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Millions fled to South Florida seeking freedom. For some, the end of Roe feels like betrayal

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Kate Payne
/
WLRN
Abortion rights supporters took to the streets across South Florida to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion.

For generations, South Florida has been a place where people have come to escape undemocratic governments and to seek freedom and equality. For many of the region’s residents, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday overturning the constitutional right to an abortion felt like a broken promise.

Abortion rights supporters took to the streets throughout South Florida to protest the decision — and the unequal consequences it will have.

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MIAMI

Standing on the corner of Northwest Third Avenue and 26th Street in Wynwood, Victoria Vega yelled into a megaphone.

“¡Nuestras familias no vinieron a este país para que tuviéramos menos libertades!” Vega said as the crowd roared. “Our families did not come to this country for us to have less freedoms!”

That feeling of betrayal was at the forefront for the hundreds of people who marched in Wynwood Friday night. More than half of people in Miami-Dade County are foreign-born, according to the U.S. Census.

They took to the streets carrying signs that read “abortion is healthcare” and chanting “my body, my choice!” and “¡mi cuerpo, mi derecho!”

Nathalie Fleitas and Elvia Sanz marched together. Fleitas’ family is from Cuba and Sanz’s is from Colombia.

“As the children of immigrants we believed that this country is where you came for your rights and for your freedom,” Fleitas said.

“My dad just became a citizen like two weeks ago, right? And this is not the country he signed up for, to coming to for us,” Sanz said.

Sanz is worried this is just the beginning. Other historic court rulings are in jeopardy — like the one that legalized same-sex marriage.

“They're gonna go for LGBT+ rights, which affects me personally with my sister. I want to see her get married to whoever she wants. And I don’t want this to be a step backwards for her, you know?” Sanz said, her voice thick with emotion. “So that's what I'm scared of. That this is just the first step of what’s going to happen next.”

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Kate Payne
/
WLRN
Abortion rights supporters say that many Americans are already living in a post-Roe reality, because access to the procedure is so unequal. By leaving the issue up to individual states, the Dobbs decision will exacerbate those inequities.

FORT LAUDERDALE

Hundreds of people gathered in Esplanade Park to voice their anger. Some speakers focused on those who will be most affected by this decision.

Aurelie Colon-Larrauri is a policy advocate at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

“Communities pushed to the margins have already been living in a post-Roe reality,” she said, pointing out that access to abortion is already so unequal.

“White people with financial means will always have access to abortion care,” she said. “Folks without financial privilege, folks in the working class who cannot take multiple days off work, folks who cannot afford child care need to be centered in these conversations.”

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Kate Payne
/
WLRN
Many abortion rights supporters are fearful that this is just the beginning. Based on the Dobbs decision, other landmark court rulings could be in jeopardy, including the one legalizing same sex marriage.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Broward County characterized the court’s decision this way:

“They just ruled for millions of women, that the state will now dictate when you can have a family. They said women do not control our own bodies, the state does,” she told the crowd.

Wasserman Schultz, like many of the elected officials who spoke, put the focus on voting.

“But let me tell you right here, and right now, November is coming,” she said. “And we will not go back.”

DELRAY BEACH

Ellen Greenwald is one of a hundred people who gathered in front of Old School Square in downtown Delray Beach — and she was furious.

“I’m 82 years old. I’ve lived through the march and the fights to have the right to control my body,” she said.

Thirty-seven years ago, Greenwald got pregnant unexpectedly. She considered having an abortion, but ultimately decided against it. She later miscarried. But she’s grateful she had a choice — and she hopes her grandchildren will have the same.

“This is not America,” Greenwald said. “It’s not the America I grew up with and love.”

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Yvonne Bertucci zum Tobel
/
WLRN
Millions of Americans now have fewer rights than their mothers had. For people who can get pregnant, their bodily autonomy will be determined by their geographic location and their ability to travel to states where abortion is not outlawed.

Twenty-year-old Michele Lulic felt disappointed she didn’t see more young people in the crowd.

“It’s ridiculous that people who are my age and younger aren’t here protecting their own rights," Lulic said. "It’s going to affect us more than women who are maybe older.”

Meanwhile, a pickup truck circled the block of protestors. The bed of the truck had been transformed into a double-sided Trump billboard displaying the slogan, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”

Each time the truck drove past, the protestors turned their backs.

Kate Payne is WLRN's education reporter
Gerard Albert III is back in Broward, where he grew up, after reporting on crime and public safety in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and West Palm Beach. Albert is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University.
Yvonne Bertucci zum Tobel discovered public radio during a road trip in 1994 and has been a fan ever since. She has experience writing and producing television news. As a freelance reporter for WLRN, she hopes to actively pursue her passion for truth in journalism, sharpen her writing skills and develop her storytelling techniques.