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For some, Florida's abortion bill is a 'fight for life'; for others, it's a 'fight for freedom'

State Rep. Anna Eskamani
The Florida Channel
State Rep. Anna Eskamani speaks during the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee on Jan. 19.

Florida senators this week will start considering a proposal that would prevent physicians from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Florida senators this week will start considering a proposal that would prevent physicians from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, one of the most-controversial issues of the 2022 legislative session.

The proposal has companion legislation in the House. It was approved Thursday in a 10-5 vote in the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. It also earlier cleared the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee. It needs approval from the House Health & Human Services Committee before it can go to the full House.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled Wednesday to take up the proposal (SB 146), filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

Stargel released a statement saying that “women and children deserve better than abortion.” Stargel also talked about her personal experience as a “scared teenage mother” who understands the turmoil of facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

The bill does include an exception, such as when a doctor says the fetus has a fatal abnormality, but it does not allow exceptions for rape or incest. The measure was modeled after Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act. Current Florida law bans abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

The House version is sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, Grail said the bill is a “fight for life”. 

“We killed over 25% of Florida’s children in 2020. And that’s an atrocity,” Grall said. “What about the basic human rights and freedoms of those children? What about the privilege that has been stripped away from those children? That child will be born a human being, like you and I, with all of the rights and privileges that we have to live in this country.”

Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, spoke out in opposition to the bill during Professions & Public Health panel debate on Jan.19. She said it would strip away freedom from half of the state’s population. 

“I have a deep sense of irony in my blood as I hear this debate, especially since it was just last November when the word ‘freedom’ was said so many times on the House floor during the COVID-19 special session,” Eskamani said. “Yet, here we are about to strip away freedom for more than half of Florida’s population. Let us be clear — this is not a moderate bill. There is no such thing as a reasonable abortion ban.”

Eskamani discussed the issue as “hypocrisy at its worst” and that Florida lawmakers who vote in favor of the bill are “turning their backs” on Floridians.

“This is a body that prioritizes wealthy individuals and corporations over working-class and poor Floridians, and we’re here to make sure those folks are not forgotten and that they have the same ability to express bodily autonomy as anyone else.”

WMFE reached out to Grall and Stargel for comment but did not hear back.

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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