TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Sponsored by Sen. Grall (R-Glades, Highlands, Indian River, Okeechobee, St. Lucie), SB 300 was hotly debated amongst senators and audience members for over four hours on Monday. Despite protests, it advanced.
Sen. Grall argued that the purpose of her bill is to protect the most innocent amongst us – the unborn. She explained that she firmly believes we should all have a deep respect for life and that this bill advances us, as a society, one step closer to furthering that respect and shifting culture in a positive way.
Despite Grall’s impassioned speech, she was met by fierce opposition from Sen. Lauren Book and Sen. Tracie Davis, both of whom argued that the bill would leave many women desperate and in life-threatening situations, especially women of color and those living in rural communities.
Senator Grall explained that the goal of this bill is not to make abortion access more difficult, but rather to protect the life of the unborn. She further explained that although two doctors are needed to approve of an abortion in cases of rape and incest, those doctors do not need to be OBGYNs – which would make it easier for women in areas with fewer physicians.
The debate between senators was followed by incredibly emotional testimonies given by both pro-life and pro-choice advocates who had traveled hours to testify for just 60 seconds. Members of Equality Florida expressed their immense disdain of the bill shouting, “your hypocrisy is reckless!” and “you are taking women’s lives!”
Pro-life attendees expressed their appreciation of the bill, but also emphasized that they think the bill should go even further and limit abortions entirely. A member of Florida’s Voice for The Unborn stated: “Another way to stop abortion is to help young mothers. This [bill] gives mothers real choice.”
A PERSONAL STORY
Personal testimonies were followed by final debate amongst senators. Sen. Davis began by sharing a personal story of how she underwent an abortion when she was younger and can’t imagine having to go through that with this bill in place.
Sen. Book followed Sen. Davis with an emotional testimony, decrying “this is the very opposite of the word we throw around so often here – freedom.”
CALATAYUD: LOYAL TO CONSTITUENTS
Debate was drawn to a close by Sen. Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami-Dade) who – despite her pro-life personal beliefs – said she cannot in good conscience vote yes on this bill. “I went and knocked door to door and spoke to my constituents when I was getting elected and I promised them I would leave the abortion ban to 15 weeks,” she said.
However, she went on to say “I believe women deserve better than abortion. And better than a culture that seems to constantly cheapen their dignity and worth… While I'm not supporting this bill today, I believe it will pass. And because of that, I believe it will change the hearts and minds of such an anti-life culture.”
SB 300 passed the committee with all Republican senators voting in favor of the bill except for Sen. Calatayud, who voted with her Democrat colleagues. Next, the bill will go to the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy.