Whitney Fox provides update on ‘absurd’ Florida abortion ban, touts reproductive freedom amendment
Image via Whitney Fox for Congress.

Whitney Fox
'Attacks on our freedoms are bigger than political parties, and if we don’t stop these attacks now, there’s no telling what they’ll try to take away next.'

Whitney Fox, a Democrat running for Florida’s 13th Congressional District in hopes of unseating incumbent Republican Anna Paulina Luna, is fired up about reproductive freedom, and she’s warning voters that if it can be taken away, what’s next?

Sitting in her car, Fox delivered a monologue on the status of voter efforts to place a constitutional amendment on Florida’s ballot seeking to protect reproductive freedom.

At issue is proposed Amendment 4, the Floridians Protecting Freedom amendment that, if approved, will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot asking voters to codify abortion rights into the state constitution. It would bar restrictions on abortion up to the point of fetal viability, generally considered to be at about the 24th week of gestation.

The word “viability” drew ire from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who asked the Florida Supreme Court to review the ballot language and block it from appearing before voters in November. She argues different people have different definitions of what viability means during pregnancy, and therefore the language is confusing to voters. She called the amendment an attempt to “hoodwink” voters.

But supporters, like Fox, argue the amendment is necessary to stem attacks on reproductive freedom. Florida lawmakers have passed two anti-abortion laws — one banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy and the other at six weeks. The 15-week ban is currently being challenged and, if the court upholds the law, the six-week ban would automatically go into effect.

“This initiative is the will of the people,” Fox said, noting that amendment backers collected nearly 1 million verified signatures, more than enough to place the question on the 2024 ballot.

Fox said the support comes from both men and women, and that signatories on the ballot initiative span political parties.

“Why? Because attacks on our freedoms are bigger than political parties,” she said. “And if we don’t stop these attacks now, there’s no telling what they’ll try to take away next.”

Fox called the 15-week and six-week bans “absurd.”

“And what’s even more terrifying is extremists like Anna Paulina Luna want to strip away our freedoms nationwide with a national abortion ban that would outlaw abortion even in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother,” Fox continued.

“This isn’t about politics. This is about my daughters, your daughters, our families and our future. Stripping away freedoms and endangering women’s lives for political gain shows just how broken our system is.”

Fox said that’s why she’s running for Congress, adding that she “will always stand up for you, your rights and your freedoms.”

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing arguments in the ballot language case. The conservative court has until April 1 to make a decision.

In the meantime, supporters are moving forward with their campaign. The pro-Amendment 4 website features stories from various women who suffered devastating pregnancy losses resulting from preterm labor or fetal abnormalities that made the pregnancies not viable. In the three examples, all of the women wanted the pregnancies, and all were forced to make difficult decisions because of Florida’s restrictions.

One story centers on two friends, Anya Cook and Shanae Smith-Cunningham, who both had their waters break before fetal viability, meaning there was no chance their babies would survive. But doctors told both they were unable to induce labor to end the pregnancies. In the case of Cook, she delivered her dead fetus alone in a bathroom at work, and nearly died from blood loss.

Another woman, Deborah Dorbert, learned that her pregnancy was not viable due to the fetal diagnosis of Potter’s syndrome, a terminal fetal illness that causes a lack of amniotic fluid and kidney failure. Doctors and their lawyers, fearful of running afoul of Florida law, declined to terminate Dorbert’s pregnancy, leaving her and her family to wait an agonizing more than three months to deliver a baby that would not live.

Similarly, Anabely Lopes learned at 15 weeks into her wanted pregnancy that her baby had Trisomy 18, a condition that results in the death of the fetus in utero or within five to 15 days after birth. Due to Florida’s law, Lopes had to travel to Washington to obtain the care she needed.

Luna’s campaign platform doesn’t mention abortion, but her bio talks about her mother’s decision to have her, despite her father’s insistence that her mother receive an abortion.

Luna’s platform does include reference to “medical freedom,” but that is in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, which she notes “people should decide for themselves” how to protect themselves from the virus and that “everyone should talk to their doctor and decide what is best for themselves and their families.”

In late December, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a press release announcing “bad news” for Luna, noting that more than 150,000 Republicans signed the abortion rights amendment petition.

Fox is not the only Democrat hoping to unseat Luna from the now-red district (reapportionment shifted district boundaries north, giving the GOP a voter registration advantage after Democrats had enjoyed a slight advantage during the Charlie Crist years). Five others have also entered the race — Sabrina Bousbar, Tony D’Arrigo, John Liccione, Peter Owen and Mark Weinkrantz.

Bousbar and D’Arrigo have not yet filed financial reports, having entered the race after fourth quarter financials were due. But of the others, Fox has by far led the money race, with more than $200,000 raised. Weinkrantz follows with nearly $44,000, much of that his own money. Liccione has raised just over $24,000 while Owen has banked just $110, meaning he is likely not a viable candidate.

Luna will be difficult to topple. In addition to the voter registration advantage her party enjoys in the district, Luna also has a significant money advantage, with more than $1.1 million raised and, of that, nearly $550,000 remaining on hand.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


13 comments

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 7, 2024 at 2:54 pm

    I mean she’s not wrong.

    These dirty G0Ps got a taste of taking away rights, and they found it tastes mighty Fine.

    They’ll want more. Sooner or later, it’ll be a right which conservative types didn’t want to lose, but adios.

