Abortion debate to be front and center in 2020 Fla. legislative session

Cropped Photo: Wolfgang Moroder / CC BY-SA 3.0
Cropped Photo: Wolfgang Moroder / CC BY-SA 3.0(WNDU)
Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 5:24 PM EST
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

January 3, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Florida lawmakers have filed a dozen bills dealing with abortion for the 2020 session.

Pro-choice advocate Lauren Brenzel with Planned Parenthood said everything is on the line.

“If 2019 told us anything it's that attempting to restrict abortion is unfortunately on anti-abortion legislators' minds,” said Brenzel.

One bill would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which could be as early as six weeks.

It’s likely dead on arrival according to Senate President Bill Galvano.

“That's a tougher issue to get through,” said Galvano.

But legislation that would require minors to get parental consent before having an abortion is moving full speed ahead.

“This is something to support the family and require the kids to have a conversation about something so weighty with their parents,” said Senate sponsor Kelli Stargel.

It’s already teed up for a floor vote in the House, and the Senate President expects it to pass its second Senate committee during the first week of the 2020 session.

While the parental consent bill isn't the most restrictive abortion bill filed this year, it could act as a test to see how far the newly conservative State Supreme Court is willing to allow lawmakers to go.

Pro Choice advocates fear the court could overturn a previous ruling that found a similar law violated the Privacy Clause in the state constitution.

“We have a higher constitutional protection for access to abortion than actually the United States Constitution and it's one of the reasons why Florida functions differently than other states in the South. Why we don't see that massive restriction,” said Brenzel.

That could open the door for even more restrictive abortion laws, including the heartbeat bill.

Heartbeat laws have been passed in 10 states and is expected to pass an eleventh later this month.

Courts have temporarily blocked or struck the laws so far in every state.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a State Senator has put forth a proposed constitutional amendment, which would prohibit either chamber from passing restrictions on abortion unless half of the members are women.

So far it has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Copyright 2020 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.

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