New abortion laws continue to divide South Florida

A Woman’s Choice in Miami Lakes has been providing services to women for 27 years. (Isabel Fassi/SFMN)

Tamara Amador, 28, is a pro-choice Miami native who says there is a real problem with a cascade of legislation that could soon make getting an abortion legal in more than a dozen states.

It is mostly crafted by males in power. 

“Men have never had anyone coming in and telling them what to do with their bodies,” said Amador recently. ”The pressure on women is real.”  

On April 14, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will ban nearly all abortion procedures after 15 weeks and that law is set to go into effect on July 1. But voters are strongly split on the matter. With the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which gives women the right to terminate a pregnancy, the issue is likely to play a key role in this fall’s midterm elections.

Since 1973, women have mostly had access to legal abortions in the United States. This landmark decision gave women the right to terminate their pregnancies without government restrictions. 

Fast forward to 2022: women are once again living in fear that they will lose those rights. The U.S. is highly divided, with more than half the states looking to ban all or most abortions and the rest pushing to keep abortion a private and personal choice. 

Statewide polls show that Florida voters mostly support abortion rights. A Feb. 22 survey by the University of North Florida found that 57% of Floridians don’t support the new 15-week law. Results from a poll published on May 25 by Florida Atlantic University show that 67% of respondents, mostly Republicans, support abortion in either all or most cases. 

Amador, the pro-choice Miami native, as of today does not consider herself to be part of any political party. She says her stance on abortion will always remain the same. 

“I am pro-choice because I think of the 10-year-old girl that was abused or raped by her uncle,” she said. “She’s terrified to tell her parents and when she finally does, she’s more than 15 weeks pregnant. So now she has to keep a baby because DeSantis says so? Hell no,” she states as her face turns red with frustration. 

It’s a fight that is almost guaranteed to continue on for years to come. Even if Roe is overturned, Gallup polls from 2021 show that 49% of Americans identify as pro-choice, while 47% consider themselves pro-life. 

A recent FIU graduate, Isaac Cheng, 22-year-old aspiring aerospace engineer, also belongs to neither party. He gives the example of questions such as “do you think abortion is okay in awkward ‘-insert circumstance-,'” which he says are typically asked with the intention to make the other side look bad.

“It kind of twists the situation to make me condemn someone because of their actions,” Cheng said. “If we aren’t talking about legalities but instead about morality, then it is up to God to judge. The question is really asking, when is it okay to end a life?”

Alanna Barlow, 22, disagrees. “Pro-abortion people believe we need to lower our voice. They want people who are against abortion to stop expressing themselves. That’s literally the First Amendment, the freedom of speech. I refuse to not share how I feel,” says Barlow. 

Barlow feels that there is a shame complex when it comes to women deciding to have an abortion. She describes her own personal situation that involves her parents and their attempts to have a baby.

“I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a home where I was wanted,” Barlow said. “My parents were trying to conceive for over a decade and they wound up getting in vitro fertilization.”

In-vitro fertilization is an artificial impregnation process in which eggs are removed from the ovary and combined with sperm in a lab to form the embryos. The process is typically done when couples are unable to naturally conceive on their own.

Barlow feels saddened by those who eventually abort, explaining that there is always the option of having the baby and then proceeding to put the child up for adoption.

“I have a lot of respect for people who didn’t want their baby but they decided to adopt and so that’s my personal value,” Barlow said. “If, hypothetically, I was ever in this circumstance where I had a baby unexpectedly, I hope that I would have the courage and strength to give birth and allow that child to be adopted by someone else.”

The 15-week ban, which is set to take effect in less than a month, has very few exceptions. The ban will only be overlooked when the pregnant person’s life is at risk or has a high risk of injury. The only other exception is when a fetal abnormality is discovered, meaning two doctors will have to sign off that the baby has almost no chance of survival. There will be zero exceptions to incest, rape or human trafficking regardless of age. 

A Woman’s Choice, an abortion clinic in the heart of Miami Lakes, has been providing a range of services for 27 years. One employee at the clinic, who chose to keep her full name private, explained a particular prenatal test that is common during pregnancies. The results of this process can sometimes be the determining factor of whether an abortion is done or not.

“Fifteen to sixteen weeks is when women get the amniocentesis test done,” said Pam S., who works at A Woman’s Choice. “The test lets us know if the baby has any genetic or chromosomal issues. Down syndrome, things of that nature,” Pam said.

Depending on what turn their pregnancy takes, some women are faced with the decision to terminate later in their pregnancy, Pam added.

While many are fighting to keep abortion legal, there are still those that believe abortion is murder no matter what, such as the many pro-life organizations scattered across the country. 

Organizations like Heartbeat of Miami turn to religion for answers. On their website, Heartbeat of Miami’s mission is clear: “We believe that all human life is of inestimable worth and significance in all its stages. Abortion destroys innocent human life. Since preborn children have been legally stripped of their natural human rights, they require moral courage and acts of compassion for their protection.”

Heartbeat of Miami declined to speak on the topic at this time. 

Roe v. Wade reversal can play a major role in who shows up to vote for the midterm elections that will take place on Nov. 22. With the majority of Democrats vowing to protect abortion rights and Republicans hoping for victory in a decade-long fight to ban abortion, the stakes are at an all-time high. The question at hand is will this be enough to get voters to come out based solely on a single issue?  

Florida Republican Rick Scott does not believe abortion will be a major determining factor in these midterm elections. “I think when you talk to people, the big issue they’re dealing with right now is inflation, crime, the border, stuff like that,” Scott said last month at an all-GOP Senator’s meeting.

Cheng cites science as one of the reasons why he is against abortion.

“A lot of people argue when exactly life starts but in my opinion it is pretty clear,” Cheng said. “Much like how a car starts when the key is turned and the engine is ignited, in the same way a life is started when fertilization of the egg occurs. This to me is just the fact of the matter, not even saying if it is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ But in terms of morality, I do not support abortion.”

Cheng, despite having this stance, believes that the division over topics like abortion is unhealthy. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, he says the situation will only grow worse.

This story is part of a series looking at major issues in this fall’s critical midterm elections. To read the other stories, click here.

Isabel Fassi is a student at Florida International University majoring in Journalism. Born and raised in South Florida, she grew up with a passion for fashion and a curiosity for true crime. Her mission is to share the stories of the unheard and silenced, one true crime case at a time.

Julian Febres is a senior at Florida University studying journalism. He was born in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida into a fully Puerto Rican family and never fails to express his Latino pride. He is passionate about writing, soccer, music, and fashion. His dream is to be able to freely write about all his interests and spread positivity and good energy at all times.