Protests continue as Florida Senate prepares to vote on six-week abortion ban

Protests continue against six-week abortion ban
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 8:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Protests continue as Florida lawmakers consider legislation to ban abortion at six weeks.

The House version of the bill will have its last committee hearing Thursday morning. The Senate version is scheduled to be heard by the full Senate Thursday afternoon.

At a rally Wednesday, protesters called on Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to reject the legislation. They argued that it will disproportionately impact women who don’t have the money to travel to another state to get an abortion.

Senate Bill 300 provides exceptions for rape or incest, and the bill includes language aiming to protect the lives of mothers. But Democrats argue the bill makes it difficult for women who fall into these categories to benefit from these exceptions because it will be challenging to meet the rules’ qualifications.

In a committee meeting Tuesday, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Erin Grall, said her goal is to protect unborn children.

“For decades now, Florida has been a nationwide leader in defending the rights of the unborn,” Grall said. “The legislation before you today will make Florida a beacon of hope for those who understand that life is sacred and must be protected.”

But pro-choice advocates argue the bill is an attack on women’s reproductive freedom.

“We’re here expressing our outrage that this abortion ban is even being considered, while abortion rights are advancing in other parts of the world,” said Andrea Mercado with Florida Rising at Wednesday’s rally. “Across Latin America, you’re seeing legalization of abortion and decriminalization of abortion. Here in Florida, we’re marching backwards.”

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Republicans rejected two amendments proposed by Democrats. One of them would have provided an exception if giving birth would cause the mother severe mental impairment. The other would have removed the 24-hour waiting period required before a woman can get an abortion.

Florida’s current 15-week abortion ban is being challenged in the state Supreme Court. The court would need to uphold the 15-week ban for the proposed six-week ban to take effect if it’s signed into law.