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She ended her pregnancy a year before Florida would have banned it — now she’s running for Congress

by Jessica Washington June 24, 2024

This article was republished from a Fuller Project newsletter on June 24, 2024. Subscribe here.

Lucia Báez-Geller went into her doctor’s office hopeful. Despite some concerns at the last appointment that the pregnancy hadn’t progressed properly — at eight weeks — she and her husband remained optimistic. 

“We knew the realities,” she says. “But we hoped and prayed the doctor would have good news.”

Instead, at her ten-week appointment, the couple got the prognosis they’d been dreading — the pregnancy wasn’t viable. 

“It was earth-shattering,” says Báez-Geller. “Our whole world and the future we had imagined for our family of four was gone.”

Her doctor gave her three options: a D&C to surgically remove the pregnancy, which her doctor described as the safest and most effective option; a medication abortion pill; or she could allow her body to go through a “natural miscarriage” where her body would miscarry without medical intervention — the riskiest option. She chose the D&C. 

In November, she and that choice are on the ballot. Since she ended her pregnancy, Florida passed a six-week abortion ban. 

“If it had happened this year, we would have had to travel, with our two-year-old daughter, out of state to get the same care we received one year ago right here at home,” explains Báez-Geller, 40. 

In response to what she sees as an onslaught of attacks on fundamental rights, the Miami-Dade County school board member is running to unseat Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar, a Republican with a strong anti-abortion stance. Báez-Geller is far from alone — in the first general election cycle since the Dobbs decision, EMILYs List, a PAC that funds female Democrats who support abortion rights, has endorsed 259 candidates, including 63 congressional candidates, and is expecting to endorse more candidates as primaries come to a close. 

Yari Aquino, director of campaign communications at EMILYs List, says the Dobbs decision has played a massive role in motivating candidates, and that women all across the United States are not being shy about putting reproductive rights at the center of their campaigns and sharing their personal experiences with abortion.

“Women are running on reproductive freedom up and down the ballot,” writes Aquino, in a statement to The Fuller Project. “They are running because those lived experiences shaped them, and they want to ensure that our government includes and represents those experiences.”    

In Tennessee, State Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is running to unseat incumbent Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), shared her story of having an abortion at 21 years old. 

Johnson, 62, who was newly married at the time, was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. Her physicians told her that if she were to continue her pregnancy she would die before the fetus was viable. 

“If we had the current [abortion] trigger ban in place, I wouldn’t be here today,” shared Johnson during her testimony. She later told the Associated Press: “The reality is that we’re in a situation where people act like stories like mine are one in a million when actually they happen every day.” 

In addition to the long list of candidates running on abortion, ballot initiatives related to abortion are also likely to play a crucial role in the upcoming election. Eleven states — Nevada, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida — may have ballot initiatives related to abortion access. 

Nina Smith, a senior strategist and president at PoliSol Public Affairs, a political public relations firm, says these ballot initiatives will be an additional driver to the polls for candidates running on abortion. 

“Democrats, in particular, if they play it right, there’s a very real possibility that there could be victories in those states,” says Smith, referencing the states with abortion-related ballot initiatives. “If abortion were a candidate, it would be on a winning streak. There hasn’t been a single election where abortion has been on the ballot and lost, it’s just one of those very salient fundamental basic rights.” 

Voter mobilization around the Florida ballot initiative could be critical to Báez-Geller winning her race. Although her district includes part of Miami, a city which has traditionally leaned blue, she faces a difficult general election. If she wins her primary Báez-Geller will face off against Rep. Salazar, the Republican incumbent with an A+ rating from the anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and who handily defeated her last Democratic opponent by nearly 15 points in the midterms

But Báez-Geller says what matters to her is sticking up for Floridians’ freedom.

“Here in Florida, especially, our freedoms are under attack like no other,” says Báez-Geller. “[My story] is a good example of what the government is taking away from us and how the government is trying to take control of our bodily autonomy. And when people find out, they become outraged. But they also become energized to know that they will have a say on the ballot this November, and when they vote, they will be voting for the candidates that will vote for freedom.”

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