Democratic lawmakers file abortion rights legislation

abortion protest indiana ap
The bills are a redux of last year's effort that failed to gain traction.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised to sign hypothetical legislation that rolls back abortion rights even further than the 15-week limit approved last year.

Still, though, Sen. Lori Berman is going ahead with trying to enshrine the right to an abortion into Florida law to the point allowed before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That precedent allowed abortion up through 23 weeks of pregnancy.

Berman and Democrat Rep. Rita Harris of Orange County have filed identical bills to that effect. The measures (SB 1076HB 1033) are similar to bills filed last year that didn’t get a committee hearing. And now, Republicans control supermajorities in both chambers, ensuring the same fate is likely awaiting the legislation in the upcoming Session.

But Berman is undeterred.

“I feel the message is very important,” said the Delray Beach Democrat. “We need to get the message out that these are significant issues that affect people’s lives that the Legislature refuses to even address.”

Opponents of the law (HB 5) passed last year, have filed suit against the 15-week limit on abortion, arguing that the state’s constitution has a more explicit right to privacy than the federal one. The clause, Article 1, Second 23, reads, “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.”

For abortion rights advocates, that clause means that the fetus is subject to a mother’s choice until the point of viability.

“When the privacy clause was put into the constitution, that was in the minds of the lawmakers at that time,” Berman said.

Circuit Court Judge John Cooper upheld as much, but his June ruling was appealed. The law restricting abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy without exceptions for rape or incest has remained in effect, awaiting when the state Supreme Court hears arguments on its constitutionality.

“I’m concerned that when the time arises, they could overrule the actual Florida Constitution,” Berman said.

The law in effect allows for abortion if the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or if the fetus has a fatal birth defect.

Meanwhile, Berman and Harris are proposing bills that say that nothing should discriminate, deny, unduly burden or interfere with any person’s exercise of fundamental rights.

“Our legislation aims to protect women,” Berman said. “It recognizes that abortion is health care, and that women are equal citizens of the State of Florida, and free to make this important decision themselves.”

The legislation, called the Reproductive Health Care Protections Act, would provide a civil cause of action for anyone who is deprived of getting this health care.

“The 15-week abortion ban passed last year is an infringement to an individual’s religious liberties and the right to privacy guaranteed by Florida’s state constitution,” Harris said.

The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates is backing the legislation.

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].


  • Senorita Margarita

    February 27, 2023 at 7:54 pm


  • cassandra

    February 27, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    DeSantis is infringing on the First Amendment Religious Freedoms of women and families whose beliefs differ from his.

    Many people’s religious beliefs REQUIRE abortion under certain circumstances. Abortion bans prevent people from practicing their own religion instead of DeSantis’. Protect EVERYONE’S Religious Freedom.

  • It's Complicated

    February 28, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    Waiting for Berman to file the bill allowing mothers to snuff out their children until their first birthday.

Comments are closed.


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