DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — The fate of Roe V. Wade and the future of reproductive rights have become key issues during this election year, especially in the Democratic primary for governor of Florida.
“Everything that we thought is settled law is on the chopping block,” Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor Nikki Fried told supporters outside Dunedin City Hall Monday evening.
Fried said gay marriage, interracial marriage and access to contraceptives will be at stake if the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi abortion law and overturns Roe.
State Rep. Michele Rayner (D-St. Petersburg) joined Commissioner Fried at this stop on her abortion rights tour that started after the rare leak of the majority draft opinion from the Supreme Court.
Rayner, a candidate for Congress, strongly opposed the bill passed by Republican lawmakers that bans abortions in Florida after 15 weeks with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest or human trafficking.
“We know that women of color, women who don’t have financial means are going to be most harmed,” Rayner said.
State Sen. Annette Taddeo is running against Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) in the Democratic primary for governor.
“I never thought I’d see the day when women’s rights would be stripped away,” Taddeo said after the leak from the Supreme Court. “As a mother, I’m terrified for my daughter and her generation who might lose safe access to vital care. Now more than ever it’s urgent to elect a governor who will protect a woman’s right to choose.”
After the Supreme Court leak, Congressman Crist called on lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to codify Roe v. Wade.
“As a member of the House of Representatives, I proudly joined my colleagues in voting to make Roe v. Wade law, but now it’s time for the Senate to act,” Crist said in a statement. “The Senate must take this up immediately, and if need be, end the filibuster to ensure its passage. The time to fight on behalf of all women is now.”
In recent weeks, Fried’s campaign has attacked Crist for statements on his abortion stance during his political career.
“As female bodies are being attacked by Republican led states, Charlie Crist has the audacity to admit that he’s ‘still pro-life,'” Fried’s spokeswoman Caroline Korba said in an April statement. “Charlie is clearly trying to play cute on abortion and it’s just insulting to anyone with a brain — and dangerous to anyone with ovaries.”
During a press conference in Fort Myers last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis called the leak of the majority draft opinion “judicial insurrection.”
When he recently signed the 15-week abortion ban into law Gov. DeSantis proclaimed, “this will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation.”
Pro life groups are staging their own demonstrations since Politico first reported on the draft opinion authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito.
“You’ve got myriad of opportunities if you can’t parent,” one woman at the Stop Abortion Now rally in St. Petersburg told News Channel 8. “You’re not forced to parent. There are thousands of couples waiting for babies.”
Florida’s Democratic voters will decide who will go up against Gov. DeSantis in the November General Election during the Primary Election on August 23.