Pro-choice activists take to the streets of Orlando
State Rep. Anna Eskamani marches with pro-choice activists in Orlando on May 26.

Linda Stewart, Anna Eskamani, Amy Mercado among 1,000-plus protestors.

More than 1,000 pro-choice activists, including several state lawmakers, rallied in Orlando in favor of safe access to abortion.

“In my 10 years of advocacy for reproductive health, I have never seen this type of public support for abortion access,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.

Activists Alyssa Leann and Wilson Ortiz first posted a Facebook announcement of the rally on Tuesday. Come Saturday, more than 1,000 showed up at Lake Eola Park in Orlando.

Eskamani, a former Planned Parenthood executive, attended the rally and led chants with a megaphone in the streets.

State Sen. Linda Stewart and state Rep. Amy Mercado, both Orlando Democrats, also attended.

A number of political organizers also spoke at the event, including former First Unitarian Church Rev. Kathy Schmitz, University of Central Professor Dr. Jennifer Sandoval, Florida NOW President Kim Porteous, pro-choice activist Amaris Leon, Central Florida Women’s Emergency Fund leader Stephanie Pineiro, ALSO Youth executive director Nathan Bruemmer, and Guerdy Remy of Organize Florida.

“I am unapologetically angry that there are men in the legislature whose only interest in our bodies is what they can take from them,” Leon wrote on Facebook.

Eskamani said the strong turnout should send a message to lawmakers.

“It inspires me to keep being bold on these issues,” Eskamani said, “and I hope it reminds everyday Floridians of their impact in advocating for reproductive health, rights and justice.”

She also said legislation filed nationwide, including in Florida, should keep activists vigilant.

The march came a couple weeks after Alabama instated a near-total ban on abortions in that state.

But organizers noted lawmakers in the Sunshine State filed a number of bills seeking to restrict abortion.

State Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, and state Rep. Mike Hill, a Pensacola Republican, plan to file a heartbeat bill outlawing abortions six weeks into a pregnancy. Hill told the Pensacola News-Journal he will file a more restrictive bill akin to Alabama’s law next year.

And state Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, and state Reps. Tommy Gregory, a Sarasota Republican, and Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, filed pain-capable bills. Those would have restricted abortions around 20 weeks.

Neither bill made it out of committee this year.

In total, 46 states saw abortion restrictions introduced in 2019.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Eric

    May 26, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Calm down liberals, no one is coming for your abortions, we just want common sense abortion control. Mandatory background checks with complete mental health evaluation. Must be placed in a national abortion registry. $200 tax stamp and nine month waiting period. Outlaw assault abortions after the first trimester and limit the number you can have. NO one needs more than one abortion.

    • gary

      May 28, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      Nailed it Eric!

      I am an active Catholic and I don’t want to stop you from killing your precious baby. In fact, I don’t want the Fed involved at all. I think it should be a state by state issue, and the people of the state should be involved and vote on any bill involving abortion.

  • Sonny D

    May 27, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Mr. Ogles, please double-check your information before you publish. Erin Grall’s “pain-capable” (dismemberment) bill was in 2018–which passed the House Floor with 72 votes. Grall’s Parental Consent for abortions bill passed through three committees in the 2019 session and also passed along (mostly) party lines on the House Floor. The Senate passed Stargel’s companion bill through one committee. It will be back next session, so maybe you should clean up this piece so people can reference the content 100% accurate information.

    • Phil Morton

      May 28, 2019 at 7:35 am

      The Florida State Senate website says both bills Mr. Ogles cites died in committee. You might want to let them know they got it wrong.

      • Sonny D

        May 28, 2019 at 10:33 am

        That’s right, Grall was the co-sponsor on Gregory’s bill… not to be confused with the Parental Consent Bill which passed through three committees and the House Floor… or the Dismemberment Bill which passed through three committees and the House Floor in 2018. The way the story was written, Ogles tried to make it sound like they had individual bills. In writing a slanted article to prop up Planned Parenthood, you just cant mention the bills that pass–that would hurt the pro-choice position!

        • gary

          May 28, 2019 at 4:21 pm

          Clearly you have a sharp eye Sonny! Most articles by this outlet are very partison to Democrat policies and issues. This article clearly displays this.

  • Julie

    May 30, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Interesting that only men are making these stupid comments, kind of like the dotards and misogynists who are passing these laws.

Comments are closed.


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