The traveler | Local activists hold rally for International Women’s Day, reproductive rights

Last Sunday, members of various activist groups came together for a rally in honor of International Women’s Day and in support of reproductive rights. The rally, which took place at Plaza Ferdinand in downtown Pensacola, grew out of a collaborative effort by three groups and drew dozens of spectators, including those passing by on their way to other activities.

With banners in hand, members of the Pensacola Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Defenders of Dreams and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) surrounded the WD Chipley monument in support of what they call a fight for women’s rights.

“For me, Women’s Day is about honoring the legacy of more than a hundred years of fighting for women’s rights, whether it’s the right to vote or the right to reproductive autonomy, including access to control of the fertility and abortion,” said Sarah Brummet, a PSL member who served as MC for the event.

The rally comes after a bill was recently passed in the Florida Senate to effectively ban women from having abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for victims of rape, incest or human trafficking. Under the bill, abortions would only be possible if a doctor declares that terminating the pregnancy could save a woman’s life or prevent substantial and irreversible damage to an “important bodily function.” Other exceptions include a fetus that has a fatal abnormality or has not yet developed sufficiently.

Originally introduced by state Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, the bill has drawn backlash from those who accuse its creators of inserting personal religious positions into the legislature at large.

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Grall contends otherwise, saying the bill is based instead on progress made in the field of science.

“This is not about religion,” Grall said. “These are advances in genetics and related fields that make it clear that a new and unique human being is formed at the moment of conception.”

Critics of the bill, now known as the “Reduction of Fetal and Infant Mortality” law, see it as an attack on women’s rights, asserting that the decision to continue or abort a pregnancy is solely in the hands of women. the woman.

“I believe that each person should have the freedom to be who they are for themselves. What they do with her body should not be dictated by men or anyone else.”

— Pensacola Dream Defenders chapter member, Karoline Nova

This sentiment was initially cemented in the case of Roe v. Wade, which was passed in 1973 after a Texas woman tried to have an abortion but was prevented by the state’s abortion laws. The landmark case, after three years of proceedings, would consider abortion restrictions “unconstitutional” and allow abortion up to 24 weeks (about 5 1/2 months) of pregnancy.

Since Roe v. Wade, the act of abortion has been a heated debate in several states. The state of Mississippi is currently embroiled in ongoing legal proceedings (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) over a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, an act that could potentially overturn Roe v. Jackson. Wade.

Many supporters of Florida’s new legislation, which is quite similar to Mississippi’s, see the bill as “supportive of life” and not entirely restrictive of women, who they say will still have plenty of time to make up their minds.

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“The only thing we ask in this bill is that whatever decision you make, you make it before 15 weeks,” said Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia.

For those attending the rally, the bill serves as a reality check, reflecting the failure of officials on both the right and left to ensure equality and freedom for all.

For Travis Cummins, a member of the DSA, the efforts to reduce personal freedom are openly shown through this bill. Cummins says the bill falls short of the “pro-life” title commonly used in campaigns by some of the country’s leading right-wing Republican and Christian groups.

“It’s become a political symbol for them to be able to say they care about life,” Cummins said. “But it seems they only care about fetuses, not actual human beings.”

Opponents like Brummet say bills like this are often “patriarchal” in nature and leave women with only one option: fight back.

“I think women have a choice, and that is to organize and fight and organize militantly in the streets,” Brummet said.

As of March 3, the bill is in the hands of Governor DeSantis and, if signed, will go into effect on July 1.