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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Campus pro-choice, pro-life advocates speak out on proposed abortion rights measure

Reproductive rights advocates gathered over 996,00 signatures for an amendment aimed at restricting governmental interference with abortion until “fetal viability” — considered to be around the 24th week of pregnancy, eliciting hope from supporters and strong reactions from pro-lifers.
Diana Vrolijk
Entrance to Student Health Services.

After a sexual assault outside of a club, FAU neuroscience and psychology major Morgan Poulin, found herself unnerved in the midst of a pregnancy scare in August 2023. 

Poulin first received a positive result from a store-bought pregnancy test, but clarity came when she took a follow-up test at Planned Parenthood that revealed the initial result was incorrect.

“I thought I was pregnant when I just turned 19 years old and moved out of my parents’ house for college. I’m paying all my bills myself and I’m trying to put myself through college,” Poulin said. “That would be nine months that I would have to take a step back from work, and I can’t afford to take a step back from work. I would end up going into debt.”

Poulin considered every option – adoption, abortion and even keeping the baby – but during the period she believed she was pregnant, she felt abortion appeared to be the most suitable choice. However, when asked about whether she would vote for the amendment if it makes it to the ballot, Poulin expressed uncertainty. 

“I’m all for pro-choice, but I feel like 24 weeks might be too far along,” said Poulin. “Unless it is medically necessary, I feel that it’s too extreme.”

Poulin is one of many women concerned about access to abortion. The Florida Supreme Court will soon consider arguments tied to the language of a constitutional amendment that would broaden abortion access in the state. If the court allows the amendment, it’ll be on the ballot this November where voters can vote to amend the state constitution. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Feb. 7.

“For a few weeks, I thought I was pregnant, and that was the worst mental state that I’ve ever been in. I was very confused on what the right thing to do was,” Poulin said.


Florida is currently under a 15-week abortion ban since April 2022 called the “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” law, also known as HB 5, which bans all abortions in the state at 15 weeks and later. The law provides exceptions if the fetus has a fatal abnormality or if carrying the pregnancy to term would result in serious injury or death for the mother, but does not make exceptions for rape or incest. 

On April 13, 2023, Florida Legislature approved a six-week abortion ban that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law. The bill prohibits all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and makes exceptions for certain cases of rape, incest and when the women’s health or life is at risk. 

The Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing the 15-week ban in response to a legal challenge by advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, asserting that the ban violates the state’s constitution. These groups contend that the state constitution’s privacy clause explicitly protects the rights to abortion. Conversely, the state argues that the privacy clause primarily covers ‘informational privacy’ and not abortion. If the 15-week ban remains, the six-week ban would go into effect about a month later. 

The American Civil Liberties Union filed this ongoing lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and other abortion providers against the state of Florida.

Reproductive rights advocates surpassed the necessary number of verified signatures for an amendment aimed at restricting governmental interference with abortion until “fetal viability” — considered to be around the 24th week of pregnancy, eliciting hope from supporters and strong reactions from pro-lifers. The group leading the ballot effort, Floridians Protecting Freedom, collected a current total of 996,512 state-verified signatures as of Feb.7, exceeding the 891,523 needed by Feb. 1 to advance the proposal for inclusion on the November ballot, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The focus of the Feb. 7 arguments will revolve around whether the Florida Supreme Court should approve the wording of the proposed abortion rights amendment, permitting its inclusion on the Nov. ballot. 

If the abortion rights amendment makes it to the ballot and is passed, it would essentially reverse the existing 15-week ban in the state along with the more recently enacted six-week ban. The amendment would mandate the availability of abortion until fetal viability–the stage of development where the baby is able to live outside of its mother’s womb– and would cancel both bans. 

The proposed amendment states, “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

“The last few years we have seen relentless attacks on reproductive healthcare access but particularly since the fall of Roe,” said Cheyenne Drews, senior communications specialist at Progress Florida, one the organizations working in partnership with Floridians Protecting Freedom to move the abortion ballot initiative forward. “This amendment […] was built out of a moment of urgency when Floridians decided that enough is enough, and we need to bring this to a vote on a ballot.”

“Decisions around pregnancy and abortion have no room for political interference,” Drew said. “Every pregnancy is different, and the decision whether or not to become a parent is best left in the hands of the pregnant person and whoever they decide to involve.”

Kristen Burke is a graduate reproductive health researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who grew up in north central Florida. She sees abortion access as a “fundamental human right” and feels it should be guaranteed.

“In general, people are not in favor of full abortion bans, so I think it’s really inspiring and exciting to see this sort of movement happening in Florida for citizens to directly take action to try and bring policy into alignment with public opinion,” she said. 

“We as legislators, we make the law but we are not doctors, and I believe that it should be the doctors and the women who really determine the outcome of what’s best for women,” said State Representative Jervonte Edmonds, an FAU alum. “We have a lot of men in this legislature making laws and rules for women and not giving them an equal stance.”

Edmonds said his experience as a legislative assistant at State Representative Bobby Powell’s office convinced him that legislation is the most influential path for making a difference. This insight inspired him to pursue a political science degree at FAU in the hopes of eventually becoming a state representative. 

