On June 24, National Women’s Liberation, Gainesville Radical Reproductive Rights Network, and Planned Parenthood organized a demonstration outside the Alachua County Courthouse to protest the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, effectively ending abortion rights provided by Roe v. Wade. Below is the text of a speech given by Laura Blecha.
My name is Laura and I’m a member of the Gainesville chapter of National Women’s Liberation. We’re a grassroots, gender-affirming, radical feminist organization fighting back against male supremacy, white supremacy, and capitalism.
One year ago today, after the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, I was right here outside this same courthouse. I showed up with so many others to express our collective anger and outrage at this attack on our bodily autonomy, this repudiation of the will of the people and a half-century of precedent.
Bodily autonomy is a fundamental right. History and the lived experience of millions of people tells us that people will continue to have abortions no matter what the laws say.
It is not okay that people might have to risk their lives for their bodily autonomy, whether it is because they face unsafe conditions or criminal penalties. If someone is able to get pregnant, they must have the right to decide if they want to be.
So here I am again one year later, standing in the same place with all of you, and wow, has it been a year. Florida has now passed a near-total, 6-week abortion ban that has absolutely no medical rationale. Most people don’t know they’re pregnant by six weeks.
And this cruel abortion ban is just one of the many horrific laws rammed through the legislature this year. We’ve seen unprecedented attacks in Florida from DeSantis and his Republican legislative supermajority against reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, education, unions, immigrants, and more.
I want to speak directly to all the people who feel like things are hopeless right now in Florida: this is not the time to cower or admit defeat—now is the time for us to demand more rights! We were here last year, we’re here this year, and we are not going *anywhere* until we get justice!
Together we are powerful. You can choose to work with us in National Women’s Liberation, or the GRRR Network, or Planned Parenthood, or in another group. And you don’t have to have a lot of spare time to do this work— after all, who of us does? What’s important is for each of you to find a grassroots organization you can work with, become a dues-paying member, find your niche, and join the fight! None of us can afford to sit this one out.
Right now we have the chance to get abortion on the ballot in 2024. If we get 900,000 signatures statewide, the people will decide on a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion.
We need to show this administration, and the whole world that’s watching, that *we* control our own bodies—not the legislature, not DeSantis, not the courts.
We need to show them that they are not stronger than the will of the people, and that Floridians do *not* support their agenda. Polls show that if we get this referendum on the ballot, we will *win*!
Look around you and find one of the people carrying a clipboard – they can tell you how to get plugged into this ballot initiative and start getting signatures. In fact, if you can stick around after the rally today—even for 15 or 20 minutes!—we’re going to walk around downtown and get some signatures here tonight.
If you can’t stick around today, then please sign up as a volunteer, get on the mailing list, and join us as soon as you can.
I also want to talk about where this fight needs to go in the long run. Overturning these cruel abortion bans is not enough, and in fact, the protections we had under Roe were never enough, either.
What we need is reproductive *justice*. Reproductive justice includes the right not to have children, the right to have children, and the right to parent children in safe and healthy environments.
We demand reproductive freedom without restrictions or coercion. This includes easy access to the abortion pill, which accounts for fully half of the abortions in the US — we need to eliminate the restrictions imposed on the abortion pill by the FDA. Reproductive freedom also includes free abortion and birth control on demand
- We demand control over our own bodies and free, on-demand access to life-saving reproductive care!
- We demand universal healthcare
- We demand childcare, free like the public schools
- We demand paid family leave, and
- We demand affordable housing for all!
Being a parent is always hard work, but in this country, it is so much harder than it needs to be. We recognize that childrearing is not just an individual responsibility, but something that benefits us all.
That is one reason we demand universal programs to support us when we choose this work. These are not out of reach demands; most people in the industrialized world already have them; the U.S. needs to catch up with the rest of the world and stop rolling back the progress that we have made!
We pledge to fight for reproductive justice and to aid and abet abortion. How can you aid and abet abortions? This could include:
- Giving your friend or a stranger a ride to a clinic
- Giving them money to fund an abortion
- Saying words of encouragement in person, on the phone, or in writing
- Supporting and joining an organization doing any of the above
- Donating to an abortion fund
- Giving someone the abortion pill that was prescribed for you
- Sharing websites that provide the abortion pill by mail
- More actions too numerous to list
But first, we need to aid and abet abortion by getting it on the ballot in 2024! Help get abortion on the ballot by signing and collecting petitions.
So again, please look around you and find one of the people carrying a clipboard. Ask them how to get plugged into this ballot initiative and start getting signatures, and stick around after the rally if you want to get started right away!