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Pinellas County protests call for abortion rights protection

Pinellas County protests call for abortion rights protection
Pinellas County protests call for abortion rights protection
Posted at 10:04 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 23:15:11-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — State Representative Michele Rayner said Tuesday didn't get off to a great start.

"I woke up mad, angry, sad," she said.

This comes after a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, on a major abortion case, was leaked. Based on the contents of this first draft opinion, many are concerned that the court will eventually vote to overturn federal abortion laws.

To help process her emotions, Rep. Rayner organized a protest outside of the courthouse in St. Petersburg.

"For me, it was really important for people to come and be able to express their frustrations," Rayner said. "I was doomscrolling on Twitter, I saw all of it and I said 'What can I do? I can't just be silent and still in this moment.'"

More than 100 people came out to the event, to join Rep. Rayner in her call for abortion rights protections.

They are people like Theresa Frost, who told ABC Action News she's lived in St. Petersburg for several years.

"This is not only important to me as a woman, some days, but as someone who in my family had an unsafe abortion in Mexico when she was 16, she could never have kids again," Frost said.

Beyond the chanting and speeches, there was a bigger message from Rep. Rayner — who called on the crowd to mobilize and take their concerns to the polls in upcoming mid-term elections.

"We have one of the most consequential elections that are coming up and we have to make sure that people are ready for that election," she said.

A block away, another abortion rights protest popped up in St. Pete. It briefly took over Central Avenue as the group called on leaders to protect those rights.

They're demonstrations that Florida Gulf Coast University law professor Pamella Seay said will make it harder for Supreme Court justices to do their jobs and they prepare to make a final decision in that abortion rights case.

"There's public outcry and the justices cannot avoid hearing that," she said. "They're going to be bombarded with information."

Due to the public attention this case has gotten after the leak, Seay also says that she believes the court's final decision will be put off — at least for a little while.