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Miami rally voices anger, fear at leaked Supreme Court abortion decision

Activists gathered at Miami's Freedom Tower to voice anger at leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion rights.
Daniel Rivero
Activists gathered at Miami's Freedom Tower on Tuesday voiced anger at a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion rights.

“I’m super pissed, I’m just like get your hands off of my uterus, off of my body."

A year ago, Lauren Routt had an abortion. The 30-year-old lifelong Hialeah resident said it was a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life, in a positive way.

“It’s taken me a long time just to say the words ‘I had an abortion,’ it’s been a year and this is my first time kind of coming out and saying it outside of my immediate family,” she said.

On Tuesday, Routt was among dozens of activists and elected officials who gathered to protest and express anger over a Supreme Court opinion that was leaked in draft form. The leak, first reported by Politico, shows the likely overthrow of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and with it, nearly 50 years of abortion access in the U.S.

Routt wore a black shirt for the occasion that reads: “Thank God For Abortion.”

“I’m super pissed, I’m just like get your hands off of my uterus, off of my body,” Routt said. “I can’t stand to see this, it’s definitely emotional, but I have this fire and rage inside of me that we have to fight for the next generation to make sure that women, men, everyone has access to reproductive rights and we’re out here fighting every day.”

If the leaked draft opinion does go into effect, abortion would still be legal in Florida in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. That’s after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new bill last month.

But Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz warned the crowd that the leaked opinion opens the possibility that Florida could follow other states and institute a total ban on abortion in a post-Roe world.

“I barely slept last night. I’ve seen a lot of political upheaval in my career but I could not rest last night,” said Wasserman Schultz, fighting through tears. “We shouldn’t have to, but we must fight like hell to control the decisions about our own bodies. Because our lives depend on it. They really do, there are lives hanging in the balance over what we do here.”

Lauren Routte of Hialeah said Tuesday marked the first time she has been able to say publicly that she had an abortion last year.
Daniel Rivero
Lauren Routte of Hialeah said Tuesday marked the first time she has been able to say publicly that she had an abortion last year.

Activists fear a wholesale reversal of Roe v. Wade could return Florida and other parts of the country to an era when backroom, illegal abortion clinics were set up to circumvent restrictive abortion laws. Many women died while receiving these clandestine procedures, or by trying to self-induce an abortion by ingesting poisons or using other dangerous methods.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is vying to be the Democratic nominee for governor in November’s election, shared that her own grandmother once had to travel to Cuba to receive an abortion when it was illegal in much of the U.S. prior to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision.

“Every single time there was an election I was reminded of what was on the ballot, and that is our right to choose what’s best for ourselves and our families,” Fried said. “We are going backwards. So many lives are going to be lost if this opinion stands and we have got to make sure that we are voting like we have never voted before because there’s too much on the line.”

Fried vowed to protect abortion rights in the state if elected governor.

Despite decades spent running on the idea of codifying Roe v. Wade into law, Democrats at the federal level have never done so.

In the leaked opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Congress should pass a law to codify abortion if it truly represents the will of the public. The courts had no authority to make that decision for the public, Alito wrote in the draft.

Some abortion rights supporters shared frustration with the inaction of Democrats in the nearly 49 years since Roe v. Wade was written, in the face of steadfast Republican hostility to the Supreme Court decision. Democrats held the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the Presidency all at the same time at various points in the intervening years.

“That’s one of the failures of the progressive movement of the last 20, 30 years – that even when there were electoral majorities in things like Congress or in state houses, that there was not a rush to codify, because it could be divisive,” said Shane Montoya, a pastor at the Miami Shores Community Church. “It was kind of punted by many of our legislatures – both the Congress and in state legislatures – to the courts. That the courts would have to deal with it instead of many of our politicians taking a stand.”

“This is an ongoing and repeated problem,” Montoya said.

But if anything could wake the party up to the stakes of the fight, the leaked opinion could be it, argued Mariana Kellogg, who was at the rally in Miami.

“We needed this fire under our butts to really pay attention to core values behind politicians, and: Let’s actually light it up and get people to actually pay attention to this upcoming election,” she said.

Daniel Rivero is part of WLRN's new investigative reporting team. Before joining WLRN, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion. He can be reached at drivero@wlrnnews.org
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