Protesters gather at an anti-abortion rally on the steps of the Historic Florida Capitol building on May 24, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown
Dozens of protesters gathered at the Florida Capitol complex Tuesday to urge legislators to support additional restrictions on abortion access, with signs saying, “End abortion in Florida FOREVER” and “Supreme Court: Overturn Roe.”
The Florida Legislature had already approved a 15-week abortion ban during the regular 2022 regular legislative session, with Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the bill into law in April.
But on Tuesday, the anti-abortion group called Voice for the Unborn pushed for more.
Andrew Shirvell, founder of the group, encouraged protesters to lobby legislators for “a special legislative session to consider the most robust protections possible for our unborn brothers and sisters.”
He did not provide specifics but added: “We will be doing lightning-rod rounds — so we can’t get into a debate of how we’re going to structure the exact bill. That’s all — God will take care of that. We’re here for big picture items. The big picture is to make this issue the preeminent issue of our day, at the forefront of our elected officials’ agenda here in Tallahassee,” Shirvell said.
The demonstrations in Tallahassee come at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court could rule imminently, following a recently leaked draft opinion indicating that the high court could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortions nearly 50 years ago. If that happens, states would be the decision makers when it comes to the abortion front.
Just recently, abortion rights protesters were in Florida’s state capital in support of upholding abortion access and Roe.
On Tuesday, the anti-abortion protesters were at the Capitol, starting with a small crowd of about 15 people. Later in the afternoon, the crowd grew up to about 50 people.
Three lawmakers attended the rally for a bit.
One was Rep. Webster Barnaby, a Republican who represents part of Volusia County on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. During the 2021 legislative session, Barnaby filed a Texas-styled abortion bill that would have prohibited abortions after about six weeks and relied on civil lawsuits for enforcement.
Barnaby promised the crowd outside that he would be the legislator “that will ban abortion for life.” His comments were heavily spiritual, often referencing biblical scripture.
“Everybody here today needs to have the courage of young David to fight the giants, because there are giants in the land killing our children here in these United States,” Barnaby said.
Rep. Randy Fine who represents part of Brevard County, referred to unwanted pregnancy as an “inconvenience.”
“The life of the child has to go above the inconvenience of the individual,” Fine said. “And if there’s anything unfair about the entire debate, which I hate, I wish we, men, had to shoulder it as well. It is unfair, because we can say this, we are not the ones who have to deal with it,” Fine said.
Rep. Dana Trabulsy, who represents part of St. Lucie County, attended but did not speak at the event.
The group also went down to the 4th floor of the Capitol building, holding signs and chanting “Special session for the unborn.”
Shirvell reiterated once again to call for the anti-abortion special session.
“Now is the time. Now is the day,” Shirvell said. “We’re not messing around.”
Phoenix reporter Issac Morgan contributed to this post.
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