By Diane Roberts
OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE – Babies! Here in Florida, we love us some babies.
Unless they’re already born.
Then the little buggers become a bit of a problem, especially the nearly one in five who live in poverty and expect frills such as food, medical care, and a decent education.
But the Republican Herrenvolk of the Legislature don’t care about that part: They just want to make sure those feckless women who up and get pregnant can’t get an abortion after 15 weeks.
Even if they’re trafficked.
Even if they’re victims of incest.
Even if they’re raped.
Rep. David Borrero, mansplaining like a champ, claimed during the abortion bill’s first committee stop that 15 week-old fetuses can hear and “feel pain.”
This is, of course, only true in the fact-challenged alternate world of Florida Republicans.
Here on Planet Earth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says human fetuses do not have the “neural circuitry” to feel pain until around 24 weeks.
Nevertheless, the majority persists in their ignorance.
These are the same people, remember, cheerfully voting the governor’s pet quack into the important position of state surgeon general.
This would be Joseph Ladapo, who refuses to say whether he’s vaccinated, refused to wear a mask around a senator suffering from cancer, has recently been trashed by his own former supervisor at UCLA’s medical school, and makes common cause with an outfit called “America’s Frontline Doctors,” whose members include Jan. 6 rioters, a woman who thinks “demon sperm” causes illness, and an ivermectin hustler who lost her medical license in Alabama but remains legal to practice in Florida.
Obviously, he’s perfect for a job in the DeSantis administration.
We don’t do reality around here. Nor, apparently, compassion or respect for privacy rights.
The petty tyrants of the Florida Legislature talk like they’re actually doing pregnant women a favor: After all, they briefly considered pushing a Texas-style six-week bill where people rat each other out, but chose this more “moderate” measure.
It’s possible restricting abortion rights could be politically dangerous. Most Americans — 59 percent — support a woman’s right to an abortion in all or most cases, and it could be that anti-choice laws might rile Florida voters.
Republicans are betting it won’t matter.
One of the representatives who helped craft the legislation insisted Republicans’ motives are unimpeachable: “It has absolutely nothing to do with an election year,” said Rep. Colleen Burton.
Oh, of course not. Silly us. As we know, Florida’s ruling party is driven by the purest of reasons, passing laws that promote our freedom to die of COVID-19, our freedom to remain ignorant of America’s history, our freedom to avoid books that make us feel “uncomfortable,” and our freedom to suppress the votes of people who don’t support Republicans.
Now they’re extending this Republican altruism to abortion access to preserve the state’s right to ignore what women want, because women can’t be trusted to make the right decision.
One legislator actually said Florida’s 15 weeks is “generous.”
So be grateful, uterus-bearing Floridians!
These magnanimous Republicans will allow women and girls to have control over their own bodies until the fetus inside them gets to be about the size of an apple.
After that, ladies, you’re nothing but a “host body,” as former Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva famously said.
You want to terminate that pregnancy? Better get a move on.
Now it’s true that most abortions are performed during first trimester. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Or that those women don’t matter.
If you don’t have transportation or childcare or can’t get off work to go see a doctor until you’re a little too pregnant or if having a kid will crash your dreams of going to college or leave you financially devastated, too bad.
Now, if the baby shows a “fatal fetal abnormality” or presents “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function other than a psychological condition,” maybe you can get an abortion.
If two doctors say so, that is.
But if forced birth might harm your “psychological condition” — and the science shows it often does — you’re screwed.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, one of the sponsors of the 15-week bill, insists, “We’re not being mean.”
No, it’s not “mean” to force a 15 year-old girl, who may not even realize she’s pregnant ’til it’s too late (more common than you think) to give birth to a baby she doesn’t want.
It’s not “mean” to force continued pregnancy on a minimum wage worker struggling to scrape up enough money to get to a clinic and pay for an abortion only to find she’s a week past this arbitrary cut-off date.
