The Florida Legislature’s proposed prohibition on reproductive freedom after 15 weeks continues the cultural war by Florida’s GOP, which has involved chipping away at a women’s right to choose (and a doctor’s right to advise their patients) since the Republicans gained full control of the legislature in 1996.
As HB5/SB 146 moves its way through the legislative process, elected Democrats have no option but to vocally oppose the legislation and case “nay” votes at every step.
Since 1997, Florida Republicans have passed one onerous piece of legislation after another, getting little in the way of push back, with the exception of a 2010 veto by then-Governor Crist days after he had left the Republican Party.
Along the way, the GOP has had plenty of help from random back-bencher Democrats who have wanted to appear more “moderate” or win favors from GOP lawmakers. If that happens in 2022, no quarter should be given to the dissident legislators. They will have to be met head-on within the party’s nominating process and stopped from representing Democrats in the 2022 election.
This isn’t an issue as to whether or not a member of the Democratic House or Senate is personally opposed to abortion rights. This legislation even more than prior attempts to restrict reproductive freedom in this state, effectively takes the decision making out of the hands of women and doctors and in the hands of politicians, most of whom are ideological zealots.
I have heard more than one Democrat the last month tell me that this legislation is not “as bad” as what they have passed in Texas or Mississippi. That’s absolutely the wrong attitude. I’ve also heard 15 weeks is a long period of time to “make a decision,” on this matter and anything longer than that is just a “convenience”. That as well, IMO is absolutely not the case.
Beyond the talking points from Republican politicians and uninformed observers, women do not ever take the decision to abort a pregnancy, in a frivolous manner. Usually mitigating circumstances, more often than not, having to do with basic economics or personal health guide these decisions.
The caricature that continues to be painted publicly by conservatives is that somehow reproductive freedom entails a procedure of “convenience” being on the table for women. Nothing could further from the truth and that patronizing point-of-view is part of why, even those personally opposed to abortion MUST vote against this legislation. It’s an essential part of women’s health, that all safe options to protect reproductive health be legal in Florida.
The bottom line is this – anyone who is a member of either legislative Democratic Caucus that votes for HB 5/SB 146 or any further restriction on reproductive rights should get a primary challenge (particularly those in safe seats, which is well almost every Democrat in the legislature now). 2022 is a particularly appetizing year for primary challenges as it’s a redistricting year and given the low turnouts that have accompanied previous primaries, rest assured any legislator that votes to restrict a women’s right to choose, can and likely will be beat in a primary.