ORLANDO, Fla. — Counter protesters and a thunderous rain shower did not dampen the spirits of the 1,000 or so people who gathered in Orlando Monday to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
What started as an indoor gathering organized by Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) grew over the course of an hour, with crowds blocking sidewalks as they filed to catch some of the speeches inside.
>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<
However, police were forced to block Orange Avenue, the city’s main road, as the block-long crowd turned and marched toward city hall.
“My heart is so broken for every victim of sexual violence that will have to carry her rapist’s child,” Sally Zakhari, a survivor of sexual violence herself, said. “It’s unimaginable.”
The group rallied in front of city hall for a while, then turned and marched back down the road with their police escort. A small group of protesters and counter protesters remained, arguing over their views and a handful of anti-abortion signs that had been stolen and destroyed.
“No matter what you want, what do you desire, your daughter or your son comes first,” counter protester Jonathan Middlebrook said, adding that his wife decided against an abortion and put her baby up for adoption instead. “That’s just how I was raised.”
Read: At least 40 suspected migrants found dead inside big-rig in San Antonio, police say
The protests stretched far into the night, with both sides occupying sidewalks across from each other on South Street, forcing the closure of a section of Orange Avenue until 10 p.m.
There are few signs the energy around the divisive issue will not die soon. A small, separate pro
Read: Brightline high-speed rail station at Disney Springs nixed. Here’s why.
Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban is now before a circuit judge only four days before it’s set to take effect.
On Monday, the judge heard arguments about the abortion restrictions state lawmakers passed this year.
Channel 9 went through the latest abortion report from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which states that health care workers in our state performed nearly 80,000 abortions in that time frame.
READ: Judge’s decision may impact people traveling to Florida for abortions
Just under 94% of those procedures happened during the first trimester. Workers performed the remaining abortions during the second trimester. Florida’s abortion ban after 15 weeks falls a few weeks after the end of the first trimester.
On Monday, a Leon County judge heard arguments on the proposed injunction to temporarily block the law to stop abortions after 15 weeks.
WATCH: Roe v. Wade overturned: Which states will ban abortion; where will they remain legal?
Several clinics across the state, including Planned Parenthood in Central Florida and the ACLU, are suing, saying the law violated Florida’s constitution which guarantees a person’s right to be free from government intrusion.
Anti-abortion groups want the judge to throw the lawsuit out, saying the constitution doesn’t apply to abortion and there is no right to sue.
The judge is expected to make a decision soon.
WATCH: Central Florida reacts to Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on abortion rights
Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.
©2022 Cox Media Group