Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist joined the Women’s Advocacy Movement Abortion Justice Rally in St. Petersburg on Friday to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
BY JA JONES, editor
ST. PETERSBURG — The United States Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade rocked the country. The Florida legislature previously attempted to pass a six-week and 20-week abortion ban in 2021, and today’s vote all but guarantees Florida women will lose their right to choose.
Florida’s 13th Congressional District Representative Charlie Crist said, “We just saw the news that the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. This is a day of verification and heartbreak for women for reproductive freedom in our country. Without the protection of Roe v. Wade, radical governors like Ron DeSantis will try to ban abortion altogether. Don’t make a mistake. Governor Ron DeSantis is not on the side of women and reproductive freedom. Now more than ever, we must fight relentlessly to protect the right to choose against this governor’s next attacks. The stakes in this election could not be higher.
Crist, who is running for governor against Ron DeSantis, today received an endorsement from the AFL-CIO of Florida as the best hope to win against DeSantis. As of June 4, The Political Matrix/The Listener Group polls have Crist maintaining a slim two-point lead over DeSantis in the gubernatorial election.
Crist continued, “I believe in a woman’s freedom of choice. I believed as a state senator, I believed as a governor, and I believe he is now a congressman running for governor. That’s why I’m the only Florida gubernatorial candidate to propose concrete steps to protect women’s right to choose.
Crist maintained that on his first day in office, he would sign an executive order using the full weight of the governor’s office to fight and defend the right to choose.
“My executive order makes it clear that no agency in the State of Florida shall restrict or prevent women from making decisions about their bodies, women in Florida and across the country. I am firmly on your side. And once elected governor, I will do whatever it takes to protect your right to make decisions about your body. Now is the time to fight on behalf of all women, and I am proud to be your ally in this fight.
Responses from local women in the community and leaders were immediate.
Judith Scully, Stetson Professor of Law
Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court comes as no surprise. And sadly, this is only the beginning of the path that will lead the Court to dismantle and trample on the rights not only of women but of all categories of people who have been historically disenfranchised and marginalized. This Court does not appear to respect or endorse constitutional jurisprudence that truly embraces the concepts of equality and liberty for all.
In today’s decision, the Court strips women of federal protections of bodily autonomy and subjects our bodies to the total control of state governments. There is no real gender equality possible without recognizing our right to make decisions about our own bodies. The only way forward is to enact federal legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act that will provide nationwide abortion services and access.
Carla Bristol, director of St. Pete Youth Farm
This should further demonstrate the power of the vote. Rulings like this and more to come reflect the people in power and the lifetime positions of the Supreme Court. This sets us back several decades. We must act with deliberate intent and create greater value associated with our vote.
Bridgette Heller, Educator and Executive Director, Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation
I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I am prepared to do whatever I can to get the vote in a way that helps reverse this decision. Sadly, I believe this is a devastating outcome for black women. This does not mean that sisters who have decided to terminate a pregnancy will not do so. It just means that, as always, those who can least afford to have the procedure in a safe and healthy way will have the least access. It is heartbreaking to see that women continue to have to fight for voice and control over their own bodies, especially low-income women and, more specifically, low-income black and brown women.
Rapper and artist Nico Sweet
I find it awful that a group of men without a uterus can tell women what to do with their bodies.
Debbie Yati Garret, filmmaker
There should always be an urgent need to take stock of a proactive abortion program. There should always be an urgent need to take stock of a proactive abortion program. We know that abortions should not be a form of birth control; however, let’s take stock of what we have in place to prevent abortions. Will there be enough organizations to meet the needs of the communities? Will commercial and government insurance plans provide free birth control and counseling for Planned Parenthood?
I stand in the middle of the situation because I know horrible stories that resulted in negative birth outcomes. Many changes will be made based on this result. My biggest concern is whether our community is ready. As a city, are we ready?
Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, founder of Greater Reach Alliance of Christian Counselors and Educators
As a religious leader, I strongly believe in the sanctity of life. However, I believe that the reversal of this 50-year-old right for women to choose what to do with life in their own bodies is occurring in a dangerously toxic political/cultural climate. The social and emotional consequences will lead to further divisions. It is frightening to think of the other basic human rights that will then be challenged and defeated. The arch that bends towards justice has just been lengthened.
Faye Watson, community activist
The Court examines whether the right to obtain an abortion is rooted in the history and tradition of the nation and whether it is an essential component of “ordered freedom”. Guess what else isn’t “rooted in the Nation’s history and lore?” If you’re not sure, ask Clarence Thomas. I wonder how this nation will handle the consequences of this decision. Vote account!
Reverend Christie Hardwick
When we allow the government to take away the sovereignty of the individual to make medical decisions according to their own beliefs, we are no longer free. The Overthrow of Roe c. Wade is an attack on all freedoms for all American citizens. It’s not a woman’s problem. It is a question of human rights. We must stand firm because other challenges to our freedom are sure to arise. I love life, I love God and I trust women.
Joyce Woodson, Realtor
Elections matter! Our lives are dictated by a small, frightened minority who VOTE in every election, not just presidential elections. Perhaps the recent Supreme Court decisions will finally convince the majority that it is time for more of us to engage in the political process. Without full citizen engagement, we have no democracy; we have tyranny.
Karen Chassin, nonprofit leader
The decision to overturn America’s 50-year-old constitutional right to a legal and safe abortion is in stark opposition to the will of the American people, the majority of whom support Roe versus Wade. Three of the judges who made that decision were nominated by presidents who lost the national vote. Not only is this a crisis for women’s health and human rights, but it is a stark example of the failure of our democracy and the prioritization of a conservative minority.
Linsey Grove, LWVSP Social Justice Co-Chair
It is a reminder that despite decades of legal precedent, overwhelming support for abortion access and more than one in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime, ultimately those who are in power will do what they can to erode our civil and human rights. . They do this not only to control our destinies and our potential, but also to try to weaken our ability to build coalitions with those fighting for other causes and issues. Don’t get me wrong, this is as much a class issue as it is a race issue as it is a gender issue.
Dr. LaDonna Butler, Certified Mental Health Counselor
For those who have already experienced disrupted choices, this decision can be a traumatic reminder. People can feel mixed emotions. Joy of alignment of perceived religious or moral values. Anger due to disregard for personal choice. Fear, due to a potential slippery slope due to impaired respect for personal sovereignty, or a range of other feelings due to a range of other reasons. Including all identities, perspectives and feelings on this decision, everyone has feelings. It is important that we apply radical compassion and care when navigating these terrains.
Carrie Boucher, Executive Director, NOMAD Art Bus
It was never about babies or life; unfortunately, this decision is not surprising. Our nation’s history is rooted in maintaining a system where those with power can control the bodies of those with less power. Throughout our history, whenever progress is legislated to uphold justice in this regard, a backlash soon ensues that sets us all back. Anyone who is negatively affected by the system will need to listen to those who are most negatively affected. We must unite across differences if we hope to make progress.
Dr. Brittany Peters, Registered Clinical Social Worker
The quashing of Roe v. Wade and the opinion issued by Judge Alito are paralyzing and will have an extremely negative impact on the country. This decision further aggravates the conditions that contribute to the development of depression, anxiety and trauma in women. The decision seems politically motivated. To be clear, it’s not about babies. The death rate across America was the highest in over 100 years during COVID-19. Losing so many Americans was almost catastrophic for our economy. We see hard knocks in several sections of our society. This in addition to the low birth rate. Considering this, one has to ask – why now?