Women lawmakers highlight equality’s slip backward for Florida women
by Lily Fineout

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The 103rd anniversary coming Saturday had four women lawmakers taking stock.

On the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, things looked much more optimistic.

Now, on the 103rd anniversary — commemorated with Women’s Equality Day coming Saturday — the fight for full female equality is slipping backward in the Sunshine State, a group of women lawmakers agreed.

With a right that women had for nearly 50 years disappearing in Florida, Rep. Anna Eskamani led fellow Orlando area Reps. In a discussion Monday, LaVon Bracy Davis, Rita Harris and Johanna López highlighted the need for the like-minded to recommit to helping women achieve full economic and societal equality.

Currently, Florida women who are more than 15 weeks pregnant cannot get an abortion and the state is one state Supreme Court ruling away from banning the procedure before most women know they are pregnant. The Republican-dominated Legislature approved a six-week ban on the procedure this past regular Session.

These bans are already affecting women’s health, Eskamani said.

“Today, a woman in the United States is twice as likely to die of pregnancy complications than her mother a generation ago due in part to abortion bans, and of course, we all know that when such a tragedy takes place, no one cares about party affiliation,” Eskamani said.

The conservative-leaning state Supreme Court is due to rule on whether the state constitution includes the right to privacy that would render the 15-week and six-week bans unconstitutional.

If the state Supreme Court ruling allows the bans to stand with a finding that women do not have a right to privacy via the state constitution, another avenue to preserve the right is taking shape. 

The lawmakers highlighted a ballot initiative, now collecting signatures, which would explicitly make the right to abortion as expansive as it was after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.

Last week, the effort announced that months before the deadline, 600,000 signatures had been collected in an effort that will require nearly 900,000 signatures.

“I fully believe that we should live in a country that honors our bodily autonomy and our agency to make decisions for our bodies ourselves,” Harris said.

Eskamani included a shoutout to a study program that the state-run New College of Florida in Sarasota has begun removing from its offerings. The only full-time gender studies professor quit there last week after New College’s gender studies program was abolished by the college’s board of trustees, all appointees of Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The board has made national headlines for a fast-moving effort to reshape the state-run liberal arts college.

But students will be missing out, Eskamani said.

“My undergrad (degree) was in political science and women’s studies, and these are really important programs to understanding our history, to understanding the intersections of gender with society and politics and the criminal justice system,” Eskamani said, identifying herself as a proud University of Central Florida graduate. “And yet, you know, these programs are being eliminated for political reasons.”

The lawmakers also see an attack on women’s pay in a union-busting law that targets professions women are more likely to fill. Law enforcement and first-responder unions were carved out of a new law (SB 256) that keeps public-sector unions from auto-enrolling members.

“We need to respond in the best way we can to push back so that people who work in these professions have the ability to organize so that they have more power and more say when it comes to the money that they’re going to be making,” Harris said.

The law, which has already resulted in a decline in union membership, is currently being challenged in court.

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].


  • Sonja Fitch

    August 22, 2023 at 4:28 am

    Women are the hope of a common good! Cult of goptrump are backassward of the common good!

  • G. Enda

    August 22, 2023 at 6:09 am

    Should you ever decide to post a gender-specific story about men, I wonder whether you will highlight it with a big picture of a penis? But, that is an illogical question because you will never post a gender-specific story about men. Apparently, in the world of modern bloggery, there are no worries about multiple genders because there is only one recognized gender.

  • Earl Pitts "Truth Teller" American

    August 22, 2023 at 6:53 am

    “Dook 4 Brains Leftist Female Lawmakers Discuss Issues Of Interest To About 5% Of The Dook 4 Brains Population”
    There you go America, just read my supream words of wisdom and truth above and save yourself the pain of getting whizzed off over reading all the trivial issues which 95% of all people on the planet do not give a r@tt’s @55 about.
    Carry on American Patriots and have an “Earl Pitts American” day.
    *Queue annoyningly Loud Patriotic USA music*,

  • Joe The Plumber

    August 22, 2023 at 7:12 am

    Thanks Earl,
    You just saved me from a bad start to my work day. Had I actually read the 5%’s “rant” I most likely would have been late for work, had a “Joe The Plumber” bad mood day, and spent too much time trying to unbunch my tighty whities from my special place.
    Now I’m heading out for work, whistiling a “happy tune”, and will give my customers the best service they ever had from a plumbing professional.
    Thanks again Earl Joe
    ps love the patriotic Usa music

  • Conservative always

    August 22, 2023 at 11:19 am

    What is a woman?

    • Ian

      August 22, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      Good question. I wonder if any person quoted in this article could define that term for us, particularly the one who majored in “women’s studies.”

Comments are closed.


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