ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Pro-life and pro-choice advocates closely watched Wednesday, December 1 as Supreme Court Justices met in Washington DC to hear arguments in a case that evaluates the constitutionality of state-level abortion bans. It’s the biggest legal challenge to Roe v. Wade in nearly 50 years.
The decision could have major implications across the United States, including in Florida.
Groups on both sides spent the day working to make their voices heard. Wednesday night, a group of pro-choice advocates rallied outside of the St. Petersburg Judicial Building.
Earlier in the day, pro-life advocates held prayer vigils and hoisted signs outside of a women’s health clinic on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
Robyn Powell of Stetson University College of Law says Mississippi is under the microscope now, but a lot will hinge on the Supreme Court’s decision.
“No matter which side you’re on, everyone is looking at this case. If Roe v Wade is overruled, which is what the state of Mississippi is asking for, several states including up to 26 could immediately end abortion in their states,” Powell explained.
That’s concerning for Amy Weintraub of Progress Florida. “I’m so worried that the people who have not much to begin with are going to be left even more behind because they will no longer be able to control whether or not to start a family or to grow their family,” she elaborated.
Weintraub also believes if Florida restricts abortions, women may be faced to travel for the procedure, which could overwhelm clinics in other states. “It’s very, very stressful to think about how far people will have to go to get the care they need when they need it,” she said.
Susan Dwyer is s pro-life advocate and sees the Supreme Court’s action as a major opportunity for states to regain the power to create their own abortion laws.
“We haven’t had this opportunity in so long. I almost want to cry thinking about it. It means a lot to us,” she explained adding that she has helped many women decide against abortions in Florida over the past 20 years.
Scott Mahurin of Florida Preborn Rescue believes we’ve learned a lot more about fetal development since Roe vs Wade was decided in the 1970s.
“Now we know much more about fetal life, scientifically when life begins and all the different things that happen with conception including a heartbeat at 9 weeks. All these things are on the table now that weren’t in 1973 and we believe Roe V. Wade was wrongly decided,” Mahurin said.
Wednesday’s hearing comes about a month after the Supreme Court heard challenges to Texas’ abortion law, but that case doesn’t have the ability to overturn Roe vs Wade like this case does.
With three new justices on the Supreme Court, the future of reproductive rights is taking center stage across the nation.
The Supreme Court justices are expected to make a ruling sometime between March and June.
Advocates on both sides plan to increase rallies and prayer vigils to ensure their voices are heard.