Jason Pizzo: Put the abortion question to the people
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/30/21-Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, speaks during the Senate Criminal Justice Committee meeting, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The Democratic Miami Senator anticipates that the Governor will soon be asking the GOP-dominated Legislature for a total abortion ban.

With the federal right to an abortion gone and left to state legislatures to decide, Miami Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo’s call for the question to be thrown to voters is blowing up.

“If women’s reproductive rights are now left up to the states, then it should be left up to the PEOPLE of those states, not the legislature,” he tweeted this week. “Let’s put it on the ballot.

As of Sunday morning, the tweet had more than 41,100 likes and 7,488 retweets.

Pizzo hasn’t yet drafted the measure, but it could get on the ballot for voters to decide through a joint resolution of the Legislature. That requires three-fifths of both legislative houses to agree. And Pizzo said he believes that it will be popular with some of his Republican colleagues, also.

It’s a great solution for Republicans who are concerned about what Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political ambitions might require of them, Pizzo said.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, DeSantis went in front of the cameras to promise the state will “expand pro-life protections,” perhaps implying he would go beyond the ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy passed during last Session. He has not taken any specific action, but Pizzo predicts it’s coming.

DeSantis has swatted away talk about his national ambitions. Pizzo, however, theorizes that an absolute ban on the right to an abortion would play well with the national Republican base that DeSantis already is courting for a possible presidential run.

Pizzo said he sees that national strategy in DeSantis-backed legislation such as the new rules regarding the teaching of history and schoolhouse discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Sending the question of abortion out for popular consideration would get these Republican lawmakers out of having to follow DeSantis’ wishes, especially given abortion bans with no exceptions for rape or incest that are being pushed in other state legislature. Florida’s new law restricting the procedure to the first weeks of pregnancy makes no exception for those circumstances.

“There are some pretty strong anti-abortion zealots in Tallahassee, but if you were one-on-one intimately asking members of either side, ‘Do you really believe a 10-year-old girl who gets raped is supposed to go full term with a pregnancy?’ their honest answer is quite different from the button that they might push if they’re told that their political futures are on the line,” Pizzo said.

Kevin Wagner, a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University, said whether such a question is necessary will depend on whether the current state Supreme Court interprets the explicit right to privacy written in the Florida Constitution. It doesn’t appear in the federal constitution and has been cited in other abortion cases.

The 15-week ban now headed for the court will test that privacy provision again, he said. Wagner said he believes that a constitutional amendment will be proposed no matter what the Legislature does.

“You’re going to see proposed constitutional amendments in either direction, depending on which way the court interprets that right to privacy,” Wagner said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Jerry

    July 10, 2022 at 9:14 am

    If only Democrats cared this much about medical privacy and bodily autonomy during COVID…. maybe they wouldnt be facing such a daunting red wave this November.
    They fight for the rights of women to kill their babies, but demand employers fire their employees for refusing experimental vaccines.

  • Richard Bruce

    July 10, 2022 at 10:45 am

    We live in a Constitutional representative republic, not a democracy. The Founders knew the harm mob rule has on Gov. Voting on a single question fails to address multiple options that our representatives are supposed to negotiate.

  • Dan

    July 10, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Democrats should be careful. Polls show a strong majority of voters are against abortions after the first trimester. An amendment that allows all abortions in Florida up to the minute of birth is extremely unlikely to ever get 60% to pass. But an amendment that restricts after the 1st trimester is likely to pass.

    There are only a half-dozen countries in the entire world that allows abortion up to the minute of birth. Even nearly all of Europe has banned abortion after 15-18 weeks. Recent polling here shows less than 20% favor no restrictions on abortion.

    And yeah, Democrats blew their narrative on medical privacy during COVID. The Democrats made it crystal clear that we have no constitutional right to our own medical decisions anymore.

    • marylou

      July 10, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      Early abortions are easier to obtain in Europe. Abortion providers are much more widely available than in the US, where many women need to take days off work to travel to a different city or state, which for poor women can be a major barrier to first trimester abortion.

      Free (or heavily subsidized) abortion, contraception, and prenatal care are available to women in Europe. Abortion in the US can cost $350-$2000, meaning women sometimes need months to beg and borrow enough money to pay for an abortion. In the US, contraceptives can be difficult to obtain. For example, DeSantis recently vetoed Long Acting Contraceptives for lower income Florida women at high risk for unplanned pregnancy.

      European society is supportive of mothers. European women have access to free universal preschool, parental leave, universal healthcare, and subsidized childcare. US women, on the other hand, may initially be happy with a pregnancy, but, due to a life-change like job loss or relationship breakup, find themselves in a position where they cannot provide all that a child needs. Women in Europe can make a choice early in their pregnancy, knowing that basic services will be available to them and their child.

      All of the things that could reduce the need for abortions are being opposed by the Republicans.

      Many Democrats and npa voters disagreed with forcing anyone to have the covid vaccine.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    July 11, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Irony…everything was calm on abortion until the former Gov. of VA coldly in Mengele-speak explained that a full term aborted baby should be left lying alone, kept comfortable until it died. Then we learned what “pro-choice” really meant. They brought it on themselves.

    • marylou

      July 13, 2022 at 11:55 am

      Well, hopefully, they haven’t brought it on you and your daughters, too, since NON-PREGNANT women throughout the US are, right now, receiving calls from their pharmacies telling them that their prescriptions for medications that they have been taking for years have been cancelled, because of abortion bans.

      Everyone with a uterus is being denied any medication that will damage a zygote, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT PREGNANT. This includes medications that are used in cancer treatment and for chronic disabling conditions. Since many states are also planning contraceptive bans (anyone paying attention can see DeSantis has already started his ban — see his recent contraceptives veto), women will not be allowed to protect their health and lives in any way, showing us what “pro-life” really means.

Comments are closed.


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