By Dave Andrusko
Following an emotional exchange, the Florida Senate on Monday endorsed Senate Bill 300 which prohibits abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, around six-weeks.
SB 300, which passed on 26-13 vote, is expected to win House approval and be signed into law by pro-life Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Bodily autonomy should not give a person the permission to kill an innocent human being,” said Sen. Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill. “We live in a time where the consequences of our actions are an afterthought and convenience has been substitution for responsibility, and this is unacceptable when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable.”
Grall added, “We have all been touched by abortion, and we will continue to be, but I believe we can show each other love and compassion as we move to a culture of life, one which respects every single life that should be here with us today and in the future.”
The influence of the legislation extends far beyond Florida. “The ban, should it go into effect, has wide-reaching implications for both Florida and the South,” according to Kathryn Varn. “As states including Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana moved to ban abortion outright in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Florida became a haven state for women from those states to obtain abortions.”
Varn pointed out that SB 300 “includes exceptions for victims of rape, incest and human trafficking to undergo the procedure up to 15 weeks of pregnancy.” In addition, it “also maintains exceptions to save the life of the mother and, up to the third trimester, in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, as long as two physicians certify those circumstances in writing.”
The proposal “includes $25 million to expand services provided by state-contracted pregnancy crisis centers to support new parents,” Vann reported.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Ashley Moody is urging the state Supreme Court to uphold HB 5, the 15-week abortion ban. The Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality bill took effect in July.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper agreed with the seven abortion clinics and physician Shelly Hsiao-Ying Tien that the law violated the state Constitution and issued a temporary injunction. But a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the injunction, ruling that the plaintiffs could not show “irreparable harm” from the 15-week limit.
The appeals court’s decision allowed the 15-week limit to take effect, and the plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the temporary injunction. Justices in January agreed to take up the case, which also involves arguments about the “irreparable harm” issue.
Late Wednesday, Moody’s office “filed a 67-page brief arguing that justices should rule that a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution does not protect abortion rights and that past rulings on the issue were ‘clearly erroneous,’” according to Jim Saunders, writing for the News Service of Florida. The brief went further saying the Legislature should make decisions about limitations on abortion.