Miami Beach Republican Rep. Fabián Basabe, who skipped a vote Thursday passing a divisive measure that would cut the threshold for abortion in Florida from 15 to six weeks, wants to clarify he was for giving women twice that amount of time.
The reason the House didn’t pass a 12-week ban instead, he said, is because Democrats — who hold just 30% of the seats in either chamber — were unwilling to work with GOP lawmakers.
“I would like to make clear I am personally pro-choice up to 12 weeks with exceptions and am very concerned for the lack of respect for life — that is, of all the other lives involved in the decision to end a life,” he said in a statement shared with Florida Politics.
“The issue today is that the majority of this House, vocally pro-life, had come to the direction of the minority of this House, vocally pro-choice, to create a compromise to avoid a total abortion ban, which went against their beliefs. But after coming to each Democratic member directly, none of you were allowed to propose anything but the extreme.
“Some House Democrats were personally amenable to this opportunity, but it simply does not work with their leadership nor political agendas as a caucus. You basically want it all or nothing, and people be damned.”
He continued, “Today, I see, and everyone else does as well, that by ‘equality’ you mean all the chips on your minority side and none on the majority one. You know, this thinking might just be the reason we are, in fact, the majority. Because (no) one likes bullies.
“In arriving at this result, believe it or not, the Republican Party was the only party that has actually fought for choice. They understood that taxpayer dollars are involved and that the world we live in is bigger than their personal beliefs.
“I came to you and offered the common ground of 12 weeks with exceptions if the House was together as one and you said NO. So, thank you, Democrats, for forcing six weeks down our throats and that of an entire state! It could have been 12!
“You did not budget, not one day, not one minute … And for that, I shame you. Shame on you for not holding every life dear and valuable even after the majority turned a blind eye (to) your disregard of the fact that it takes two people to create a life, and you advocate for the right of only one to destroy it.”
After more than seven hours of deliberation, the Florida House voted 70-40 for the measure (SB 300), during which the chamber’s GOP supermajority uniformly rejected numerous amendments from its Democratic colleagues.
Just nine Republican lawmakers voted no in either chamber — Sens. Alexis Calatayud and Corey Simon, and Reps. Mike Caruso, Karen Gonzalez Pittman, Peggy Gossett-Seidman, Sam Killebrew, Chip LaMarca, Vicki Lopez and Rick Roth.
Ten lawmakers, including Basabe, did not vote on the bill, which upon receiving Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature will reduce the allowable period for an abortion for the second time in less than a year and a half.
Before the March 2022 passage of HB 5, which set the current 15-week deadline with no exceptions for rape or incest, Florida granted those thinking of terminating their pregnancies up to 24 weeks.
SB 300 provides for a quarter of that time, which experts have said isn’t long enough for many women to know they’re pregnant unless they’re actively trying to conceive. The bill also allows abortion up to 15 weeks in cases of rape and incest, but not statutory rape, and up to 24 weeks if the mother’s life is at risk or there is a fetal abnormality.
Basabe said he’d spoken with representatives from Planned Parenthood who told him 12 weeks was “acceptable” when paired with the exceptions included in SB 300.
Planned Parenthood, the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S. and among its most vocal defenders, said no such conversation ever happened in which the nonprofit said 12 weeks was acceptable and that the group has never supported abortion restrictions in Florida.
A spokesperson for House Democrats similarly denied members of the party expressed amenability to a 12-week threshold.
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood has “consistently told legislators that any abortion ban is unacceptable, including when we met with Rep. Basabe.”
“This abortion ban, like the ban currently in place, violates Floridians’ freedom to decide what is best for their own bodies and lives,” she said. “Planned Parenthood supported the multiple amendments introduced yesterday aimed at harm reduction, which Rep. Basabe voted against: amendments to fix the exceptions in the bill, an amendment to fund rape crisis centers, an amendment to remove the mandatory two appointment requirement, and others.
“It’s clear that Rep. Basabe doesn’t know where to stand on the issue of government interference and reproductive health care. But we do. Planned Parenthood is not and has never wavered in our opposition to attacks on reproductive health care and our patients.”
Basabe indicated that if he were to have cast a vote, it would have been against the bill, but added that he will “not negotiate life.”
“I will not vote against the only members that came to the table of compromise and I will not give my vote to a party that has no intentions of compromise,” he said. “I vow to continue my efforts to bring us together. Amazingly, I still believe it’s possible.”
Editor’s note: This report has been updated to include a comment from the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates and Florida House Democrats.