For Immediate Release: 1/21/2021 Contact: TBAccessForce@gmail.com
Tampa Bay Access Force to Oppose Restrictions on the Right to an Abortion in Florida
(Tampa Bay, Florida) Tampa Bay Access Force is announcing their opposition to a new legislative bill which attempts to limit the ability to access an abortion in Florida, calling it a stealth attack on the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
At issue is Rep. Tommy Gregory’s (R-District 73) new proposal to limit abortion prior to the point of viability – which is generally believed to be at around 24-26 weeks gestation. HB 351 seeks to ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation, citing an erroneous and medically unsubstantiated claim that a fetus is capable of feeling pain at that point.
There is no scientific proof that a fetus can feel pain prior to the third trimester, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“Florida is currently the only state in the Southeast that allows later abortions, and is often a last resort for pregnant people who need care they are unable to access in other states,” said April McGrath, president of Tampa Bay Access Force. “We regularly assist callers who are forced to travel here because they are unable to legally obtain a termination in their home state, or Floridians themselves who need later term abortions due to medical complications with the pregnancy or fetus, financial, or logistical issues that made abortion impossible to obtain earlier in a pregnancy, or other reasons. These bills, if they pass, will shut off that last possibility for hope, forcing them to continue a pregnancy and give birth against their will.”
While limiting abortion access by a month or more is problematic on its own, even more alarming is the potential that these bills have to limit abortion even more in the future. The so-called “fetal pain” based ban provides language that could allow abortion to be banned as early as 8 weeks gestation should the U.S. Supreme Court ever rule that “pain” could be used as a criteria in which to ban abortion. Currently there are at least five justices on the bench who believe there should be no constitutional right to an abortion at all. Also concerning is the obvious intention to suggest a point of “personhood” for a fetus that could be seen by the state Supreme Court as superseding the patient’s right to privacy on which the right to an abortion is based.
The looming threat of this bill has led the Tampa Bay Access Force to draw together a coalition of local and regional organizations aligned with abortion rights and access to oppose its passage. “What happens if abortion access is restricted in Florida doesn’t just affect those who are in Florida,” said April McGrath. “It impacts people in need in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee. It impacts any state that has an earlier gestational ban on the books.
And, if the anti-abortion lawmakers in this state succeed in their end goal of undermining the state’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, it will effectively end any hope for accessible abortion in the entire Southeast. If Roe is overturned and state trigger bans are enacted, Florida alone will be left standing to provide legal care. That, in the end, is what these bills are really about – making abortion completely illegal from Texas all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.”
For more information, or to speak with April McGrath, contact TBAccessForce@gmail.com
The Tampa Bay Access Force is a 501c4 dedicated to political action to protect the right to abortion in the state of Florida.