TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — One of the legislative session’s most contentious bills passed its final committee Tuesday afternoon, designed to limit abortion access to six weeks. The bill was met with fierce opposition for over six hours, though this had little impact on its advancement to the Senate floor.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity as lawmakers to protect the lives of the unborn.” SB 300’s sponsor, Sen. Erin Grall (R-Fort Pierce) began. “Life is sacred and it must be protected.”
Sen. Grall’s legislation bans abortion access after six weeks, requiring a 24-hour waiting period prior to the abortion. The bill provides an exception for rape or incest until 15 weeks, though this exemption requires documented proof, such as medical records or police reports.
“I believe in the sanctity of life,” Sen. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) said, echoing his support. “And I believe that when we’re elected to these positions, that’s one of our greatest charges: to protect life.”
“ROSARIES OFF OF OUR OVARIES”
Emotions ran high in the day-long back-and-forth, with a number of doctors, women and activists speaking out in staunch disagreement.
“They’re disgusting, vile, people who should’ve been aborted themselves,” one University of South Florida student stated – referring to religious pro-life protesters he sees on campus. “Keep your rosaries off of our ovaries!” another protester exclaimed.
“WE ARE TAKING AWAY FREE WILL”
The Democratic legislators similarly opposed the bill, highlighting the lack of women’s choice in the legislation.
“Session after session we are going after women,” Sen. Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) stated. “Something had to happen for them to choose an abortion. It’s not an easy choice.”
Sen. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) concurred: “We were elected as legislators. This is a decision between a woman and her doctor. She didn’t ask her legislator to come into her house and help her make that decision.”
The opposition was rounded out by Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando), who stated that with this bill “We’re taking away free will. We’re taking away choice.”
“CULTURE OF DEATH”
Sen. Grall disagreed in her closing statement: “I’ve heard choice over and over again. At the end of the day, I present this bill to you because 82,192 children didn’t have a choice about whether their life would be taken from them.”
She continued: “It is this culture of death that we have normalized for 50 years. The purposeful termination of human life is not healthcare.”
Despite the highly intense debate spanning the Committee on Fiscal Policy, SB 300 slid by in a 12–7 vote, moving the bill onto the Senate floor in one of its final steps to becoming Florida law.