Anti-abortion activists arrested in Fort Myers; In Capitol, lawmakers pursue 15-week abortion ban

By: - January 27, 2022 3:14 pm

Planned Parenthood protests in Fort Myers. Jan. 27, 2022. Credit: NBC2

As state lawmakers hold a second committee hearing today on a 15-week abortion ban, a Planned Parenthood health center in Fort Myers was disrupted by protesters opposing abortion rights, leading to several arrests.

Anti-abortion protesters blocked patients from entering the health center and refused to move during the protest Thursday morning, said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

“This morning, an anti-abortion group, tried to invade our health center in Fort Myers and blockaded the entrance to interfere with our patients ability to access health care,” Fraim said in an email to the Florida Phoenix. “The safety of our patients and staff is always our top priority, our health center staff followed protocol and kept everyone safe.”

Several of the protesters were arrested and taken into custody in Lee County, in Southwest Florida, Fraim added.

According to an incident report from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a “disturbance” occurred at the Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers at 8:51 a.m., resulting in arrests. Though no other details have been released, the Phoenix is awaiting a response from the sheriff’s office regarding the arrests.

“We are thankful for law enforcement’s quick response, to our knowledge nine arrests have been made so far,” Fraim said. “When we talk about ‘care— no matter what’ this is what we mean: today, our patients will continue to receive the high-quality, compassionate care they need. Our health center is open.”

Anti-abortion protesters at the center said they were willing to be arrested to voice their concerns about abortions, according to NBC2, a television station in Fort Myers.

Meanwhile, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried continued the fight against the abortion ban that has been moving in the state House. Fried is a Democrat and a top elected official in Florida. She also is a gubernatorial candidate in 2022.

In a video released today, Fried called the HB 5 legislation an “extreme bill.”

She said, “It will take away a woman’s freedom to make decisions about our bodies and our futures.”

HB 5 will be heard in its second committee hearing today, in the House Health Care Appropriations subcommittee.

Several advocacy groups on both sides of the issue surrounding women’s reproductive rights are expected to speak during public testimony concerning the controversial bill.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.