Florida’s Abortion Ban Should Be Our Breaking Point


For nearly two years after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Florida was the last safe haven for people in need of abortions in the South. As of today, that’s no longer true.

It’s hard to adequately convey the devastation of a six-week abortion ban taking effect in one of the country’s most populous states.

Last year, one in three abortions in the South happened in Florida. Already this year, 1,300 people have traveled from other states to Florida to access abortion. As of today, if you’re more than six weeks pregnant and living in south Florida, the closest abortion clinic will be in Charlotte, North Carolina—a 14-hour drive away. Beyond 12 weeks and you’ll have to drive 17 hours to Virginia.

But it’s more than just math stopping people across the country in their tracks today.

It’s the reports of clinics being inundated with frantic patients at the beginning of this week, now forced to turn people away. It’s the sinking realization that the most personal health decisions are now in the hands of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Supreme Court. It’s the accounts of doctors like the one I met in Louisiana who described the helplessness of talking to patients who couldn’t afford to travel hundreds of miles, take time off from work, find childcare, and book a hotel room to access basic health care. It’s the knowledge that our daughters have lost a right that goes to the heart of their ability to determine their future.

It’s the panic, the fear, and the cruelty.

What’s happening in Florida right now—and what will continue to happen in the coming weeks and months—is a reminder that this is not some theoretical debate over an abstract issue.

As dire as the situation is for reproductive rights in this country, the truth is, it could get much worse.

Since Roe was overturned, Americans have been confronted with the very real consequences of abortion bans: child rape victims forced to give birth, miscarrying patients turned away from emergency rooms and told to return when they’re in sepsis, pregnant people forced to undergo unnecessary c-sections rather than receive abortions. In Texas, a young woman died because of the state’s abortion ban. In Alabama, IVF was put on hold after the state Supreme Court declared embryos to be “extrauterine children.”

The domino effect doesn’t stop there. Florida’s six-week abortion ban—like similar laws across the country—will create a drain on health care and education across the state. Again and again, we’ve seen that obstetricians are being driven out of regions hostile to reproductive health, and it’s easy to understand why—no doctor wants to live in a state where they can’t take care of their patients.

Abortion bans are making pregnancy care worse and threatening to exacerbate existing physician shortages, especially in rural areas. Not only that, surveys have found that medical students are less likely to apply for residency in states with abortion bans. And a recent poll found that abortion laws are overwhelmingly impacting high school students’ decisions about where to go to college, with 84 percent of students reporting that they don’t want to be without abortion access at school.

Laws like Florida’s don’t just affect people who need abortions—they shape people’s attitudes about whether they would ever consider making a home in these states.

As dire as the situation is for reproductive rights in this country, the truth is, it could get much worse.

This week, Donald Trump—who not only appointed the three justices necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade and opened the floodgates for what’s happening in Florida and beyond, but bragged about it—said he would support states tracking women’s pregnancies and prosecuting people for having abortions, and wouldn’t rule out a national abortion ban. The choice between this walking worst-case-scenario and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who are deeply committed to restoring reproductive freedom and rejecting attacks on abortion, is incredibly stark.

Here’s the good news (yes, there is good news): Thanks to all of the volunteers and organizers who gathered nearly a million signatures to put the issue on the ballot, Florida voters will have the chance to reject this abortion ban in November.

An overwhelming majority of Floridians (and a majority of Americans!) believe decisions about pregnancy are personal, which is why every time voters have had the chance to weigh in, abortion rights have won. To say the “Yes on 4” campaign—encouraging voters to support the ballot initiative protecting reproductive rights—has the potential to impact races up and down the ballot in Florida this fall is an understatement.

In the meantime, if you live in Florida, you still have options for abortion care.

Abortion providers in-state will continue to provide care before six weeks. After six weeks, you may need to leave the state to get care, or visit PlanCPills.org to get abortion pills by mail. No matter how you’re receiving care, abortion funds are here to help pay for your abortion, transportation, and other logistics. If you’re not sure where to start, Charley is an abortion chatbot built to provide confidential, accurate, and personalized information about all of your options.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Texas and Louisiana since they banned abortion. Which means I can unfortunately say from experience that we have only just begun to see the suffering Florida’s six-week abortion ban will cause.

With each new headline and heartbreaking story, Americans have a choice: Are we going to accept this as our nightmarish new reality? Or are we going to channel our righteous fury and do something about it?





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