October 1, 2022

REGRESSION: GOP legislature in Florida passes new restrictions on women’s rights

REGRESSION: GOP legislature in Florida passes new restrictions on women's rights

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On the evening of March 3, the same day that over 3000 students walked out of school in protest of the recently passed House anti-LGBTQ  “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Florida’s GOP-led legislature continued its mission of suppressing the rights of those they wish to silence, with its Senate passing the state’s strictest abortion bill to date, HB5.

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Introduced in January of this year,  the bill reduces a woman’s ability to get an abortion from 24 weeks to 15 weeks, with no exceptions for incest, rape, or trafficking. A medical exemption is in the Florida bill, but it requires two doctors’ written testaments confirming it.

Those opposed to the Florida anti-abortion bill criticized the removal of amendments containing the exemptions. GOP Senator Kelli Stargel, the sponsor of HB 5’s sister bill SB146,  opened the floor to her colleagues to “convince” her they should remain. That’s when Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book made an emotional confession:

“When I was a young teen, my abuser, who was a woman, took me to a friend’s house. There I was drugged, raped by multiple men. I haven’t talked about that to anyone.”

Yet, her admission failed to move Stargel or the Republican-controlled house. And no one should be surprised. Bad faith actions and cruelty are what the GOP does best. Sen. Stargel made this callous remark about mothers losing their rights to manage their reproductive health after the bill’s passage:

“I never thought I’d be standing here today, but be able to save the life of babies.”

It should be noted that Florida is 3rd in the US in the number of rapes, behind California and Texas. Florida is also 3rd in the number of residents receiving SNAP benefits, again just behind California and Texas. Because the Sunshine State refuses to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, low-income and rural Floridians are put at a disadvantage accessing medical care.

“It will block access to crucial reproductive health care for Floridians, with a particular impact on low-income communities, communities of color, and rural communities,” wrote Vice President Kamala Harris in a statement from the White House. Florida Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) sharply criticized the GOP’s passage of HB5:

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“This bill is terrible for all Floridians, particularly for those who are low-income, live in rural areas, or are people of color who have historically faced inequitable access to quality health care. Or low income people who cannot afford to travel out of state for a safe abortion.”

“It is not the government’s place to interfere with one of the toughest decisions a person will ever make,” Driskell continued. “That private decision is one of faith, healthcare, personal freedom, and protecting the emotional and physical future of women and their families.”

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For those who support a woman’s right to choose, all may not be lost. In response to the abortion bills, the ACLU pointed out that Florida’s constitution has a privacy clause that says, “Explicitly protects against government intrusion in residents’ private lives.”

Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bills into law, with an effective date of July 1, 2022.

The Governor has been very vocal about parents having the right to make decisions best for themselves and their families.

I guess that only applies to those in lockstep with his views.

Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted in any color that he wants, so long as it’s black.” It seems like that applies to Florida’s voters, even though DeSantis only won his office by a measly 33,000 votes out of 9 million ballots cast in 2018. At a 0.4% margin of victory, it was the closest gubernatorial race of the 2018 cycle.

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While the Florida bills aren’t yet as restrictive as Texas law, they do have one thing in common; Florida’s SB146 and Texas’ SB8 were both sponsored by Republican women. Women are suppressing and oppressing women.

Individual women have the capacity to decide they know what’s best for their families.

Republicans want to deny them the choice.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

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Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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