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Florida Republicans craft restrictive abortion law Democrats have little power to stop





The vote board reveals the tally as the parental consent abortion bill is passed 75 to 43 in the Florida House on Feb. 20, 2020.

The state Home and Senate on Tuesday rolled out similar laws spelling out the coverage, which has similarities to one authorized by lawmakers in Mississippi in 2018. | Steve Cannon/AP Picture

TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers in Florida are planning to go laws this yr that will drastically restrict how and when folks can entry abortions, a transfer positive to inflame rising tensions nationally over conservative efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Republicans who management the Florida Legislature have spent months crafting the proposal after Texas lawmakers in Could banned all abortions after six weeks of being pregnant and opened up abortion suppliers to lawsuits from personal people. They settled on a much less excessive however nonetheless restrictive measure that can anger Democrats and abortion rights advocates throughout the nation: A ban on abortion after 15 weeks besides if two docs agree a fetus is affected by a deadly abnormality. There aren’t any exceptions for rape or incest. Current Florida law restricts abortions after 24 weeks.

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The state Home and Senate on Tuesday rolled out similar laws spelling out the coverage, which has similarities to one authorized by lawmakers in Mississippi in 2018. Particulars of the brand new proposal had been first reported Tuesday morning by POLITICO.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s up for reelection this fall, broadly prompt help for any measure that limits entry to abortion.

“I believe there’s a whole lot of pro-life laws, and we can be welcoming it,” DeSantis stated throughout a press convention on the state Capitol, the place the 2022 legislative session was simply starting on Tuesday. “Having protections make a whole lot of sense.”

DeSantis joined 5 different governors in signing a July amicus transient asking the Supreme Courtroom to overturn Roe by supporting the Mississippi law.

Democrats, who have little power within the Florida Legislature, have been publicly condemning restrictive abortion measures forward of the session. However with no precise invoice to rail towards till now, they have been largely confined to highlighting the affect of the Mississippi and Texas legal guidelines.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a progressive Democrat from Orlando, prompt the talk over abortion would turn out to be one of many largest coverage fights in Florida this yr — doubtlessly shaping midterm elections throughout the battleground state and driving conversations in Washington.

“I actually do stress it to people to bear in mind, we’re speaking about folks in your districts who discover themselves in these delicate conditions and deserve and have a constitutional proper to choices and deciding what to do,” Eskamani stated.

Florida Democrats have filed proactive laws that will protect abortion entry, together with a measure by state Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) that will contradict the kind of laws introduced on Tuesday. However with little say over what occurs within the Legislature, Democrats have no likelihood of seeing this invoice succeed.

“I believe a part of our efforts collectively is to not enable the Republican Social gathering to set the purpose posts for us,” Eskamani stated.

Florida’s legislative battle over abortion entry mirrors the continued nationwide debate over reproductive rights after passage of the Texas and Mississippi legal guidelines, each of which stay in authorized limbo. A pending Supreme Courtroom ruling on Mississippi’s 15-week ban may upend the excessive court docket’s 1973 Roe resolution by permitting different states to extra aggressively limit abortion entry and slender the medical exceptions.

Whereas Florida lawmakers routinely take into account — and shoot down — strict abortion bans throughout every legislative session, this yr appears totally different. GOP lawmakers seem much more receptive to proscribing abortion even when they don’t plan to pursue a Texas-style law that enables personal residents to sue abortion suppliers. The 6-week ban within the Texas law was a part of early talks amongst Florida Republicans who wrote the brand new abortion invoice, however lawmakers settled on the 15-week ban because the most secure route to get round Roe and the state privateness clause.

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The Senate model of the invoice, FL SB146 (22R), was filed Tuesday by state Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), who has filed a number of different abortion-related payments throughout her time within the chamber. This yr’s proposal is essentially the most restrictive one legislative leaders have thought of.

“Having as soon as been a scared teenage mom myself, I perceive the turmoil of a lady dealing with an unplanned being pregnant,” Stargel stated in an announcement. “Ladies and youngsters deserve higher than abortion.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson has stated he doesn’t help the civil enforcement provision of the Texas law, however he has not but commented publicly on the brand new proposal Home Speaker Chris Sprowls on Tuesday stated the invoice launched Tuesday “considerably narrows the out there window for elective abortions whereas offering new assets and applications to cut back toddler mortality in Florida.”

State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), who’s in line to succeed Simpson as Senate president subsequent yr, opposes the civil-lawsuit bounty strategy to imposing the Texas law. Passidomo in October expressed curiosity in proscribing abortion past the state’s present 24-week limits.

The Home model, FL HB5 (22R), can be sponsored by Home Judiciary Chair Erin Grall (R-Vero Seashore).

“I’m proud to help this laws as a capstone to my combat for all times within the Florida Home,” Grall stated.

Democrats see hope on the native stage. Eskamani pointed to not less than 14 municipalities and counties with just lately authorized measures that intention to shield abortion entry.

St. Petersburg Council Member Darden Rice, whom Eskamani heralded as one of many first elected officers to push for a protecting measure, stated the Republican legislative push confirmed why the native legal guidelines are nonetheless necessary.

“Now’s the time to acknowledge these anti-abortion threats and to spotlight how native officers like proper right here in St. Petersburg are stepping up to acknowledge our communities to push again towards these state assaults,” Rice stated.

Efforts to ban abortions there have not been as profitable. The Manatee County Fee mentioned plans to undertake a standing of “Protected Haven” for unborn kids. Republican state Legal professional Basic Ashley Moody, nevertheless, rejected that plan in December. In doing so, she pointed to a earlier legal professional common’s resolution to block an similar plan in one other group in 1985. In a letter this month, Moody’s legal professional wrote that native law can’t hinder the intent of a state law. The letter additionally signifies pending laws.

One of many forces behind the scuttled Manatee County plans was Mark Lee Dickson, the architect of the Texas abortion law who additionally serves because the director of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative and head of the Proper to Lifetime of East Texas. Dickson wrote in an electronic mail that localities throughout Florida that already have no abortion amenities ought to ignore Moody’s opinion and nonetheless go native bans.

“Counties and cities in Florida, which don’t have an abortion facility, shouldn’t use the opinion of the Florida AG’s Workplace as an excuse to abandon their consideration of outlawing abortion on the native stage,” Dickson wrote. “There’s a manner for cities and counties to outlaw abortion in Florida that’s in keeping with the legal guidelines of their state.”

Dickson stated his efforts helped spur bans in 22 Texas cities earlier than the Heartbeat Act was authorized in September.

“It’s what’s in the perfect curiosity of the well being and security of all of their residents,” Dickson wrote.

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