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Culture > News

Reproductive Justice & PPGenAction USFSP

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

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion access has been restricted or banned in 22 states. In Florida, the future of reproductive rights is uncertain, depending on the decision of the Florida Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban. If this bill were to be deemed constitutional, a six-week abortion ban, previously signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April 2023, would automatically go into effect. 

Currently, patients are required to attend two appointments and wait 24 hours before receiving an abortion, with no exception for victims of rape or incest. The 24-hour law has had an immense impact on abortion providers, as the Agency for Health Care Administration has imposed significant fines on at least 11 out of the 55 licensed abortion clinics in Florida for failure to comply with the new law. The Center of Orlando for Women was charged $193,000— $1,000 for each abortion allegedly performed without waiting 24 hours, a fine that was almost 3 times higher than a judge’s recommendation — causing speculation that the excessive fees were intended to put the center out of business.  

Florida has also increased funding for crisis pregnancy centers from $4.45 million in 2022 to $25 million. These centers pretend to offer abortion services and instead attempt to shame and coerce patients into carrying the pregnancy to term. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated and nonmedical, and staff members have no legal obligation to provide pregnant people with accurate information, or to follow HIPAA and client confidentiality guidelines.  “This is disastrous for patients who may not know the difference between a crisis center that pushes for forced birth over a true clinic that provides access to any care the patient decides upon,” Planned Parenthood Generation Action USFSP founder and President Alexis Hobbs tells Her Campus.  

We are already seeing the disastrous impacts of these restrictions. People are now faced with the reality of having to travel outside the state to receive care, undergo a forced birth, or suffer severe health risks to themselves and the fetus. Researchers at the University of Colorado Bounder calculated the expected increase in maternal mortality in the event of complete abortion bans, predicting that Florida will experience a 29% increase in maternal deaths, which is the highest among all the states. Additionally, infant and perinatal mortality rates are higher in states with abortion restrictions, whereas states with abortion access had lower death rates.  

In one case, Florida woman Deborah Dorbert was forced to give birth to a baby with no kidneys, a condition that led to death shortly after he was born. At 24 weeks, Dorbert’s ultrasound revealed that the fetus did not have kidneys (a condition known as Potter Syndrome) and she had a lack of amniotic fluid, which meant that the fetus would not survive, and her pregnancy put her at an increased risk of preeclampsia, a potentially deadly complication. Despite this, her doctors informed her that it was too late to terminate the pregnancy in Florida. Lacking the funds to travel, Dorbert was forced to carry out the rest of her pregnancy for 13 weeks, while knowing her baby would die and worrying about her own health. As a result of the abortion ban, Dorbert suffered severe emotional trauma and health risks, and there are unfortunately more stories like hers.  

In the midst of the chaos, the Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) chapter at USFSP is taking a stand. “Planned Parenthood Generation Action is a collective of like-minded students organizing and advocating for reproductive rights on campus and in the community,” Hobbs says. “Through this organization, I hope to make reproductive health care more accessible on campus, get students politically involved (especially when it comes to voting), and educate students about reproductive health care and the rights they have to receive these crucial services.” 

While the chapter advocates for easily accessible information about abortion care for students in need, their impact also expands further into the realm of reproductive health. Currently, PPGA USFSP is working on getting a “sex vending machine” on campus, that would provide things like emergency contraception, condoms, pregnancy tests, lube, period products, and more. PPGA aims to get college students involved in the conversation around reproductive rights, sexual education, and healthcare services.  

Interested in getting more involved in Planned Parenthood Generation Action at USFSP? PPGA USFSP welcomes everyone, as a non-partisan organization of diverse individuals united by a common cause.  There are many different ways to get involved, depending on your interests and skills. Currently, PPGA has open positions on their E-Board, where you can help with marketing, events, community outreach, SG initiatives, or sexual education. You can also assist with crowd canvassing, where you can help people register to vote or sign petitions. Even small actions, like reposting important information on social media and donating during the period product and hygiene drive, make a significant impact.  

While PPGA appreciates each and every action towards reproductive justice, Hobbs urges you to do one thing— help put abortion on the ballot in 2024. “As of this year, the most important action is the Abortion on the Ballot Petition,” Hobbs says. “Any person registered to vote in the state of Florida can sign it, and if we reach 900,000 statewide, citizens will be able to vote on adding the constitutional right to an abortion during the 2024 election.” 

Kelsey Sherman is the Events Coordinator of the USFSP chapter of Her Campus. She oversees the planning and execution of campus events and manages an events team. She is also a writer, with a focus on political journalism. In 2021-22, Kelsey served as the Special Events Coordinator for the Florida Scholastic Press Association, responsible for planning a conference of over 1400 student journalists. Beyond Her Campus, Kelsey works as a Student Recruiter for USF Education Abroad. She is also the Campus Council Vice Chair for Student Government and a Volunteer Committee Co-Chair for the Honors Student Council. Kelsey is currently a senior at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, majoring in Political Science and Sustainability Studies with a minor in Urban Studies. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys hiking, hammocking, and reading. She loves to travel, and her most recent destination was Iceland.