Teens have right to control bodies
The Florida Legislature has been back in session for only a matter of weeks and already they’re rolling back our reproductive rights. This time, they’re targeting young people’s bodily autonomy. Lawmakers are on the cusp of passing a bill that will prohibit minors from seeking abortion care without parental consent. Even more concerning: Abortion providers and advocates were silenced during a Senate hearing earlier this month. State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, refused to take written testimony from the Center for Reproductive Rights and limited my oral testimony — that’s right, she limited testimony from professionals who are providing this care to young people on a daily basis. The Senate has now passed the bill, and the House will vote this week.
As an abortion-care provider in Jacksonville, I know that not all young people are fortunate enough to have parents they can turn to in this situation. Some face physical violence or emotional abuse at home, or their pregnancy may be the result of incest. Many young people fear parental anger and disappointment, which can drive them to harm themselves in order to escape shame and stigma at home and in their community.
Research shows that many young people already involve a parent or guardian in their abortion decision-making. Young people who forego involving a parent or guardian only do so for critical reasons rooted in their own safety and well-being. Legislators claim this bill will bridge a divide between parents and young people — an egregious assumption that paints all families the same — while refusing to acknowledge that it would in fact traumatize many young people seeking care and could put many in danger. We know that a majority of Floridians, over 56 percent, support abortion access, and we urge lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis to side with Floridians and reject this bill.
Kelly Flynn, Jacksonville
The writer is founder of A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville.
Not a monolithic group
Vouchers reveal racial split in state | Feb. 17
Why is it a surprise that black people in Florida are split on the issue of school vouchers? White people have diverse views on school choice, so why wouldn’t blacks? Although black America tends to vote heavily for one political party, we are not a monolithic group. As individuals who have had different experiences in life, black people have different opinions on a variety of public policy issues. School choice is just one.
Joseph Brown, Tampa
Don’t forget the bad moments
As Japanese Americans see today, Feb. 19, as a “Day of Remembrance,” we are reminded that on that day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order establishing the internment camps for American citizens of Japanese ancestry.
One of my fondest, yet saddest, memories was visiting the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah a few years back. While no buildings remain on site, the markers and plaques there — in literally the middle of nowhere — are a grim reminder of our country’s less-than-better days. The museum in nearby Delta, Utah, was most somber and enlightening. While we cannot erase our darker times, taking statues down and the like does not seem to be the answer. Past atrocities against certain groups certainly need not be glorified but yet remembered as tastefully as possible to remind us to never go there again.
Kenn Sidorewich, Oldsmar