How Florida Democrats are fighting to protect reproductive rights across the state

David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

By Giselle Balido

December 18, 2023

Democrats have been filing proposals for the 2024 legislative session in an effort to protect women’s reproductive freedom, as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pending six-week abortion ban looms large.

Early in September, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union challenging a 15-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. The court’s decision is expected to be announced before the end of the year.

If the court approves the 15-week ban, a six-week ban would take effect 30 days later, prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions. 

So, as the future of reproductive freedom in Florida hinges on a ruling from the state’s highest court, Democratic lawmakers have been busy filing proposals for the 2024 legislative session in an all-out effort to protect reproductive rights across the state.

‘We are fighting’ for women’s rights

In mid-September, Democratic Senate minority leader Lauren Book introduced Senate Bill 34, while Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani introduced House Bill 111 in October.

The bills aim to ensure that penalties related to an illegal abortion would not apply to the person getting the procedure. Currently under Florida law, anyone who performs or participates in the termination of a pregnancy after 15 weeks can be charged with a third-degree felony.

“The imprisonment of women, girls, sexual assault survivors, and their doctors through dangerous abortion bans is cruel and anti-freedom,” said Book, who calls SB 34 a “glitch bill” that makes sure women and girls are protected. 

Gov. DeSantis claims the language in his abortion ban is directed at providers. But Book is not willing to take a chance.

“The governor has said ‘that will not happen in Florida’ – but we’re not just going to take his word for it, we are fighting to ensure it,” the senator added.

Similarly, SB 256, also filed by Book, would place stricter regulations for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that are typically operated by anti-abortion groups and are not licensed by the state. 

RELATED: Biden campaign blames Trump for growing anti-abortion extremism

Book’s bill would require the CPCs to provide clients medically accurate information about pregnancy as well as information about local sexual assault treatment options.
“Women deserve access to legitimate and trusted reproductive health care services, and the freedom to safely receive care without fear of misinformation, harassment, or harm,” Book wrote in a post on X.

Additionally, SB 256 calls for the centers to be audited annually, as millions of public dollars fund CPCs each year. As Book has pointed out, the measure signed by DeSantis in April banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy included a $25 million increase in recurring annual funding for CPCs, up from $4.45 million. 

Eskamani’s HB 111 would protect women who end their own pregnancies at home through methods including the use of abortion pills, legislation that is also supported by Book.

Lawmakers will consider those proposals during the next legislative session starting on Jan. 9, 2024. 

RELATED: Supreme Court to decide whether to ban abortion pill nationwide

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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