In what would be a monumental change, the Florida Senate on Monday passed a proposal aimed at preventing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 26-13 to approve the bill (SB 300), which will go to the House, where it is expected to pass. It comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling and left abortion decisions to the states.
The bill touched off heavy debate Monday that was interrupted by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, ordering the clearing of the Senate seating gallery because of repeated outbursts from audience members opposed to the bill.
Bill sponsor Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, said the bill supports a “culture of life” and that fetal heartbeats can be detected at six weeks of pregnancy.
“We have to rely on science, and what we know is that there is a heartbeat, there is a human life that exists, and we are either going to stand for life or not,” Grall said. “And this life deserves protecting.”
But Democrats said the bill would effectively ban abortion in Florida, in part because many women don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks. Opponents said it jeopardizes the health of women and that the government shouldn’t be involved in abortion decisions.
“We need to stop stigmatizing and shaming women for having an abortion. The vast majority of those abortions are very thought out. The women don’t have regrets. They do what they need to do to move on with their lives.” Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boca Raton, said. “This bill is cruel and inhumane to the families of Florida.”
The vote was along almost straight party lines, with Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, and Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, joining Democrats in opposing the bill.
Lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis last year passed a 15-week abortion limit But that came before the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
The proposed six-week limit includes a major caveat: Seven abortion clinics and a physician filed a constitutional challenge to the 15-week limit. A key issue in that case is whether the limit violates a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has helped protect abortion rights in the state for more than three decades.
Under the Senate bill, moving to a six-week limit would be contingent on the Florida Supreme Court effectively upholding the 15-week law. It is unclear when the court will rule on the challenge, though it probably will be after the legislative session.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office last week filed a brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to reject legal precedents that said the privacy right in the Constitution applies to abortion.
In addition to the six-week limit, the bill includes other proposed changes, such as requiring that abortion-inducing medication be provided in person by physicians and not through the mail. Also, the bill would prevent abortions from being provided through telehealth and would expand services provided through organizations that counsel women against abortions.
Last year’s 15-week law has drawn criticism because it does not include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The new bill would allow abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking, but it would require women to present documentation to prove they were victims. Such documentation could include restraining orders, police reports or medical records.
Florida lawmakers in recent years have gradually increased restrictions on abortions, but the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year opened the door for consideration of a six-week limit.
Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, said Monday the Senate was choosing to force an “extremist agenda” to essentially ban abortion in the state. She also described the issue as a war.
“We must all take up the fight, because this was never about life,” Book said. “It is and it always has been about control.”
But supporters of the bill said they are trying to protect life.
“We are bombarded with messages that abortion is essential for a woman’s autonomy and that it should be celebrated as a right,” Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, said. “However, we must not lose sight of the fact that abortion takes a human life.”
–Jim Saunders, Tom Urban News Service of Florida
David Schaefer says
Dumb ass Republicans you will be sorry when election time comes around again.
Get ready for teen pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies (adoptions and foster care) to be on the rise.
Provide $$ for funding including assisting women with child care expenses.
#1, #BanAssaultWeapons that kill our children. You know the ones with a heartbeat that you’re steadfast on protecting? Do your job and pass anti-gun laws that protect living children.
You can’t speak from both sides of your mouth. Do something about our gun laws. 2nd amendment was for militias not for citizens’s rights. Read it. Comprehend it. Govern accordingly.
What a bunch of real BAD people. The Republicans are simply hell-bent. Period. See you in 2024, you cravens– and nevermore.
Good job Republicans, slap your supporters where it hurts. Tell women they can’t have abortions, unless male republicans make them pregnant then it is o.k. to abort. This is what happens when Democrats don’t vote. No African American History taught in school, some African American Books are banned from libraries and schools, along with other authors books. Democrats the Republicans are giving us a winning message and platform we need to use them wisely. Don’t forget Republicans were elected in masses last November, let us elect Democrats in masses come November 2024. Come on voters we can take a lot of seats from the Republicans, we can do this. Will we?
What next? Are they going to make it illegal for women to vote, be employed, own property? There are so many things they should be working on instaed of right wing anti woke rhings rhat the majority of voters do not want. They could be fixing the insurance issues, sea level rise, and high property tax. But no. They would rather mess with Disney, ban books, ban LBGQT, and stop people from excersizing the right to protest ot comment on elected officials.
I hope everyone remembers this come election season and replaces all of these jokers with true representatives of the people and not party hacks
Miss M says
You forgot monitoring young women’s periods….yes. Nuts.
He’s out of control and the state legislators are right behind him.
Vote Then ALL OUT
The dude says
This only ends once those who are protesting, apply that same zeal to actual voting.
I know it’s not as much fun standing inline for hours, just to punch a button, as it is taking to the streets and vocalizing your dissent. But votes are much much more powerful than marching, yelling and placards.
Voting is the ultimate form of protest.
Ben Hogarth says
It’s a shame Republicans are so focused on the heart(beat) when they should be focused on the brain – because I’m convinced most of them wouldn’t pass the “Turing” test, let alone establish any modicum of critical thought.
They’ll lose this battle ultimately, but between this bill and the development bills they’ve passed this year – they’ve guaranteed Florida will turn totally blue in the coming years and decades. Urbanization breeds liberalism and progressivism. And they have all but guaranteed that urbanization will be widespread throughout the state moving forward.
So congratulations on your temporary reprieve from accountability to the masses and majority rule. Enjoy it while it lasts.
They wouldn’t pass Turing’s test; just as they consistently fail the test of how, a Turing, should be treated by fellow human beings.
I appreciate, and agree with your POV. After 30 years of this shit — it’s small satisfaction.
Tony Mack says
Florida Republican Tallahassee Taliban Strikes Again…Republicans — always Practicing Medicine Without a License…and they will get away with it because the Tallahassee Tyrant approves.
Deborah Coffey says
Just how many pregnant women, many who are already mothers, are these Republicans willing to kill to satisfy their lust for power? And, how many doctors are willing to let them die on the table?
Here we ago, returning to the back alley abortions by unscrupulous medical personnel. Who the hell are these people to decide what a woman can do with her body. Who is going to support children who are not wanted and could possibly end up being abused or worse. I know the best defense is to use birth control or refrain from having sex but this is the real world.