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Twin victories in Florida provide further protection for unborn babies

by | Apr 15, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

(left to right) Speaker Chris Sprawls; Lynda Bell, President, Florida Right to Life; Rep. Erin Grall, House sponsor; Lori Bontell, Faith and Community Coalition

What a week for pro-life Floridians and unborn babies!

First, on April 8, Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey upheld a 24-hour waiting period, a law passed way back in 2015. She wrote

“The plain purpose of the Act is to enhance a pregnant woman’s voluntary and informed consent by providing for a 24-hour window of opportunity for her to consideration the important information which Florida requires she be given. In passing the Act, Florida joined the majority of State which have similar requirements, include those that have recognized a right of privacy in their state constitutions. These laws have been upheld in numerous judicial decisions both state and federal.

“In addition, as noted, the majority of other States have waiting period laws in place. Of those waiting periods, 17 are for 24 hours, on is for 18 hours, 4 are for 48 hours, and 6 are for 72 hours. Thus, with one exception, all waiting periods are for 24 hours or longer.”

Yesterday, as NRL News Today reported, DeSantis signed the “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act” (House Bill 5) into law. Gov. DeSantis said “It’s a statement of our values that every life is important.” DeSantis said being able to sign the bill prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks was “really meaningful.”

“We are here today to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” DeSantis said Thursday on a stage in Kissimmee, surrounded by lawmakers, pro-life advocates and children. “This will represent the most significant protections for life that we have seen in a generation.”

House Bill 5 “protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.”

National Right to Life also lauded the governor’s action. “We praise Governor Ron DeSantis, the pro-life members of the Florida state legislature, and Florida Right to Life for all of the hard work that went into seeing this legislation become law,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No unborn child should suffer and die from an abortion. Florida’s law will protect unborn children and their mothers from the horrors of abortion.”

Florida’s Catholic bishops praised Gov. DeSantis for his “commitment to defend unborn children and their mothers” and for his leadership in encouraging the Legislature to take up the bill and pass it and for his own support of the measure.

HB 5 “includes provisions to improve infant health and to analyze and reduce fetal and infant mortality,” the Bishops said in a statement.

The prelates also commended the state’s legislative leaders, especially Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Erin Grall who sponsored the bill.

“(They) courageously accomplished the difficult task of advancing the bill through the committee process and floor debate in the Florida House and Senate,” the bishops said.

The bill is modeled after, but is not identical to Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act.” On December 1st, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that case. A decision is expected in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June.

“Previously, Florida had allowed abortion through the second trimester of a pregnancy, making it one of the most permissive states for abortion in the southeast,” according to CNN’s Steve Contorno. “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida reported 71,914 abortions in 2019, or 18.5 per 1,000 women, the third highest rate in the country.

HB 5 passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 78-39 and the Senate by a 23-15.The bill goes into effect July 1. Similar bills have been passed in Kentucky and Arizona.

“Working within that infrastructure of 15 weeks gives Florida its best opportunity to save a significant number of babies, very quickly, after the court’s decision,” Rep. Erin Grall said last month. “The Supreme Court’s weighing of the Mississippi law was a factor in the decision to propose the 15-week restriction.”

“I never dreamed I’d be standing here today, but actually being able to save the life of babies,” GOP Sen. Kelli Stargel told legislators. “God is so good.”

“We at Florida Right to Life are absolutely thrilled with the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Erin Grall. They did great work and our wonderful pro-life Governor DeSanctis just signed the 15 week bill,” said Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life. “Florida Right to Life was proud to play a pivotal role in its passage.”

Categories: State Legislation
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