Florida After Roe v. Wade: ‘Women Are Being put in ‘Very, Very Dangerous Situations’

Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

By Giselle Balido

June 22, 2023

On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark piece of legislation that made access to abortion a constitutional right. As Floridians face the potential consequences of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ impending six-week abortion ban, they continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose.

Anya Cook had suffered multiple miscarriages, but was on her 18th pregnancy last year when her water broke early, at 16 weeks. Doctors told the Florida woman that her baby wouldn’t survive without amniotic fluid and would die within days.

But because of the 15-week abortion ban currently in effect in Florida, the experience “very, nearly killed” her.

“Because [the baby] was beyond 15 weeks and there was still a heartbeat, they couldn’t touch me or treat me or admit me,” Cook said during a roundtable with First Lady Jill Biden on Wednesday. “They sent us home to deal with it ourselves.”

Cook said she became convinced that she wouldn’t survive and went to a “really dark place.” Within days, her daughter was stillborn in the bathroom of a beauty salon. Cook had lost half the blood in her body, was weak and underwent multiple follow-up surgeries that left her fertility in doubt.

“We don’t know if I can get pregnant now or carry to birth, but the target of our wrath is very well-known: It’s the people who have taken our human rights to health and liberty and personal autonomy,” Cook said. “Someone needs to fight back against these insidious laws in states across the country.”

Controlled by Conservatives

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave decisions about abortion access to states, more than a dozen states have completely or mostly banned abortions.

In Florida, where Cook lives, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president in 2024, signed into law a bill approved by the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The six-week ban will take effect only if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge that is before the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservatives. 

RELATED: Post-Roe Abortion Bans Have Led to Devastating Outcomes for Women, Study Finds

The six-week ban contains some exceptions, including to save the woman’s life. Abortions for pregnancies involving rape or incest would be allowed until 15 weeks of pregnancy. However, a woman would need to provide documentation, such as a restraining order or police report. 

‘A Scary Time’

Critics of the ban say the narrow window in the bill would amount to a “near-total” ban on abortions in the state. Many women, they say, don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks. 

“It’s a scary time,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book.  “Women are being put in very, very dangerous situations to get the healthcare they need and deserve.”

“Women’s health and their personal right to choose is being stolen,” said Democratic Rep. Felicia Simone Robinson. “So, I ask: Is Florida truly a free state?”

Opponents also pointed out that the ban would also impact the nearly 15 million women of reproductive age who live in abortion-banning states throughout the South.

“Many of [these women] have previously relied on travel to Florida as an option to access care,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

A March poll by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, found that 75% of registered Florida voters polled either strongly or somewhat opposed the ban, including 61% of Republicans.

RELATED: DeSantis Signs Florida GOP’s 6-Week Abortion Ban Into Law

The Fight Continues in Florida

Despite the right-wing shift of Florida politics in recent years, supporters of reproductive freedom continue to fight to protect abortion rights.

“In the course of just two generations, we’ve seen our rights won and lost,” says Leader Book. “It is up to us to get them back. No one is going to save us but ourselves.”

In an effort to place a constitutional amendment protecting abortion access on next year’s ballot, a coalition of abortion and civil rights groups in May launched an effort to put constitutional protections for abortion on Florida’s ballot in next year’s election. The ballot initiative seeks a state constitutional amendment to bar restrictions on abortion before fetal viability, considered to be at about the 24th week of pregnancy. 

The groups behind the effort include Planned Parenthood affiliates, the ACLU of Florida, Florida Rising and Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida. More than 891,589 signatures are needed to qualify for the ballot. They face a Feb. 1, 2024, deadline to get signatures to the state. The Florida Supreme Court will also need to approve the proposed ballot wording. At least 60% of voters would need to approve the measure for it to pass.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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