TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Senate on Wednesday moved the state closer to a ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
It considered more than a dozen amendments offered by Democrats, but all were defeated. That tees the bill up for final approval on Thursday, sending the bill Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
Adopting a 15-week ban on abortions is a legislative gamble. Sponsor Kelli Stargel is counting on the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a similar Mississippi statute.
“It’s a very different day. We know much more about what is going on with that baby in the womb,” Stargel said. “And I think the court will take that into consideration, especially when they are looking at viability and what this does to a mother.”
But Democrats say the bill is unconstitutional. Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, is a former Planned Parenthood executive.
“We’re going to see senators do their best to highlight how this is unconstitutional to have a record in place for what we assume will be potential litigation,” she said.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried continued to reinforce the message.
“There is a right to privacy and that is where the courts will come into play,” she said.
And one by one, the Senate said no to the Democrats’ proposed amendments, including one that would have added rape and incest as an exception.
Democratic leader Laure Book pushed back against the tide of almost certain approval by GOP lawmakers.
“I think we need to be doing everything we can to give women the right to choose, and we’re not going to stop” said Book.
On Friday, after a lengthy debate, the Senate is expected to send this bill to DeSantis. He has already said he will sign it. And once the bill is signed, lawsuits are likely to be filed.
But the spector of going to court doesn’t surprise Stargel.
“These abortions are preformed in late term electively,” said Stargel. “You’re killing a baby at that point. That baby is formed. It has eyelashes, fingernails.”
The bill doesn’t become effective until July 1, and a ruling in the Mississippi case is expected before then.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Mississippi case lawmakers are counting on is expected in May or June.