The 90-degree heat didn’t keep away a crowd of hundreds from gathering to protest the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade, a law that protected abortion rights for Americans for 49 years.
In just a matter of hours, a pro-choice rally was organized and executed at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale on June 24. Holding up signs, a uterus made from orange pool floats, and donning activist tees, the group listened to elected officials and community organizers tell their abortion stories, share their frustration with the Florida legislature, and uplifting one another to keep moving forward.
“This isn’t the end and this sure as fuck isn’t the beginning,” said Emma Collum, the event’s organizer and the chairperson for Ruth’s List, a nonprofit that works to elect pro-choice women to office. “Half a century of progress has been reversed in less than 24 hours.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that the justices “turned women’s bodies into government property” and led the crowd in chants of “we will not go back.” Florida Sen. Lauren Book, an outspoken survivor of child abuse, shared her disgust when her colleagues in Tallahassee refused to make exceptions for rape and incest. Mary Eakins, the South Florida field organizer for Equality Florida, recounted how she became pregnant at 15 after being raped by a family friend and saved her lunch money to get an abortion.
Others in attendance included FL Sen. Tina Polsky, FL Rep. Daryl Campbell, Coral Springs Commissioner Nancy Metayer, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Sabrina Javellana, TransInclusive, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, and Florida Access Network.
With the constitutional right to abortion overturned, 13 trigger states are immediately moving forward to outlaw abortion. Speakers repeatedly reminded the crowd that abortion is still legal in Florida. However, come July 1, a new bill that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed will make abortions after 15 weeks illegal. Some speakers predicted that Florida would restrict or even ban abortions altogether in the upcoming legislative session.
FL Rep. Christina Hunschofsky told the crowd, “If you think that they’re not coming for you, you’re not paying attention. Remember how you felt today — they are banking on you forgetting.”