Florida Women Play Key Role in Emergency Birth-Control Case
he long and sweeping movement to broaden access to emergency contraception — which may culminate soon in girls and women of all ages having over-the-counter access — has been led, in part, by a group of Florida grassroots activists — students, mothers, daughters.
The original lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calling for all restrictions to be lifted on the so-called morning-after pill has nine plaintiffs, most of whom have deep Florida roots, their journey starting at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Five of the plaintiffs attended UF; one of those, Candi Churchill, grew up in Cooper City; their attorney, Andrea Costello, who also attended UF, is from North Miami.
The cause — first fought as students, now as seasoned activists — will be heard again Tuesday, as a federal judge decides the next step in a case shaping the national discourse on women’s reproductive rights. The case’s origin traces, in part, back to an infirmary pharmacist at UF in the 1990s who refused to dispense emergency contraceptives based on his religious and moral beliefs.
“We are just women who are willing to stand up for ourselves, other women and girls,” said Stephanie Seguin, who grew up in Fort Myers, now an organizer with the National Women’s Liberation Gainesville chapter and a plaintiff. “This is a way for women as a group to have more control over our lives. This is about self determination for women and girls.”