Two rallies were held Wednesday in Northeast Florida in support of abortion rights.
The rallies come after a draft opinion was leaked this week, suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Women’s March Jacksonville and other groups held a rally at 6 p.m. outside of the Duval County Courthouse. The organization said in a news release that it is demanding that Congress pass legislation to codify Roe.
“While I was surprised at the leak, I wasn’t shocked at the message in the leak because it’s very clear the direction they’re trying to take the country,” said demonstrator Bonnie Hendrix.
At least 100 people were at the rally when News4JAX was there, some of whom were holding signs saying “my body, my choice.” Both people for abortion rights and against abortion were in attendance. There were also people registering to vote at the rally.
One woman who applauds overturning Roe v. Wade told us she regrets the abortion she had.
“I would have had a son that’s 46 years old now, and he could have changed the world,” said Anna Coulter, a demonstrator. What could he have done, you know?”
“People will always have abortions,” said Judy Sheklin, with National Organization for Women. “The question is, whether they’ll be safe and legal. And certainly this hits marginalized women much more hard, much harder.”
In St. Johns County, another rally with women’s groups was scheduled for 5 p.m. near the St. Johns County Courthouse. People held signs, including one that said “keep abortion safe and legal,” and another that said “girls just want to have fundamental rights.”
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“We think it’s wrong to take the rights of women that have had the right to make a decision of their own bodies and their freedom,” said Lisa Katz, a demonstrator.
She and others said this fight isn’t new.
“We’ve been fighting already. I mean, it’s already happening in Florida with the 15-week, so, these signs are left over when we were fighting that bill,” said Rebecca Davis with the Democratic Women’s Club of St Johns County.
The leaked draft, published late Monday by Politico, is a 98-page opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the constitutionality of the Mississippi bill that banned abortion after 15 weeks. If the decision stands as written, it would overturn Roe, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that protected abortion services even though it allowed states to add some limitations.
Until now, the court has allowed states to regulate but not ban abortion before the point of viability, around 24 weeks.
Polling shows relatively few Americans want to see Roe overturned. In general, AP-NORC polling finds a majority of the public favors abortion being legal in most or all cases. Few say abortion should be illegal in all cases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.