    • Hung Wiil

      February 7, 2024 at 4:44 pm

      She’s wrong. So are you.
      The Florida Supreme Court will not allow this confusing language on the ballot. You read it here first.

      • Dont Say FLA

        February 8, 2024 at 9:50 am

        All words are confusing to approximately half of Florida’s voters given their, on average, 6th grade reading level.

        If Assley really doesn’t like the language, why doesn’t her little lawsuit suggest better language? Why not recommend posters for every precinct with an official definition of viability?

        Hint: It’s not the ballot language Assley takes issue with. It’s voters voting that Assley doesn’t like the sound of. G0P types hate when people freely vote without districts or gerrymanders or other disenfranchisement vehicles being in place to suppress whatever the G0P doesn’t like.

  • PeterH

    February 7, 2024 at 8:57 pm

    Let’s hope women’s health care privacy decisions, marijuana legalization and the failure of Republicans in the House and Senate in Washington to approve their own bipartisan strict border legislation will wake up Floridians to vote these obstructionist Republicans out of office.

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!
    Vote all Republicans out of office.

  • Boris

    February 8, 2024 at 5:15 am

    Learn about John Liccione before voting.

    https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/unreported-opinions/1098s18.pdf

    On May 26, Liccione was arrested on domestic violence charges. His arrest warrant
    and court papers provided the New York Address as his domicile. He was incarcerated and held without bail. In an August 28 competency proceeding, after hearing “details that referenced delusions and paranoia,” the court handling Liccione’s criminal case declared him mentally incompetent and a danger to himself and others. Liccione was committed to the Springfield Psychiatric Hospital.

  • M Galea

    February 12, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    Here are the prominent words in the amendment all of us should be aware or:
    Limit – presupposes that some abortion laws will remain on the books; in reality, all but one will be removed.
    Prohibit, penalize, delay or restrict – Every one of the 42 laws concerning abortion does one or more of these actions, thus EVERY law mentioning abortion will be wiped away except for parental notification.
    Health Care Provider – There are approximately 47 statutes that contain a definition of this term. Since the amendment doesn’t stipulate which statute they are referring to, EVERY specified licensure or certification that is defined as “Health Care Provider” will be eligible to perform an abortion. These include pharmacists, podiatrists, athletic trainers, physical therapists and masseuses.
    If the amendment passes gone will be: clinic cleanliness standards; requirements that a clinic must have a staff member with admitting privileges at a hospital; informed consent regulations; requirements that abortions must be performed by and MD or a DO; 24 hour waiting periods; ability of the state to fine a physician or a clinic for misfeasance (because every single law keeping women who get an abortion safe will be wiped out!).
    This amendment goes too far!

    • JD

      February 12, 2024 at 2:46 pm

      Stop the scare tactics and pearl clutching.

      You know this admendment is favored by the people and has a good chance of passing so you all are grasping at straws and trying to pollute the intent with BS.

      Why not stay out of people’s business?

      • M Galea

        February 12, 2024 at 9:52 pm

        Stay out of other people’s business? Why, don’t I have a right to express an opinion? Shouldn’t people be given information so they can make an informed choice? Or are you the only one who should have a voice?

        • JD

          February 13, 2024 at 8:24 am

          In case you didn’t get the last comment:

          My voice is far more informed than your pearl clutching, based on a catastrophizing opinion about a worst-case scenario of back-alley masseuse abortionists.

          Stay out of people’s bedrooms. The 15 week and 6-week bans would lead to your proposed scenario of dirty operating rooms than codifying it. Do you know why? Because it already happened in the 1950 and 1960s.

          “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

  • JD

    February 13, 2024 at 8:21 am

    My voice is far more informed than your pearl clutching, based on a catastrophizing opinion about a worst-case scenario of back-alley masseuse abortionists.

    Stay out of people’s bedrooms. The 15 week and 6-week bans would lead to your proposed scenario of dirty operating rooms than codifying it. Do you know why? Because it already happened in the 1950 and 1960s.

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

  • M Galea

    February 13, 2024 at 8:39 am

    You seem really incensed, JD. How else to explain the posting and reposting of your comment twice in three minutes?

    I said nothing about people’s bedrooms. I pointed out the meaning of six terms in the proposed amendment. I didn’t catastrophize, you did. You took the facts I laid out and promptly went to the worst case scenario. Facts can be difficult things. But facts, not emotions, are what will be litigated if this amendment passes. You may think that having no restrictions on anything pertaining to abortions would be most advantageous; I assure you that cries of regret from women who will be maimed for life because of lack of the laws you want gone, or the cries of regret from husbands or parents who lost wives or daughters in unsafe situations because of unqualified abortionists will far exceed the joy you hope to have if this amendment passes.

    • JD

      February 13, 2024 at 9:35 am

      Mmmm ‘kay.

      You pushed your narrative propped up with the worst case scenario and you are doing it again with this: who will be maimed for life”, “lost wives or daughters in unsafe situations because of unqualified abortionists”.

      And then you accuse me of find “joy you hope to have”?

      Get out of here.

      Is M Galea Floridianese for Chicken Little?

      “The sky is falling! the sky is falling!”

  • M Galea

    February 13, 2024 at 12:06 pm

    Emotion, not logic; name-calling, not persuasion. JD, no point in continuing this because you aren’t interested in a reasonable discussion.

Comments are closed.


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