“I think [this amendment] is great to combat the extremism that we have seen in our legislature for the past couple of years dealing with women. I think [this amendment] acknowledges the power of the people which is the most important thing especially in today’s political climate,” said Edmonds. “A lot of people’s voices aren’t heard and I think this is directly going to say that if you work together on an issue, you can make change even from a voter standpoint.” 

Campus tie

A report from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration estimates that there were 78,250 abortions performed in the state in 2023. Medication abortion, the process of ending a pregnancy by taking two pills –mifepristone and misoprostol– instead of having a surgical procedure, now accounts for more than half of all U.S. abortions. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has been reviewing a lower court decision that would make mifepristone , the one of the commonly used abortion pills less accessible since Dec. 2023. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved mifepristone in 2000 and first required the drug to be prescribed in person, over three doctor visits; however, the FDA removed that protocol in 2016, which since then has been allowing patients to obtain prescriptions through telemedicine appointments and receiving the drug by mail. 

“I believe in people’s bodily autonomy and their right to choose abortion if that’s what they want, and i’m also for people to choose not to have an abortion if they don’t want to,” said Dana Johnson, reproductive health researcher employed full-time at Ibis Reproductive Health and an affiliated researcher with the Self-Managed Abortion Needs Assessment Project (SANA) at the University of Texas at Austin.

The case is scheduled to be heard this term, and a decision is likely by summer 2024. 

Nimisha Rajendran, president of FAU’s American Medical Women’s Association campus chapter, raised concerns about the accessibility of long-term healthcare in the state and the existence of supportive environments for women navigating pregnancies. 

“As a pre-medical organization, giving [women] that autonomy and the right to advocate for their own health and their own bodies is very important,” Rajendran said. “Do [pregnant women] have access to long term health care for them and their baby if they choose to have this baby, are they in an environment that would be supportive, do they have all the education that they need to make an informed choice about whether or not they want to keep the baby?”

According to Johnson, “one of the easiest ways to put a person who can become pregnant under the poverty line is for them to have a pregnancy that they are not prepared to have.”

Students for Life of America — a non-profit, anti-abortion organization that has formed groups of high school and college students across the U.S.—  provides a pregnancy resource called Standing With You. It offers support, referrals, to pregnant and parenting families and resources like counseling and free baby supplies to families. 

Kristen Wayne helps manage the Students for Life clubs in Florida’s universities and colleges. She is the organization’s state regional coordinator, and she says staff have a goal to help the younger generation become pro-life and to “make abortion unavailable and unthinkable in our lifetime.”

The UP reached out to the FAU chapter of Students for Life but did not receive a response by publication time. Both Wayne and Palm Beach County Right to Life League president Willy Guardiola contend that the wording used in the amendment is too vague.

“The thing that really brought up a red flag with me with their amendment is when they say the ‘client’s health,’” said Guardiola. “There’s two clients here. They’re disregarding the baby […] when you say health, are we talking mental health, financial health, physical health?’

Drews said lawyers would address the amendment’s word clarity and any possible confusion on Feb. 7 at the oral arguments.  The focus of the Feb. 7 arguments will revolve around whether the Florida Supreme Court should approve the wording of the proposed abortion rights amendment, permitting its inclusion on the Nov. ballot. 


In May 2023, Guardiola and others started promoting the Human Life Protection Amendment (HLPA) , a pro-life petition that did not meet the required number of signatures to be included on the Nov. ballot by the Feb. 1 deadline.

“I’m tired of fighting abortion, I’m here to ban abortion,” said Guardiola. “I’m passionate about saving human beings.”

Over the course of his 14-year tenure as president of the Palm Beach County Right to Life League, Guardiola has ardently expressed his stance as an anti-abortion activist. 

“To me it’s just absurd,” Guardiola said. “There shouldn’t be any questions about abortion […] It’s not a woman’s right, it’s the baby’s right as well.”

While the Florida Supreme Court hears oral arguments this week, pro-lifers will gather on the courthouse steps to voice their opposition to the inclusion of abortion in the state constitution and express support for Attorney General Ashley Moody’s legal team.

This gathering, sponsored by Florida Voice for the Unborn and co-sponsored in part by Students for Life Action, will feature Frank Pavone, the founder and leader of Priests for Life, as the keynote speaker. 

Florida state representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman, who covers a portion of the state which includes the university’s Boca campus, voted against the six-week abortion ban. The UP reached out to Gossett-Seidman, but she declined comment for this story. 

“Regardless of how a child is created or conceived, [even] through rape or incest, that is still a unique living human being,” Wayne said. “There is nobody else like it. There will never be another person like it, so we think that because of the situation on how they were created, that does not justify us going to kill that child. It’s not the child’s fault for how they were created, and they deserve to be protected.”

Laurie Mermet is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM laurie.mmt on Instagram.

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Laurie Mermet
Laurie Mermet, Student Life Editor
Laurie Mermet is a senior pursuing a bachelor's in multimedia journalism with a minor in public relations. 

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