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Hundreds at Tampa rally protest end of Roe v. Wade and demand federal action

Storms rolled through the abortion rights rally downtown, but protestors continued to march.
Emily Reed (right), 33, of St. Petersburg, raises a sign during an abortion protest on Saturday, July 2, 2022 in Tampa. "If my hysterectomy was scheduled three months later I would not have that choice," Reed said.
Emily Reed (right), 33, of St. Petersburg, raises a sign during an abortion protest on Saturday, July 2, 2022 in Tampa. "If my hysterectomy was scheduled three months later I would not have that choice," Reed said. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]
Published Jul. 2|Updated Jul. 2

TAMPA — About 300 protesters gathered on the steps of the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa on a storm-threatened Saturday afternoon, calling on elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to protect abortion rights and chanting, “We are the majority.”

The abortion rights demonstration was the latest of several in the bay area since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent and ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

Some of the signs in the crowd echoed the high emotions at the event.

“The system is sexist!”; “I will not go quietly back to the 1950s”; “I am now 2nd class citizen”; and “We are not ovary-reacting,” read some of the signs.

Alli Sparks, 24, of St. Petersburg, held a sign reading, “I’m with her.”

Sparks and other protesters urged President Joe Biden to set up abortion clinics on federal land to overcome state restrictions.

Some protesters said Democrats in Congress should codify Roe v. Wade through national legislation. Biden said Thursday he supports easing the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rules to do just that.

“I feel proud that we all came together,” Sparks said.

Dave Gonzalez, 63, a Tampa resident, carried a sign that read, “Protect Health Care Stop DeathSantis,” referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor last month said he will “work to expand pro-life protections.”

“Men (are) trying to decide a woman’s choice,” Gonzalez said. Access to reproductive care, he said, “can’t be a political decision.”

For Madison McRae, a 23-year-old Tampa resident, Saturday’s gathering was the first protest she’s ever attended.

“I think that the ruling just made women second-class citizens of this country. ... We’re very afraid that they’re going to come for same-sex marriage next,” said McRae.

The protest’s organizer also was new to activism.

Amanda Lynn, 40, led the crowd in chants: “Does anybody feel free today?” she shouted to a rousing response of “No!”

A torrential downpour hit the rally as protesters left the courthouse, but people continued to march.

McRae, standing across from the Glazer Children’s Museum, said people seeing protesters unfazed by the weather could be persuasive.

Amy Burke, 52, of Tampa, stood drenched without an umbrella at the corner of North Ashley Drive, waving a sign at passing cars that read, “Your body your choice!”

“Please listen,” Burke said. “Codify Roe v. Wade. Try to reach across the aisle. We need bipartisan support.”

She didn’t mind the rain. “It’s important to be visible,” especially in a ­conservative state, she said.

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