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Anti-Abortion Bills Pass Through Angry Debate As Florida Creeps Closer to Embryo Rights

| April 19, 2013

(Leo Reynolds)

(Leo Reynolds)

After tense debate that included allegations of lying and large-scale eugenics, the House on Thursday passed a measure banning abortions meant to avoid having a baby of a particular gender or race.

The House also on Thursday passed a measure that adds criminal penalties in some cases for harming or killing an unborn child in the act of harming or killing its mother, a measure that opponents said opened the door to granting rights to embryos in an attempt to further the anti-abortion movement.

Both bills passed easily, mostly along party lines with Republicans in favor, but still need approval from a Senate that has been less likely to push hard for abortion measures in recent years.

The debate over the bill (HB 845) prohibiting “sex-selective” or “race-selective” abortions was particularly strident and heated, leading tempers to flare.

Its sponsor, Rep. Charles Van Zant, alleged that Planned Parenthood puts its abortion clinics disproportionately in minority neighborhoods – a charge the organization denies – and said that abortion has done more to reduce the size of the African-American population than any other danger that community might face – calling it government-funded “eugenics.”

“So without the Nazi holocaust, without the Ku Klux Klan, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists have reduced our black population by 25 percent since 1973,” said Van Zant, a Keystone Heights Republican who is white.

Rep. Darryl Rouson, who is black, said he was “insulted,” by the context, accusing Van Zant of using protection of African Americans to advance an anti-abortion agenda.

Rouson said if people were concerned about “genocide” of the African American population, lawmakers should change criminal punishment policies improve the education system.

“I can think of some pro life things we could do,” said Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

Another African-American Democrat, Rep. Cynthia Stafford of Miami, said the notion that backers of the bill were standing up against discrimination against blacks and women was “a bold-faced lie.”

The bill wouldn’t punish the woman seeking the abortion for doing so to avoid having a child of a particular race or gender, but would prohibit abortion providers from knowingly performing one before signing an affidavit that they aren’t doing so due to the child’s sex or race. Doing so would be a third degree felony, and if someone knows about such abortions and doesn’t report them, they could face a civil penalty.

The measure also authorizes the fathers of unborn children and grandparents in some cases to sue if a woman does have an abortion based on gender or race.

The bill passed 71-44.

Planned Parenthood released a statement calling the bill “primarily a political tactic of those who oppose safe and legal abortion,” and, citing a census of known abortion providers, said that fewer than 1 in 10 abortion clinics are in majority black neighborhoods.

Earlier Thursday, the House passed by a 74-43 vote a bill that creates a legal definition of an unborn child and makes it a separate crime if an unborn child is harmed or killed when a pregnant woman is injured or dies as the result of a crime.


The language defining unborn child is already in federal law, defining it as “a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” The same, or similar language is in place in several other states.

But opponents said it opens the door in Florida to broader protections for embryos, which could lead to infringements on the right to abortion.

Rep Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said the bill “elevated the status of a fertilized egg” to that of a full human being.

But Rep. Ray Rodrigues said most members of the House, and many people in Florida, already believe that unborn children are living human beings, and made no apologies for trying to extend additional protections to them that go as far as possible under the law of the land. He told a story about how he, like other expecting parents, talked to his child in the womb, and that when his son was born during a complication in his wife’s pregnancy and at first was unresponsive, the child responded to his voice.

“The real question is, are the unborn worthy of our protection?” said Rodrigues, R-Estero. “….They are alive, and they are children and they deserve our protection.”

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “Anti-Abortion Bills Pass Through Angry Debate As Florida Creeps Closer to Embryo Rights”

  1. Sherry Epley says:

    Be PRO-BIRTH is definitely NOT the same as being PRO-LIFE!

    And what about AFTER a child is born??? An excellent article from Jennifer Granholm:

    Republicans: What About Children Outside the Womb?

    The Republican Party platform includes support for the “Human Life Amendment,” also known as HR 212. It gives a fertilized egg inside the womb the same rights as a person outside the womb. It’s designed to ban all abortions.

    Now, we all know how deeply the issue of abortion hits people — in both parties. It’s hard. It’s sensitive and personal, and there are no easy answers. But even if we are divided over the question of when life begins, one thing we should agree on is this: Vulnerable children outside the womb deserve at least as much focus and care as those not yet born. Shouldn’t those concerned about the lives of the unborn be equally concerned about the lives of the recently born?

    I’m honestly perplexed about the distinction represented by the cervical wall. On one side, people should be prosecuted if they do anything to harm the fetus, but once on the outside, sorry kid, whatever happens happens. You’re on your own.

    A 71-year-old viewer wrote to me this weekend and got me thinking about the terms we use in the debate: “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice.” Democrats have allowed the Republicans to frame the issue and have ceded the territory of “life.”

    Republicans are definitely pro-birth (they’ll do everything they can to make sure that that baby comes out, regardless of how it got in), but are they pro-life?

    Can you be pro-life and vote to cut funding that supports the life of a child? Paul Ryan’s cut-at-all-costs budget and philosophy, which 100 percent of the pro-life Republicans voted for, would gut the funding that supports at-risk babies and children: food stamps, temporary assistance to needy families, day care, Head Start, early childhood education, children’s health care.

    At the state level GOP governors are cutting the child protection workers who handle child abuse and neglect cases — you know, those awful public employees who must have caused the financial crisis. Programs that would benefit at-risk children outside the womb are all on the chopping block.

    For example, Republicans have introduced HR 3803, a bill called the “Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” And the bill to protect born children from pain is…?

    Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, had this to say on Bill Moyers’ show in November of 2004:

    I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

    So true, Sister Joan. I say Democrats should not be afraid to talk about the morality of life, of caring for children who are born. It seems the Republican obsession with being pro-life lasts about nine months. After that, it’s each baby for herself. So Democrats, let’s be clear and strong: Being pro-birth is not automatically the same thing as being pro-life.

    Originally aired on The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. The War Room airs weeknights at 9 p.m. EST on Current TV. Follow Jennifer Granholm on Facebook and Twitter, and The War Room on Facebook and Twitter.

  2. L.D. Ablo says:

    Evidently Mr. Rodrigues missed the news article where the Catholic Hospital,which was being sued for wrongful death in the case of a newborn, argued successfully in court that a fetus is not a person until it is born.This papist organization which touts itself as a bastion of morality and compassion then went on to file a civil suit against the grieving parents.
    The real answer Mr. Rodrigues,is that it’s the mother’s decision as to whether or not she cares to bring a child into this world.

  3. Magnolia says:

    All babies deserve our protection, Sherry. How many millions have been slaughtered and thrown out in the trash while political opponents argue over this?

    And i think that because there is a budget battle going on…to accuse Congress of being murderers of children is over the top. if i disagree with you, i am a bigot, or a racist.

    I say people let’s be clear and strong and stop dividing ourselves over this issue. We are each responsible for the choices we make in life, the actions we take. To attempt to make that political, someone else responsible, is garbage.

  4. Um... says:

    We are responsible for ourselves and our actions, with that said, it is still my choice if I want to have a child or not, especially if that child was conceived through rape or incest. To deny a woman the choice with what she can and cannot do with her body eliminates the power and freedom a woman has over her body. Was it the fetus’ fault it was conceived out of a brutal act such as rape or incest? No, however, it was not the woman’s fault either and to deny her that right, is to continually punish her, over and over again. Alternatively, it is her choice should she decide to carry to term and give the child up for adoption or keep it. Again, it is and should be her choice. How many children that are beaten, abused, mistreated, harmed or put in the system are children born because a woman was denied or could not obtain an abortion, either because of funding, support or location? Is it better to have that child beaten every day of its life, or abused in some way, or mistreated delivering a psychological shock that will damage them, perhaps forever, which will place them in another system – the criminal system. I’m not implying or stating that a woman should have an abortion if she conceived a child through rape or incest, what I’m saying is it should always be a woman’s choice. I’m not picking up the pieces of these broken children in foster care, on the street, or already living a life of crime and yet I should chastise a woman because she decided to have an abortion rather than give birth? Why? What is the purpose? I have known a few women throughout my life that had abortions – one was raped and the other was not financially able to care for the child. While I do not agree with friend #2 because it was her choice to engage in extracurricular activities that led to her eventual abortion, I still supported her because it was a terrible decision for her to have to make and she lives with it daily. Friend #1 doesn’t so much think of the abortion anymore but still has nightmares and problems getting close to people because of the rape. Each of these women made a decision regarding what was best for them, therefore who am I to judge or admonish them? Last time I checked, that was not my responsibility either for those who judge will be judged most harshly in the end.

  5. stevie says:

    Human beings procreate other human beings. There is never a time when a human being is anything other than a human being no matter what stage of development according to DNA analysis. Therefore there is never a time when an unborn child is part of the mothers body. Human beings are not property and they are no less human or being due to their age. At birth the human being is no more human or being than when it was unborn, it is simply outside the mother’s body.

    It is murder to kill human beings without due process.

  6. Stevie says:

    “To deny a woman the choice with what she can and cannot do with her body eliminates the power and freedom a woman has over her body.”

    Female unborn babies will agree with you. When they are aborted their freedom is robbed.

  7. Andy Nonymous says:

    No, Stevie, your gross oversimplification is typical mantra of pro-life supporters. What you seem to not understand is that, yes, a human zygote is human, but it is not A human. There is a BIG difference. A zygote is a cell that has not developed the characteristics of what makes us human – a functioning brain, nervous system, bones or skin. It’s like calling a chunk of metal an automobile.

    To call these people ‘murderers’ is utterly reprehensible.

  8. Sherry Epley says:

    @um. . . says Thank you for your comments. . . very well said! To say a woman should be treated as no better than cattle. . . . and that she should be required, completely against her will, to carry, deliver, and be responsible for a fetus is completely outrageus and against HER civil rights.

  9. Karma says:

    @Andy
    Why don’t we use that same logic with animals you speak of?

  10. rickg says:

    I guess all of our identifications will be incorrect if this bill becomes law. Your birthdate will be irrelevant it will be your conception date…. I guess then those religious people will now become “concieved agains” This whole arguement is bogus. Why should women have to go through something like an unwanted birth just because they are the vessels to do so… And why don’t I hear more from the so called “Pro Lifers” about fetuses being blown into a red mist in Iraq and Afghanistan???

  11. Karma says:

    Sherry
    What is the difference of a fertilized or unfertilized egg in a nest compared to one in the womb? Yet the in the nest is protected by the same people that will not protect one in the the womb.

  12. Stevie says:

    “yes, a human zygote is human, but it is not A human.”

    If a zygote isn’t A human, than what is it? Animal, plant, water, air, etc?

    A slave wasn’t a human being in this country until given freedom by another human being. You simply treat zygotes like the slaves of early America. You deny the natural process of life to proceed.

    My father was a rapist. My mother didn’t murder me because she knew I wasn’t guilty of anything.

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