Stop the Bans protesters rally in St. Pete for abortion rights amid rollbacks across U.S. – Tampa Bay Times

Stop the Bans protesters rally in St. Pete for abortion rights amid rollbacks across U.S. - Tampa Bay Times
Abortion-rights activists rally at Supreme Court to protest new state bans
ST. PETERSBURG — The rising number of states restricting abortions brought about 250 protesters to the St. Petersburg Judicial Building on Tuesday.

“Our bodies, our choice” they chanted at the “Stop the Bans” rally for abortion rights, which was led by Progress Florida in partnership with Pinellas NOW and the St. Petersburg League of Women Voters. Similar rallies were held throughout the nation on Tuesday, including in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Across The Country, Protesters Rally To Stop States Abortion Bans

Protesters, some wearing bonnets and long red dresses inspired by the novel and TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, gathered early at First Avenue Ave N and Sixth Street N. Cars honked along First Avenue N and the crowd cheered back in support, waiving signs such as: “My body my choice,” “Women’s rights are human rights" and “Mother by choice, mother for choice."

How did we get here? Carol Sanger, the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and author of About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in the 21st Century, traces the slow dissolution of Roe back to the 1992 Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the basic right to an abortion, but expanded the states ability to intervene in abortion decisions from the moment of conception onwards in the name of protecting a womans health and the potential life. Roe established a right to abortion until the point of fetal viability, generally determined at 24 weeks of gestation. But Casey made a new test, allowing for regulations on abortion before fetal viability so long as the restrictions dont create an undue burden on someone—a test that has been harder to meet in court.

How often does the Supreme Court overturn precedents like Roe v. Wade?

Some women brought their children. A few men were spread out among the crowd. Nearly all searched for patches of shade during the hot lunch hour.

The local and national rallies were inspired by Alabamas recent passage of a total ban on abortion, which was signed into law on May 16. The state now has the strictest abortion law in the nation, which makes performing abortions a felony crime at any stage of pregnancy, with almost no exceptions.

Republicans see an opportunity under the Trump administration to push unconstitutional legislation forward with the hope that a conservative Court will take up Roe. But the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging Georgias recent heartbeat bill, Missouris eight-week ban, and will challenge Louisianas six-week ban, if enacted, does not expect these bills to be enacted as law. Legislators who are hostile to abortion rights see this as an opportunity to get a different answer to the same question,Elisabeth Smith, Chief Counsel, State Policy and Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Jezebel. But We fully expect that none of these six-week bans will ever be enforced. No six-week ban has ever been enforced.

Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have passed laws that prohibit abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — about six weeks, before many women learn they’re pregnant. Missouri and Louisiana are close to enacting similar bans.

The bans passed by Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri are likely too extreme to muster support from the Supreme Court. Rather, incremental restrictions like the ones Sanger mentioned—20-week abortion bans and requiring admitting privileges—are more likely laws to reach the court as a challenge to Roe. I actually think the challenge to Roe will come with ostensibly milder measures that will let the courts find cover in seeming not to be extreme even though these laws can have the extreme effect of destroying the abortion infrastructure and cutting off access for most women, Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, told the New Yorker.

Florida was one of the only Republican-controlled states in the country not to pass an abortion ban this legislative session, according to Ashleigh McGuire with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

As Republicans aggressively dismantle abortion rights, the Trump administration has also been targeting contraception and same-sex marriage by pushing abstinence-only education, allowing employers to opt-out of birth control coverage, and allowing health care providers to deny service to LGBTQ people. These attacks will intensify if Roe falls, Murray warns. Youll see more frontal attacks. If there is no right to abortion, how can there be a right to same-sex marriage? The same kind of liberty logic that protects a right to an abortion is the same liberty logic that protects the right to marry a person of the same sex.

“The integrity of our Constitution and our autonomy over our own bodies is under attack,” state Rep. Jennifer Webb, a St. Petersburg Democrat, told the crowd. “This is not a new battle.”

Pro-Abortionists Held A #StopTheBans Rally Outside The Supreme Court. Heres What Took Place.

