Advocates see 'chaos' if Supreme Court guts abortion rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Abortion rights advocates on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – a 1973 landmark imperiled in the legal fight over Mississippi's attempt to ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

"The fallout would be swift and certain. As abortion bans are enforced – or the threat of enforcement looms – large swaths of the South and Midwest would likely be without access to legal abortion," said lawyers for Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi.

"People would be harmed, and chaos would ensue, even in states that claim not to be prohibiting abortion directly," the lawyers added.

The court filing came in response to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, who said in papers filed with the court in July that the Roe v. Wade ruling and a subsequent 1992 decision that affirmed it were both "egregiously wrong."

The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.

DeSantis threatens millions in fines for vaccine mandates

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times) — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida will fine local governments $5,000 for each employee who is required to be vaccinated, threatening some cities and counties with millions of dollars in penalties for adopting strict vaccine mandates.

During a Monday news conference in Alachua County, DeSantis vowed to fight that city's requirement that employees be vaccinated by the end of the month or be fired.

"We are not going to let people get fired because of the vaccine mandate," the Republican governor said. "You don't just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what's basically a personal choice over their individual health."

The result could be the state imposing millions of dollars in fines under a new state law barring Florida businesses and local governments from requiring proof of a vaccine "to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the governmental entity's operations in this state." A new Department of Health rule enforcing the law is set to take effect Thursday.

Gainesville, Orange County and Leon County have each passed requirements that employees be vaccinated or be fired, with exemptions for religious or medical reasons. DeSantis noted that Orange County has thousands of employees.

"That's millions and millions of dollars potentially in fines," DeSantis said.

Other cities, such as Tampa, have adopted less onerous approaches, requiring employees be vaccinated or submit to weekly tests. DeSantis' spokesperson did not respond when asked whether the $5,000 fines would apply to that city policy.

In Gainesville, more than 200 employees, including police and firefighters, have sued the city. Some of those employees said Monday that they were fighting the requirement on principle. They also expressed skepticism over the safety of the vaccines, while DeSantis stood next to them.

"The vaccine changes your RNA, so for me, that's a problem," said Darris Friend, who said he's about a year and a half away from retirement after 22 years with the city. "It's about our freedom and liberty. It's not about the vaccine."

Friend may have been referring to DNA, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states clearly that the vaccines don't "change or interact" with DNA in any way.

Christine Damm, who has worked for the city for 10 years, said her four children lost their grandmother last year, although not from COVID-19.

"I will not put my children through the possibility of losing another maternal figure in their lives," she said. "My family means everything to me. My body, my choice."


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