Florida lawmakers to consider two abortion-related bills in 2024

Two bills focus on abortion laws
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:58 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Editor’s Note: For additional information on Florida Right to Life’s position on this topic, you can watch a full interview with Lynda Bell at the bottom of this story.

Florida lawmakers will consider changes to the state’s abortion laws when it returns in January.

Two bills addressing abortion were filed in the 2024 legislature less than a month after the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on the 15-week ban signed into law in 2022.

The ban criminalizes someone for participating in an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Women and girls in our state will die and suffer. Women will suffer because of these bans,” Sen. Lauren Book, (D) Minority Leader, said.

Book is proposing a law that makes it clear women who are looking for an abortion wouldn’t face criminal charges. She said the clarification is needed because the law could be open to interpretation.

“We wanted to make sure the letter of the law followed the spirit of the law, and they were matched and linked,” Book said.

The Democrat drew attention after she was arrested in Tallahassee earlier this year while protesting Florida’s latest abortion ban. The charges related to that arrest were later dropped.

But some anti-abortion rights advocates like Florida Right to Life President Lynda Bell said Book’s bill isn’t necessary.

“We are absolutely opposed to that. Often, we believe, those women, some of them are very young girls, some are young women, some are older, we believe they are being victimized as well,” Bell said.

For the third year in a row, a Republican introduced legislation that would change the abortion ban in Florida. The bill Rep. Fabian Basabe, (R) Miami Beach, filed this week would move it to a 12-week ban, which Bell said is “premature.”

“Why would you put forth any legislation like that until you know what the Supreme Court has ruled? That’s kind of strange to me,” Bell said.

It could take several months for the Florida Supreme Court to issue a ruling on the 15-week ban.

If the ban is upheld, the even stricter 6-week ban passed earlier this year would automatically take effect about a month after the court issues its decision. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed that law in April.

There is also a citizen initiative underway to let Florida voters decide next year if abortion should be legal. Organizers have collected more than 700,000 signatures so far.

In 2022, National Right to Life signed onto a letter to lawmakers saying in part “We state unequivocally that we do not support any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women and we stand firmly opposed to include such penalties in legislation.” You can read that letter here.