Legislation would require 50% women representation to pass abortion restrictions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Should a legislature mostly made up of men be allowed to restrict access to abortion? A Democratic lawmaker Florida doesn’t think so and has filed legislation for the upcoming session that would put the question before voters.

Seven states passed laws banning nearly all abortion procedures in 2019 alone.

Kimberly Scott with Planned Parenthood said it’s oftentimes men who make the decision to restrict abortion access.

"We see, overwhelmingly, men file legislation that would impact women's health,” Scott said.

The bill filed by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Florida, proposes a controversial safeguard to prevent new abortion restrictions in Florida. It would put a constitutional amendment before voters that would prohibit either chamber of the Legislature from passing new restrictions on abortion access unless women make up at least half of the members.

“Making sure that there is true representation for those that are voting on this legislation that will be the most impacted is so critical,” Scott said.

Women make up only 30% of the Florida Legislature. To get to 50%, eight female senators and 24 female representatives would have to be elected.

Ingrid Delgado with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said while abortion disproportionately affects women, it doesn’t only affect women.

“Abortion affects society including the fathers, the grandparents and the siblings of aborted children,” Delgado said.

Delgado said the proposed amendment would impose a standard on abortion legislation that doesn’t exist for any other issue.

“We don’t require similar legislation for the majority of gun owners or veterans or the elderly or children or racial minorities before passing legislation that affects those communities,” said Delgado.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Republican-held Legislature, which in recent years has seen momentum grow in favor of harsher abortion restrictions.

But Scott said while the Legislature may be in favor of tougher abortion restrictions, Florida voters have rejected them. In 2012 a proposed constitutional amendment that would have prohibited tax dollars from being spent on abortions failed when put before voters.