This week, the Florida House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee will take up a piece of legislation that could ban abortions in Florida after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, HB 5, is sponsored by Florida State. Rep. Erin Grall (R-FL-54).
The bill is similar to a Mississippi abortion law that is currently being heard by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has said that he would likely support the legislation.
“I think if you look at what’s been done in some of these other states—I mean, when you start talking about 15 weeks where you have really serious pain and heartbeats and all this stuff—having protections I think is something that makes a lot of sense,” DeSantis said.
“Protecting life does not end with the unborn,” DeSantis said. “It must also include continued efforts to promote adoption and foster care so that all Floridians have a fair chance in life.”
Florida Republican legislative leadership, House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-FL-65) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-FL-10), are encouraged that the bill would pass the legislature and be sent to the governor’s desk.
“I think it’s a very good start and I think it’s something the committee process will vet out and perhaps be on the floor at some point,” said Simpson. “I’ve been pro-life all of my life.”
Unsurprisingly, Florida’s Democrats and abortion activists have voiced their opposition to the bill.
“When we look at abortion as an issue, it’s not even a culture war issue, it is health care,” State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-FL-47) said. “So how dare you strip away our rights in this new piece of policy, which is a direct assault on the protection established under Roe v. Wade. And if Roe were overturned and if this bill were to become law, if you needed to access an abortion beyond 15 weeks, the closest state for you is North Carolina.”
A political science professor at Nova Southeastern University said DeSantis’ support for this bill could backfire for Republicans.
“If people on the Democratic side feel they have lost rights they feel were established, the right for a woman to have an abortion, it could result in enormous energy flowing into the Democratic side,” said Dr. Charles Zelden.
The House bill has companion Senate legislation sponsored by State Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-FL-22).
“I feel very strongly that life begins at conception, but we’re making some combination that makes sure that women do have an option through those first 15 weeks, and then after that, the baby is important and we’re going to recognize that,” Stargel said.
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