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In the fight for reproductive rights, no one can save us but ourselves

Mayday! Mayday! As of midnight on May 1, Florida’s dangerous new six-week abortion ban has become law—effectively banning all abortion care in our state and raising our calls for the passage of Amendment 4 among doctors, patients, and freedom-loving Floridians everywhere , so we can enshrine abortion rights in the Florida Constitution.

Exactly one month ago, the Florida Supreme Court issued dueling opinions to take Florida one giant step forward and one cataclysmic step back in the fight for reproductive freedom. On the one hand, we reached a historic milestone when the Supreme Court approved the ballot language for Amendment 4, giving Floridians the opportunity to vote yes and protect abortion from government interference at the ballot box in November.

Unfortunately, the Court also upheld our state’s controversial 15-week abortion ban, a ruling that gave rise to the dangerous six-week ban that the Legislature passed after already banning abortion after 15 weeks. That six-week ban will take effect on May 1, raising the stakes for the passage of Amendment 4 and leaving the health and safety of millions of women and girls, including survivors of sexual violence, at stake.

Lauren Book is the Democratic Leader of the Florida Senate.  (courtesy of Lauren Book)
Lauren Book is the Democratic Leader of the Florida Senate. (courtesy of Lauren Book)

With the six-week ban in effect, our fight to pass Amendment 4 and restore abortion rights with constitutional protections has never been more crucial. As we organize across party lines—with Democrats, Republicans, and independents bridging partisan divides to advocate for the restoration of our shared rights and freedoms—one truth has become increasingly clear: No one is coming to save us but ourselves.

That’s why the Floridians Protecting Freedom campaign—a nonpartisan effort led by organizations across the state, including our own Reproductive Freedom Collective of Broward County—is leading the urgent work to ensure that 60% of Florida voters vote yes on Amendment 4 in November.

The language for Amendment 4 is clear, and so is our intent: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before it is viable or when necessary to protect the health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider. This amendment does not change the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notification of a parent or guardian before a minor obtains an abortion.”

An overwhelming number of Floridians agree: Restrictions on abortion pose a clear and present danger to the rights and freedoms of Floridians – especially women and their doctors, who now face prison sentences for essential reproductive health care. Our private medical decisions are not the government’s business, and politicians have no place in our exam rooms.

In recent years, we have witnessed the dangerous consequences of abortion bans here and across the country. We’ve seen the impact on women’s lives, on families, and on our communities: a high school incest victim from Jacksonville forced to flee the state and become a medical refugee to access the care she needs had. A Central Florida mother was forced to carry on a doomed pregnancy despite her baby’s fatal fetal anomaly, only to suffer when he gasped for breath and died inhumanely after just 99 excruciating minutes of life outside the womb. IVF mothers here in Broward County who have suffered life-threatening and medically complex miscarriages that nearly killed them after being denied their need for abortion care. This is not freedom, and it is not safe.

Ohio voters passed constitutional abortion protections last year, and now it’s our turn. We must act to protect women and girls – and in the months and weeks leading up to November, the success of Amendment 4 depends on everyday people across the state, just like you and me.

We must be the guardians of our rights.

We must reject government interference in personal, private decisions between women and girls and their doctors.

We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents, united by our shared belief that all Americans should be able to control their own lives, free from government interference or imposed beliefs.

It is up to us to defend our freedom and privacy rights and ensure that more than 60% of voters support Amendment 4 this November. Visit FloridiansProtectingFreedom.com and pledge to vote, sign up to receive campaign updates or send a contribution, and follow Broward’s Reproductive Freedom Collective on social media to get involved locally.

Lauren Book is the Democratic leader of the Florida Senate and an outspoken advocate for abortion rights. She was arrested outside the Capitol earlier this year for peacefully protesting Florida’s abortion ban.