TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On a cloudy Tuesday outside the Florida Capitol, dozens of pro-life activists rallied to address members of the legislature regarding the state’s legal protections for abortion. Unlike many pro-life protests, their message was not directed at the pro-choice Democrat party. Rather, they directed grievances to members of the Republican party, who now hold a supermajority in both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives.
While the Legislature’s Organizational Session served as little more than a formality, where new members took their oaths of office, the activists took the opportunity to advocate for the total abolition of abortion in Florida.
THOUSANDS OF SIGNATURES
Protesters chanted “Protection at conception!” “No more excuses!” and “Pro-life Republicans, step up!” from inside the Capitol rotunda. The sound of their voices could be heard behind closed doors inside the House chamber. Many of the protesters also held signs that matched their chants as well as some that displayed familiar pro-life messages, such as “Every Life is a gift from God” and “Baby Lives Matter.”
The rally was led by Florida’s Voice for the Unborn. In addition to their presence inside the building, the group also delivered thousands of signed postcards calling for the abolition of abortion to House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
The cards stated: “Dear Florida Legislature, The ‘Free State of Florida’ cannot be truly free until you act to make it TOTALLY abortion free! In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade I request that you promptly pass legislation protecting all unborn children, from the moment of conception. Now is the time to end abortion in Florida forever! **NO MORE EXCUSES**”
WILL REPUBLICANS END ABORTION IN FLORIDA?
With a supermajority in both the House and Senate, Republicans have the necessary power to provide legal protection for every human fetus from the moment of conception. It remains unclear, however, if they are interested in pursuing that.
When speaking with reporters on Tuesday, neither Passidomo nor Renner offered anything likely to placate the calls for ending abortion in the state. Passidomo deferred to the Florida Supreme Court’s pending ruling on the current law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said about the possibility of extending protections for the preborn. “Until the Supreme Court weighs in on the 15 weeks, there’s really not much we can do.”
SPECIAL SESSION UNLIKELY
Earlier this month, Passidomo said she would support a 12-week ban if it included exceptions that allow women who conceived children via rape and incest to get abortions. Trimming three weeks off the current gestation deadline would yield relatively minimal change to the status quo in Florida given that roughly 90 percent of abortions occur during the first trimester.
Renner said he does not expect abortion to be added to a special session planned for sometime next month, suggesting it’s reserved for “things that have a time-sensitive nature.”
“I can guarantee you members on both sides have very different opinions about what it means to be pro-life, so I think that will be a conversation we have going forward,” Renner said.
WE’RE NOT GOING TO GO AWAY
Most of the pro-life activists lingered at the capitol long after the session concluded. The group gathered outside on the steps of the state’s original Capitol building. Andrew Shirvell, founder and executive director for Florida Voice for the Unborn, addressed the crowd with calls for persistence in speaking up for the voiceless.
“We want everyone to know that we are here,” Shirvell said. “And we’re not going to go away until we get the job done.”