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Volunteers Organize to Save Abortion Clinic From Being Fined “Out of Existence”

Activists say the financial penalties are part of a targeted attack against one of only two clinics in Orlando, Florida.

An abortion rights activist holds a sign at a protest in support of abortion access on July 13, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Volunteers who regularly help protect patients from pro-forced pregnancy protesters at an abortion clinic in Orlando, Florida are pushing to save the facility from being fined “out of existence” by the state, following a $193,000 penalty that was levied against the clinic by the state Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA).

In just four days, as of this writing Stand With Abortion Now (SWAN) of Orlando has so far raised more than $112,000 to help Center of Orlando for Women pay the fine, which the state is demanding it pay because of alleged violations of Florida’s 24-hour waiting period rule for abortion patients.

The law requires people to have two medical appointments 24 hours apart in order to obtain abortion care, and went into effect after a judge approved it in April 2022 following a yearslong legal battle.

One SWAN volunteer told Business Insider that the clinic had tried unsuccessfully to contact the state “multiple times to see when exactly that law was going into effect because it was made very unclear, and that’s done pretty intentionally.”

The AHCA alleges that the center violated the law 193 times and last Monday announced the fine of $1,000 for each violation.

With a strong social media presence on TikTok and Twitter, SWAN started a fundraiser and quickly began spreading the word about the fine, warning abortion rights supporters that the penalty could bankrupt one of only two abortion clinics in Orlando.

U.S. Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Fla.), the Orlando chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and pro-abortion rights author and advocate Jessica Valenti have all amplified the fundraiser, with the DSA accusing the AHCA of a “targeted attack” against the clinic.

“Florida Republicans haven’t been able to totally ban abortion yet, so they’re working to bankrupt clinics in the meantime,” said Valenti. “We CANNOT let that happen.”

Abortion is currently banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Florida, and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — a 2024 presidential candidate — signed a new six-week ban earlier this year that is under review by the state Supreme Court.

The SWAN volunteer who spoke to Business Insider said that small donations have made an enormous difference in pushing the fundraiser toward its goal.

“Opponents of abortion rights can only win in the face of an apathetic majority. We are confident that we can save our clinic if folks remain dedicated to the initial, valid feelings of shock and rage we all felt when our rights were initially stripped from us by an unelected body,” said SWAN in a statement, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year. “This is another instance of an unelected body trying to deny a community access to abortion, and we hope it will instill the same motivation to help.”

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