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Tampa Bay reacts to Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

Protests and celebrations popped up throughout the area.

10 Tampa Bay, Associated Press, TEGNA

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Published: 6:35 PM EDT June 24, 2022
Updated: 12:22 AM EDT June 25, 2022

Around Tampa Bay, demonstrators showed up in both protest and celebration of Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the court ruled 6-3 to back Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. The decision paves the way for state lawmakers across the country to create stricter abortion restrictions or outright bans in their states.

In 13 states, so-called "trigger laws" had already been designed for this moment —  ready to ban abortions immediately or shortly after the decision. "Trigger laws" aside, roughly half the states are expected to either ban or severely limit abortions as a result of this ruling.

Florida doesn't have a "trigger law," but it is a state that will draw attention.

In Florida, a 15-week abortion ban was already scheduled to take effect in July. However, Friday's decision by the nation's highest court may lead Florida lawmakers to push for more restrictions in a future legislative session.

While polls have shown a majority of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the state is still deeply divided on the subject. That divide was evident during demonstrations Friday around the Tampa Bay region.

People expressed both outrage and joy over the Supreme Court ruling.

At North Straub Park in St. Pete, both pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators gathered to react to the ruling.

"This court has failed us," Planned Parenthood Tampa regional organizer Elizabeth Baker said in opposition to the Supreme Court ruling. "We must have the freedom and the power to control our bodies and our lives. It is a fundamental human right."

A pro-abortion demonstrator said she was protesting the Supreme Court's ruling because of a friend's experience.

"I almost lost somebody who was pregnant and they needed an abortion, not because they weren't ready but because they had a tumor and the pregnancy was feeding the tumor," Cheyenne Cheila said.

On the other hand, anti-abortion demonstrators said Friday's ruling shocked them. 

"I was stunned and at the same time just incredibly excited," Scott Mahurin said, "I never really thought the day would come."

Mahurin is part of the St. Petersburg group, Florida Preborn Rescue.

"We're trying to protect the most vulnerable among us, which are the preborn babies of our nation," he added.

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