Florida abortion ban bill nears House approval

HB 5, which would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks, appears set to pass the Florida House following a debate and vote coming up Wednesday.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 10:55 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2022 at 9:24 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Several hours of tense back-and-forth questioning Tuesday inside Florida’s House Chamber have set the stage.

HB 5, which would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks, appears set to pass the Florida House following a debate and vote Wednesday.

During questioning from skeptical Democratic lawmakers Tuesday, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall (R- Vero Beach) stood by her controversial bill.

“I have previously said that sometimes courts just get it wrong,” she said during the full House session.

Rep. Grall didn’t hide the fact that Florida’s bill mirror’s Mississippi’s law, which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on this summer and some believe could repeal Roe v. Wade.

Florida’s bill limits abortions after the fetus is 15 weeks old, about eight weeks earlier than current state law.

Limited exceptions include if the mother’s life is in danger or if the fetus has fatal abnormalities. Rape and incest exceptions are not included.

“Under this bill, we will end the most barbaric types of abortions, that is less than four percent of total abortions that occurred last year,” Rep. Grall said.

Policy Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Annie Fulkowski said she’s been frustrated every step of the way.

“[I’m] completely devastated to see the state I love so much, the privacy clause I love so much in the state constitution be completely ripped to shreds on the house floor today,” she said.

She’s referring to Article 1 Section 23 of the Florida Constitution, which protects one’s privacy and prevents intrusion from the government. The clause was brought up several times by Democratic lawmakers Tuesday.

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (D-Orlando) argued that Republicans were hypocritical when it came to that issue.

“This same body during the special session passed several measures around vaccine mandates,” she said. “I don’t understand why we want to mandate birth to Florida’s women.”

But other groups, including the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, are eagerly awaiting the next few days.

“All life is sacred and should be protected by law,” said Christine Arnold, Associate for Social Concerns and Respect Life.

Both sides expect the House to approve the bill after a lengthy debate Wednesday.

The companion bill in the senate passed one committee in early February and is currently in appropriations.

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