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With giant IUD in background, lawmakers push for abortion rights in Tampa

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With giant IUD in background, lawmakers push for abortion rights in Tampa

Jun 21, 2024 | 4:43 pm ET
By Mitch Perry
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With giant IUD in background, lawmakers push for abortion rights in Tampa
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St. Petersburg-based Democratic House Rep. Lindsay Cross in Lykes Gaslight Park in Tampa on June 21, 2024 (photo credit: screenshot from Americans for Contraception)

A group of female Democratic lawmakers spoke up for reproductive rights on Friday in Tampa, just days before the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that for almost 50 years protected the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

The event was sponsored by Americans for Contraception, which brought a 20-foot inflatable IUD to similar press events in Washington, D.C., and Miami in recent weeks and plans to do the same in Tallahassee on Monday, the Dobbs anniversary.

Speakers at the press conference decried the failure of recent votes in the U.S. Senate attempting to provide nationwide protections for in vitro fertilization and reinforce Americans’ access to contraception, both of which fell short of the 60 votes required to move under the filibuster rule.

And their aim was targeted toward Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, running for a second term this fall.

“While Rick Scott has said, ‘Oh, no,’ he supports IVF, his record does not match his rhetoric,” said Tampa Bay area Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. “Twice he has voted against in vitro fertilization. Rick Scott, we’re not going to let you get away with it.”

Scott has said he supports IVF and has released two statewide television ads touting his advocacy for the medical procedure. He defended his opposition to the Democratic-sponsored IVF bill by telling WPLG Local 10 in Miami this week that the measure would “take away religious freedom.”

St. Petersburg Democratic House member Lindsay Cross said that “underlying” the crackdown on reproductive freedom is “a desire to control women’s bodies, to control women’s futures, and to control women’s freedoms.”

“We simply won’t stand for it, and we will fight tooth and nail to get back our freedoms, to protect our reproductive rights, and to ensure that every young girl growing up in this great state and this great country has the freedom to live her life with liberty and to pursue her own happiness and prosperity,” she said.

Hillsborough County Democratic state Rep. Susan Valdes noted how a Democratic-sponsored measure introduced in the Legislature (SB 1446) dubbed “Access to Contraception” never received a committee hearing in either chamber this year.

“They will not stop in limiting just abortion and those reproductive rights,” she said of Republicans. “They will push their extremist agenda in controlling women’s bodies as far as they can. It is imperative to ensure that contraception remains protected.”

Democrats are pushing hard this election year for passage of Amendment 4, which would restore the right to an abortion up until the point of viability. As of May 1, the state has banned most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking but only up to 15 weeks, and only if the pregnant person has copies of “a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation” to prove they are a victim of rape or incest.