Tampa, FL – On Sunday, January 22, a coalition of Tampa activist groups led a 150-person march across downtown for reproductive rights. The 50th anniversary of of Roe v. Wade became a nationwide day of action rather than a day of celebration due to the Supreme Court overturning nationwide abortion rights last June.
“It was great to partner with some wonderful organizations to get folks out here on the 50th anniversary of Roe. To really make a statement and let our elected officials know that we’re not going to sit back quietly while they strip us of our reproductive freedoms,” said Heather St. Amand, west central Florida regional director of For Our Future Florida and an organizer of the march.
In addition to the overturning of Roe last year, Florida had a 15-week abortion ban signed into law. The ban has no exceptions for rape or incest. Despite this ban, those in southern states where abortion is illegal travel to Florida for access. Protecting the right to abortion in Florida will affect the south as a whole.
After speeches from a variety of groups, protesters marched across downtown Tampa, chanting, “Not the church, not the state! People must decide their fate!” and “When abortion access is under attack, what do we do? Act up, fight back!”
More attacks on abortion in Florida are likely this year. Despite a legal appeal that suspended the 15-week abortion ban, Governor Ron Desantis overturned the court order less than a week later. When State Attorney Andrew Warren spoke against enforcing abortion bans, the Desantis administration removed him from office and appointed a Republican state attorney. A U.S. district judge this January ruled Warren’s removal was illegal but is unable to enforce the decision because of jurisdictional issues.
Florida’s next legislative session begins in March. With a right-wing majority in the state after the 2022 midterms, the pressure from activists is needed to keep abortion legal.
St. Amand said they “will be getting folks engaged by directing them to the different groups that are heading up to Tallahassee to speak to legislators about this.”
Fifty years after Roe v. Wade, the fight to protect abortion continues. It’s a struggle that has not been forgotten since the Supreme Court decision.