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The Fight Isn’t Over: Voter Mobilization for Abortion Access in Florida with So-Far Success

Posted by Sara Cooper | Aug 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

The reversal of Roe v. Wade had really became a divisive tool on many vulnerable Americans to move from their hometown into a more protective area that didn't criminalize a person's right to an abortion. Red states had immediately shut down clinics, and reproductive care organizations expanded their funds to assist those that couldn't afford transporting themselves to another state for services or having access to abortion pills and contraceptives.

Even a year later, it still feels like a game and you don't know what loopholes that can give backlash on yours or someone else's body. In Florida, they are not giving up.

Advocates in the state located in the southeastern United States have been working tremendously hard to make their home one that can be a place to not be determined as “legally pro-life.”

According to NPR, “The state bans most abortions after 15 weeks, but this fall, a Florida Supreme Court decision is expected to trigger a six-week ban passed by the Republican-led state legislature earlier this year.”

Grassroots efforts are strongly working on a permanent protection of a right to an abortion up to the point of fetal viability. With advocates and public supporters in consistent attendance of being outside of Florida's historic Capitol building for a constitutional amendment protecting access to abortion, the hope of making this an actual reality has greater chances than anticipated. This fight is occurring all throughout the state of Florida, and the energy to get signatures is still rolling.

NPR reported that, “In Orlando, after an on-stage call out from Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore, 1,300 people signed onto the effort. In Clearwater, a woman brought petitions to her choir practice and in Naples, another woman sought support from her book club.”

"What we're seeing is that the volunteer component of this is absolutely massive and is going to garner us hundreds of thousands of petitions," says Lauren Brenzel, Campaign Director for Floridians Protecting Freedom—the group leading the push for the amendment.

There has been a collection of almost half a million signatures so far, with a million as the goal. To get a proposed amendment on the ballot for the 2024 election, a total of 891,523 signatures are required even though there is a high chance some will definitely get thrown out from the thoughts of organizers.

Floridians Protecting Freedom are getting voter mobilization assistance from more than a dozen advocacy organizations such as ACLU and Planned Parenthood, with more national support expected when the measure has passed a state Supreme Court ballot language review. 60% of voters for the November 2024 election would need to vote yes on this measure in order to change the state constitution.

Simultaneously, a proposed amendment introduced by abortion opponents in Florida is also moving forward. This measure would block abortion access for the entire state, but so far, there is only around 16,000 people whom have signed the petitions for approval.

Headed by Mark Minck, a state chairman of Protect Human Life Florida and was also adopted, his goal of “protecting unborn life” has never changed despite the changes in abortion access since starting on this legislative process in 2018.

Minck says he has a lot in common with the people fighting to protect abortion access: Both sides want to amend the state constitution, both want help from voters to get their movements passed and both are responding to "discontentment with the Florida Legislature."

"If we fail and we're not approved, at least we spoke on behalf of pre-born human lives that can't speak for themselves," he says.

With the support of this proposed amendment being much slower than the one reproductive rights advocates are fighting for, Minck is in total awareness of the progress not making much of a move. According to NPR, “He credits that in part to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which energized those in support of abortion access.”

Abortion rights are not being undermined on both sides of the political spectrum anytime soon, and the election next year will have one of the most impactful effects on our social and political climate for the long foresee future.

In 2024, please educate yourself on the ballot measures, and go out and vote!

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