Other Democrats also attended, including Mayor Rick Kriseman and state Rep. Ben Diamond. They mingled with the crowd and thanked people for taking the time to participate.

These restrictions are unconstitutional because they undermine the key provision of Roe that established the right to an abortion until the point of fetal viability. But as Sanger noted, after Casey, which changed the litmus test from fetal development to an undue burden, its become much easier to impose restrictions on abortion before that 24-week mark. Upholding one of these bans would undermine the main tenets of Roe.

Other speakers included Rev. Andy Oliver of the Allendale United Methodist Church and Linsey Grove, president of the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg area.

Sami Gustafson, 31, attended with her two twin boys, just shy of 3 years old. She’s been to protests before and believes attending is even more important now that outright bans on abortion are being passed.

“I think it’s really important that women maintain the right to their own bodies, to their own lives, rights and choices,” Gustafson said. “If you’re not prepared and not in a position to take care of children, you shouldn’t be forced into it.”

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None of the laws have taken effect, and all are expected to be halted while legal challenges work their way through the courts.

States across the nation are passing extreme laws that violate a womans constitutional right to choose. These bills are a blatant attempt to overturn Roe v Wade. Its wrong. Its pernicious. We must #StopTheBans and ensure this choice remains between a woman and her doctor.

Anti-abortion activists hope two new conservative justices nominated by President Donald Trump will provide the votes needed for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

That prospect infuriated protesters in St. Petersburg. Some held back tears and shook with emotion when they talked about the subject.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar at #StopTheBans rally: “And no matter peoples views, I think they can agree on one thing- we want to reduce abortions. How do you do that? By making contraception available and certainly you dont take away the civil rights of Americans.”

“I believe the assault on abortion rights is outrageous,” Tim Fleishman, 74, of Oldsmar said. “Elections have consequences, and we should never forget that. Were suffering from the results of the elections of 2016.”

Deb Camfferman, 64, of St. Petersburg, has in the past stayed home rather then attend rallies. But her growing concern that the country is at a tipping point for abortion rights brought her out to her first rally on Tuesday.

.@SenBooker: To all the men who are here, we MUST wake up more men to join this fight. NOT just because we have daughters and mothers and wives. But because this is an assault on human dignity, on freedom. ?????? #StopTheBans

“As I understand it, this is the worst point in history since Roe v. Wade,” Camfferman said. “I think its important we keep showing support and making our voices heard.”

U.S. must ensure access to safe abortions: U.N. rights office

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday took no action on appeals seeking to revive two restrictive Republican-backed abortion laws from Indiana, even as debate rages over a new measure in Alabama that would prohibit the procedure almost entirely.

Neither Indiana case was on the list of appeals on which the court acted on Monday morning. The court could next announce whether or not it will hear the cases on May 28.

If the nine-justice court takes up either case, it would give the conservative majority an opportunity to chip away at the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide and recognized a right under the U.S. Constitution for women to terminate pregnancies.

One of the Indiana laws requires fetal remains to be buried or cremated and bans abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus. The other law requires women to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 18 hours before they undergo an abortion.

Both Indiana measures were signed into law in 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indianas governor and were struck down by federal judges the following year. The state of Indiana is appealing to the Supreme Court.

The Alabama law was signed by Republican Governor Kay Ivey last week but is not set to go into effect for six months. It would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Exceptions would be allowed only to protect the mothers health. Doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

The Alabama law was written with the assumption that it would face legal challenges and could ultimately end up at the high court.

Conservative activists have long denounced the Roe v. Wade decision and hope that the conservative Supreme Court justices, who hold a 5-4 majority, will undermine or even overturn it.

Their chances of success were given a boost last year by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had backed abortion rights in two key cases. Kennedy was replaced by President Donald Trumps conservative appointee Brett Kavanaugh, who has a thin record on abortion.

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states. Four governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.

Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, who has voted against abortion rights in previous cases, are seen by legal experts as the key votes to watch.

The high court has two other abortion cases on its docket that it will also act on in the coming months – attempts by Alabama and Louisiana to revive other previously blocked abortion restrictions.

Posted in St. Petersburg