Stargel (whose husband is the appeals court judge who tried to stop a high school junior from getting an abortion on the ground she can’t spell and uses “poor grammar”) and bill co-sponsor Rep. Erin Grall know that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to make their bill moot. With the Supremes’ Party of Jacob majority, Roe will almost certainly be destroyed or mortally wounded.
Meanwhile, Stargel, Grall, and their enablers in the Republican leadership can carry on pretending to care about children and women.
“My sister had an abortion when she was 20 years old. I love her, and I’m here doing this because I honor her,” testified Grall, wiping away reptilian tears. “We should honor people who have made this terrible decision because our government-sanctioned it.”
Yes, honor them by taking away their autonomy and denying them control over their own bodies.
Honor women by taking away their rights.
Only in dystopian Florida does this make any kind of sense.
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books.
Maybe someone should tell them how to avoid being in that predicament.
Sorry Erobot, birth control does not always work either, and sometimes actually places a women’s life in danger also if she becomes pregnant. But the state of FL obviously does not care…let her die so there are more babies for people wanting to adopt.
E, ROBOT says
There are fool (and I use the word advisedly) proof ways to a avoid being impregnated.
Love this article and the author’s writing style!
My stomach turned when she added this:
….ladies, you’re nothing but a “host body,” as former Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva famously said…….
Thank You Diane Roberts…I forwarded this to many.
If we will force women to continue a pregnancy will we also give them day care? Or will we berate them for “breeding ‘em” but can’t feed them. Will we pay a livingnwage so they can work AND afford day care or will we bad mouth them for staying home? Will we help gove them health insurance and food assistance? Can we provide free birth control? Or will married couples be allowed to have sex only when they are above the poverty level.
You are naive if you think these bills prevent a woman from terminating a pregnancy. I’m old enough to remember women bleeding to death from using knitting needles or coat hangers. That’s the alternative to legal abortion.
open your eyes says
OR,OR…hear me out here, we could could go BACK to being responsible adults and carefully plan pregnancies with husband and wife when they’re READY for this. We could go back to teaching morals and family values. We could go back to wholesome values and pass that on to our kids…..at this point it is beyond me how people use abortion as birth control instead .Perhaps the days of these principles are gone……hence, here we are
I wonder why men, mostly white are always telling people what they can and can’t do with their time and bodies. Look at history, the lynching years, anti abortion laws, African Americans can’t do or have. They can’t live in a certain part of town. The Indians, you know the death March in the country. So forth and so on. Why do white men tell other people what to do and they don’t know how to manage their own daily lives. White men please stay out if other people’s business.
I think a woman has the right to do whst she wants with her body. Soon these Repubs. Will dictate to a woman who she can have sex with and when to have sex. They are trying their best to make lives miserable for for the average American especially women and people of color, look at the laws they are pushing through. I don’t know why they are always trying to tell people what to do. White men please leave us alone you crazy Repubs. Why would a sane person vote for Repubs, will never understand.
@ Wow. . . a truly excellent comment!
Most of those opposing a woman’s right to privacy and control of her own body are only “pro fetus” . . . NOT “pro life”= “LINOS”.
@open your eyes. . . Why? Why? Why? are “your” eyes not open to the “rape and incest” that happens every day? Why are your eyes not open to “date rape” and even “marriage rape” . . . many horrific incidents that are never reported, often because they are so very difficult to prove. Why are “your” eyes not open to the political forces that oppose any kind of assistance to those thousands of single mothers, who oppose free birth control, who oppose adoption by gay couples. . . and on, and on?
Why are your eyes not open to the “real world”. . . beyond FOX and your smug ivory tower of contempt for anyone . . . let me guess:
* Not lily white?
* Not born in this country?
* Not Christian? . . . you know, like those hypocrites who claim to never have sex except to procreate
* Not wealthy, or even middle class
* Not worthy of your compassion?
Maybe a better handle for you would be “Eyes Wide Shut”!