The potential overturning by the U.S. Supreme Court of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide could quickly impact Florida abortion rights.
A draft opinion suggesting the high court could overturn the ruling was published Monday, and if becomes the official ruling could alter abortion access in Florida and other states.
ROE V. WADE LATEST
Florida is already set to ban most abortions after 15 weeks under a law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.
"We are here today to defend those who can't defend themselves," the Republican governor said at the signing. "This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation."
The new law, which takes effect July 1, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
Under current law, abortions are allowed in Florida up to 24 weeks.
Those on the anti-abortion side of the issue see the potential Supreme Court ruling as a huge victory.
But for people on the abortion rights side, who were furious when Florida’s measure was signed into law last month and furious again after the draft ruling was leaked, there's concern that even stricter measures could be coming in the state.
Officials with Planned Parenthood in Florida said they're paying close attention.
"The Florida legislature has passed abortion restrictions every single year for the past 10 years and I can see them attempting to do more and so everybody needs to say stay vigilant, we need to vote, elections matter," Planned Parenthood's Laura Goodhue said.
Anthony Verdugo, the founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition in Florida, agrees with overturning Roe and said the power should go back to individual states.
"I think that the issue of abortion is an issue of human rights, and nowhere do we ever consider the human right of the unborn," Verdugo said. "Abortion will not be illegal in America, it will still be legal in the states that choose to allow it."
Speaking at an event in Fort Myers Tuesday, DeSantis said it was still too early to tell which way the court will go but said he would support overturning Roe.
"I'm somebody that believes in pro-life protections, I think that it's something that is based in science, I think it's something that is based in kind of who we are as a society," DeSantis said. "I think if you look at what some of the other states are doing, going in a much different direction, where they will have one day before a baby's born allow it to be snuffed out, nine months in, and I'm just thinking to myself, how is that something that would ever be viewed to be appropriate."
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat and one of several who are running to challenge DeSantis later this year, appeared at a protest in Miami Tuesday.
"When women all across the country are gathering, are protesting, are speaking out, we have to do better and know that this fight is not over, this fight is just beginning," Fried said.
Democratic State Sen. Annette Taddeo, also running for governor, also spoke out Tuesday in Miami.
"We are at a horrible moment, historic in a very backwards kind of history way that we are experiencing in our country," Taddeo said. "I never ever thought I would see the day that this would happen that we would actually be taking away women's rights, from millions of women across the country."
Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist, who's also running for governor, tweeted about the draft opinion ahead of a planned rally in Pinellas County.
"It's been a gut-wrenching day for women and reproductive freedom in our country," Crist tweeted. "Right now, Congress must take action to codify Roe v. Wade into law before reproductive rights are ripped away from millions."
At least one activist group has planned a "Reproductive Freedom" rally in Fort Lauderdale for Tuesday evening with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Senator Lauren Book and others.
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