May 14 Pro-Choice Rally Held Against Roe v. Wade Draft


Melanie De Jesus, Reporter

Editor’s Note: 5/25/22 9:32:00 pm: Sources added. Moved article from “Opinion” to “News” as corrections were made.

A rally of over one thousand citizens against the banning and restriction of abortion in states across the U.S. happened on Saturday, May 14, at Orlando’s City Hall. Surrounded by pro-choice and women’s rights supporters from across Florida, “Bans Off Our Bodies Central FL 2022” held the event from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm. The rally was coordinated across several states through family planning center Planned Parenthood, and its partners in immediate response to a 98-page opinion draft circulated by Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. that was leaked to Politico, a political news organization, on May 2.

Melanie De Jesus

In the document, the draft aimed to strike down Roe v. Wade, a federal law passed in 1973, which upholds the right to legal and safe abortion in the U.S. Should Roe v. Wade be struck down, it becomes each state’s legislation decision whether it’s citizens gain access to abortion. This was the main reason and concern of rally attendees and speakers. The topics of the rally were to convey restrictions and bans on abortion hurt the community in many aspects, and that bans and extreme restrictions should remain out of the hands of state legislatures and in the hands of each individual to make their own decision on the matter.


After State Representative Anna V. Eskamani of District 47 Orange County commenced the event with her own abortion story and call to action, she introduced speakers coming from diverse non-profits, government offices, and civil rights organizations. Florida political candidates vocal on women’s reproductive rights also shared their own experiences with abortion and the negative effects of banning abortions on all citizens, especially the poor and under-represented demographics, who lack the transportation, resources and support. Speakers included LaVon Bracy Davis, Senior Director of Community Programming for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Florida House District 40 Candidate; Italia Rico, QLatinx immigration advocacy lead, as well as a former Valencia student; Johanna López, a Democrat running for Florida House District 43; Aurelie Colon Larrauri, Florida State Policy advocate at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

Aurelie Colon Larrauri addressed several key points in her speech.  “…and we must remember. Historically Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, immigrants, folks without financial privileged, disabled folk, LGBTQIA+ folks, have not had bodily autonomy because of the history of forced sterilization, non-consensual experiments on their bodies, and reproductive injustices. And these communities have been living in a post-Roe really already. We know that the Courts will not save us. We know that the government will not save us, and we know that Roe is the floor, not the ceiling. And while we are focusing on abortion restriction, we must remember that White people with financial means, will always have access to abortion care. Folks without financial privileged, folks in the working class who cannot take multiple days off of work, folks who cannot afford child care: these folks are the ones that need to be centered and be heard.”

Studies show citizens already struggle to gain access to safe and legal abortion with Roe v. Wade currently in place due to policies that bar federal funds from going towards abortions of Medicaid recipients unless it threatens the life of the pregnant person, and in the case of rape or incest, much like how the majority of U.S. states handled the topic 50 years ago when abortions were only permitted in a handful of states, and those seeking one for any other reason than that of the Hyde Amendment needed to travel to New York to get it.

Military veteran, community organizer and nurse Guerdy Remy speaks to the crowd. (Melanie De Jesus)

Counter protesters were present during the speeches but religious chants were drowned out by pro-choice chants while volunteer security staff remained nearby and vigilant for intervention should conflict happen.

Police were also present throughout the entire event and during the march route for security and traffic control. No incidents occurred during the talks or the march.

As the rally concluded, attendees lined up facing Orange Ave. holding a wide, yellow and pink banner reading “Bans Off My Body” with three fists in the air resembling different racial ethnicities. An array of pro-choice signs and banners began their route from City Hall towards East Central Blvd and marching past the courthouse to express their opposition to government creating barriers to abortion. Afterwards, marchers headed east towards Church Street where business owners, workers and patrons stood outside of their respective establishments observing the march, some cheering in support.

Protestors march outside the U.S. Court House Middle District Florida Building, 401 West Central Blvd. (Melanie De Jesus)