant. Now, pregnant people will have to travel even further from their homes to access the care they need and deserve.

“The anti-abortion extremists supporting abortion bans do not care about our lives or our children’s lives. They just want to retain their power by controlling our bodies and our futures. We’ve watched over and over as abortion bans result in decreased access to any and all reproductive health care, increases in infant mortality rates, and greater economic insecurity in states across the country.

“Being forced to remain pregnant could have deadly consequences — especially for Black women, who are four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy complications in Florida. Horrifying realities like this make us fight even harder. Because people will still seek abortion. And we will not stop fighting for Reproductive Justice.”

Kathy Durkin

Kathy.Durkin@workers.org

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Kathy Durkin

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