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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

SAVE ORLANDO WOMEN’S CENTER, the flyer reads, a deceptively joyful shade of bubblegum pink. It’s the third one I’ve seen on campus today, and my stomach ties in another small knot. I’ve already taken a photo, but it feels bigger than scanning a QR Code. Bigger than me, a college girl in Orlando, even though it’s kind of all about me, too.

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The dread that’s been hanging in the air feels tangible. The overturn of Roe V. Wade back in June 2022 marked the start of panic that’s begun to engulf many women across America, and it’s been especially poignant here in Orlando. I walk past the same posters every day on my way to class; the same cheery color, exhausting message: it’s not over. In fact, it’s barely begun. I tell my friends to get angry, register to vote, and show up at the polls, but sometimes it feels like blowing air in a hurricane. How can something that has to do with us feel so far removed from our own hands? 

The current court case Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, et al. v. State of Florida et al. sees the contention of the state’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks, signed into effect by Republican Governor Ron Desantis. The plaintiffs include Central Florida Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers who had received acceptance from the Supreme Court back in January to hear arguments against House Bill 5, which in addition to banning abortions after 15 weeks, also threatens to put doctors in jail for providing any abortion services beyond that point in time. Abortion providers hope to have a Supreme Court ruling which will block the 15 week ban as litigation continues in lower courts in efforts to rule the law unconstitutional completely as reported by ABC News.

But there’s more on the table, and everyone in the court knows it: the Heartbeat Protection Act, or Senate Bill 300, which aims to ban abortions after six weeks gestation was passed by the Florida Senate earlier this spring. As PBS News Hour Reports, if the current enforcement of the 15 week ban is upheld by the Supreme Court, SB 300 banning abortions after six weeks would go into effect 30 days later state-wide. It’s a thought that makes my friends and I sign as many petitions as possible, and show up for as many protests and speeches as we can. It never feels like enough, but it’s better than watching it come undone from the sidelines. 

The hits come closer and closer to home. Just recently, in our own backyard, the Center of Orlando for Women received a whopping $193,000 in fines after 193 alleged violations occurred of a law which requires 24 hours to pass between the initial consultation with an abortion provider and the requested abortion procedure. As reported by Orlando Weekly, the clinic’s attorney argued the staff never received confirmation of the start date of this law, which was initially blocked in 2015 but ultimately passed in 2022. There had been diligent attempts to receive this information, but it had never been relayed, and the clinic began to implement the policy themselves. Although other clinics have received similar fines, none have been this high, and the fines threatened to shut down the provider, who could not provide the funds required to pay. 

It’s here where the light shines through: activists, using a crowdfunding campaign fund, raised $197,000 in less than two weeks from 5,500 donors to pay the fines that the clinic was facing. In a beautiful display of community solidarity, donors rallied together to create the funds necessary to keep the center open and serving the Central Florida area. It’s a small win in the ongoing war that sees reproductive healthcare providers and the State of Florida arguing the right to abortion. 

With all this in mind, I head over to the Planned Parenthood location closest to our UCF Campus, around ten minutes away. Earlier in the year, the clinic lived in the shadow of a large anti-abortion billboard, but the protests have moved from billboard to street side. I’m immediately approached by a slew of people with posters in various shades of blood red. The lady closest to my car asks me if I’m here to kill my baby. I don’t answer, and another woman presses further, asking if I have a moment to talk. “No, I’m sorry,” I manage to say, tearing my eyes from the posters they’re holding. I walk towards the clinic, and I hear them yelling after me. They don’t stop until I’m through the door, even though it’s over 100 feet away. As I walk through, I hear a final call – “It’s not too late-!” and the door shuts behind me. I’m only here to get information about changing my primary care over to Planned Parenthood, but the political atmosphere surrounding reproductive healthcare has bled into all corners.

I try to blink away the photos from the posters, and I’m helped by someone behind the front desk. She’s able to guide me to another location offering primary care services in Kissimmee. I ask her a question about the billboard, and although she remembers, she’s not sure when it was taken down. We make small talk regarding the protestors, and I give my support as I head back out. 

I walk faster to my car, eyes down, but a lady approaches me again as I near my car door. Her voice is gentler, and I look up. She asks if I have time to talk, but I tell her I don’t again. “I’ll take the brochure, though,” I hear myself say, even though I’m not sure why. Maybe I want to know what has them here, shouting at strangers on the street, with bloodied pictures and Bible verses printed under them. A part of me wants to understand, so I could lessen my anger.

She smiles at me, handing them over. “Did you come here for an abortion?” She asks, and I shake my head. She smiles like I’ve won the lottery, handing over two brochures and a smaller pamphlet. Her gentle voice juxtaposed with the aggressive messages on her posters confuse me. I take the brochures, and she looks me in the eyes. “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today,” she says, even though I haven’t done much speaking. 

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I sit in my car afterwards, going through the pamphlets. One discusses the chance of eternal damnation, the other filled with grisly pictures of alleged abortions. It’s the same ones I see protestors using on campus, waving it in student’s faces as they walk by. Another brochure has a list of religious health centers and support groups. I think of the $197,000 dollars raised, only necessary because of the increased laws making it difficult to obtain an abortion, of the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the exhausting pursuit of minimizing a woman’s right to choose, of the tired look in the eyes of the women behind the desk at Planned Parenthood, the renewed confidence in the protestors outside. I think of my own tiredness, the constant bad news, the feeling that the future is being written in a room no one involved has access to. 

I remember the words of one of the protestors as I entered the clinic. It’s not too late, she had said. A part of me is scared it already is.

Navigating Abortion Services in Florida

Keep up to Date on Supreme Court Case Updates Here

Farah Shah is a current Staff Writer for the UCF Chapter of Her Campus and a junior at the University of Central Florida. As a Political Science major with a minor in Terrorism Studies and Journalism Studies, Farah spends most of her time writing up on events, current and past. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, spending time outside soaking up the sun, or making a mess in the kitchen. Farah hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism in an international context, with specific regards to human rights and civilian safety in areas undergoing violence and/or war.