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Tampa Bay reproductive rights groups react to SCOTUS draft opinion on abortion

People sit on stairs outside, holding signs saying such things as "Vote" and "Never Again." An American flag flies behind them.
Octavio Jones
WUSF Public Media
Abortion rights activists sit gathered on the stairs of the Pinellas County Judicial building during a rally Tuesday in St. Petersburg.

Abortion rights advocates in Tampa Bay say, no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling is, they will continue to fight for safe access to the procedure.

The fallout to the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade is reverberating across the country.

Abortion rights advocates in Tampa Bay say they will continue to fight for safe access to the procedure.

The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund is an all-volunteer reproductive rights advocacy group. The organization said on Tuesday alone, 19 people called seeking financial help for an abortion, multiple others asked for transportation to a clinic, and one person had to cancel an appointment due to lack of child care.

The organization's McKenna Kelley said these kinds of barriers exist even with federal protection.

"And if what's in this memo is true, if this opinion does stand, when the ruling ultimately is issued, it will only be more difficult for them to access that abortion care," she said.

And Kelley says the group is gearing up to help clients access abortions in other states when Florida's recently passed 15-week limitgoes into effect July 1.

"Currently those are Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Illinois. So, if they need assistance paying for flights or Uber's or Lyft's, we can help fund that. Floridians have already been dealing with attacks from their state government on their freedom to abortion. We just saw the 24 hour delay go into effect, which has had an enormous impact on our clients, our clinics and our operations."

Stephanie Fraim, president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said her staff is devastated by the news of the Supreme Court draft memo.

"And (they're) trying to understand frankly, what it means that our highest court in the land and our government doesn't respect the health care that they provide every day," she said.

Fraim added that if the court overturns the constitutional right to abortion, there is nothing stopping individual states from enacting severe limits on the procedure, and it's conceivable that further restrictions could be enacted in Florida beyond the 15-week limit.

"Particularly with this leaked memo coming out, and every indication that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe and undo 50 years of precedent, I think we wouldn't be surprised to see the Florida legislature try and outlaw abortion as quickly as possible here in Florida."

Fraim said it's also important for people to understand that abortion is still legal in Florida — for now. The Supreme Court has not yet officially ruled on Roe, or the Mississippi law that triggered the abortion question before them.

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