Federal and state Democratic leaders Thursday promised a multipronged effort to stop Florida from going the way of Texas when it comes to abortion access.
A controversial law enacted in Texas this month bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That’s usually at about six weeks gestation, before most women know they are pregnant.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz outlined the ways Democrats intend to fight efforts to outlaw abortion like Texas has done. The U.S. Department of Justice will be suing to stop the law, filing suit a soon as Thursday. The U.S. House of Representatives will hold a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act that would codify protections established under the nation’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. That action would supersede restrictive state laws.
Democratic lawmakers said every effort will be made to awaken a generation to what’s at stake if the Texas anti-abortion law also becomes Florida’s.
State Republican lawmakers have already indicated their willingness to see how the milestone anti-abortion forces cleared in Texas can be adapted in Florida.
“This Texas law is a revolting assault on women’s rights and makes an abomination of our cherished democratic principles,” Wasserman Schultz said, calling it a “Frankenstein of a law,” because of the way the U.S. Supreme Court passively allowed it to take effect. “… We must speak up and challenge this brutal attack on America’s women.”
She called for artists, athletes, and companies to boycott Texas in the same way Georgia did when that state passed voting restrictions and lost the chance to host Major League Baseball’s All-star Game.
“Why would Florida Republicans even invite such a conversation into the tourism capital of the world by declaring a public war on women?” Wasserman Schultz asked. “Here’s the answer: Today’s Republican Party is controlled by anti-democratic, anti-woman extremists, and as citizens with daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins who will be harmed by this, we must speak up and challenge this brutal attack on America’s women.”
Floria Senate President Wilton Simpson last week told WFLA lawmakers are “already working on” a so-called “heartbeat bill.” And Gov. Ron DeSantis who calls himself “pro-life” has said he would “take a look” if similar legislation landed on his desk.
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said stories are already piling up about the casualties of the Texas law that went into effect Sept. 1. She was part of the news conference, which also included Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel and state Rep. Dotie Joseph and state Sen. Lori Berman.
“One woman learned she was about five weeks pregnant, but at the same visit, she also learned she had COVID-19,” Goodhue said. “Now with the mandatory quarantine period, this put her over the legal limit to obtain care.”
Joseph said many of her Republican colleagues — who she described as White, male and rich — can’t put themselves in the shoes of women facing the decision of whether to become parents as they deal with the realities of their lives that might include homelessness and joblessness.
“They’re literally unable to understand and empathize and step in the shoes of situations that do not comport with their own reality,” she said.