NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – In response to last week’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, more than 100 activists participated Saturday in a “March for Reproductive Rights” from Atlantic Boulevard and Third Street to Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach.
Heather Weidle said she organized Saturday’s march out of frustration with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
“My children and my grandchildren are going to have fewer rights than we had,” Weidle said. “It’s just unbelievable to me that this happened. But now we have work to do to make it right.”
A ban on abortions after 15 weeks is in effect currently in Florida. But a Florida judge ruled the state’s ban on the procedure is unconstitutional because it violates the privacy provision of the state’s constitution, based on an amendment voters approved in 1980. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will appeal.
The judge’s temporary injunction is expected to take effect once a written order is signed at some point next week.
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According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Guttmacher Institute, almost 80,000 women got abortions in Florida in 2021. More than 4,800 women traveled from another state to Florida last year to get the procedure.
Only New York and Illinois have higher rates of abortion.
Jessica Wannemacher, a Jacksonville Planned Parenthood manager, said the number of patients seeking care has doubled since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Wannemacher said that number has gone up from 30 to 40 patients a week to now between 65 to 70.
People seeking abortions have traveled hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of miles to Jacksonville for its services, according to Wannemacher.
“This past week alone we saw over 40 patients that had traveled from multiple states in the country, including Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas,” said Wannemacher.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, five states immediately banned abortion following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Those states include South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Alabama.
Eleanor Ascheman, an anti-abortion advocate who is the president of Students for Life, is among those who say there are other options and resources available, instead of abortion.
“We are seeing a shift in what each state wants, which is kind of how it should be,” Ascheman said. “We are electing representatives who are representing our views and what we want. So you are seeing, like Florida representatives that want a pro-life state. Our right to medical privacy is very different than our right to abortion, so I think that it [the injunction] will get appealed. I think it will get overturned.”
Students for Life is launching a multi-city abortion-free campaign.
“We are here for you,” Ascheman said. “If you have ever experienced an abortion there are so many resources for you and you are not ostracized from a pro-life group.”
Both Weidle and Ascheman say voting is going to be a difference-maker.
Ascheman said she believes in the last six months of this year, more anti-abortion legislation will be proposed and passed.
At the same time, Planned Parenthood will continue to increase its staff.