A contentious six-week abortion ban in Florida made it through its first committee hearing early on Thursday, in a party-line vote of 13-5, which came after about more than 150 testimonies from people who traveled to the Capitol. The meeting ended with heartache.
Abortion rights advocates, medical personnel and other citizens stepped in and out of the committee room in a revolving door of emotion, consoling one another.
The committee room was composed of advocates from both sides, though largely with women who shared their most personal testaments — some for the first time. One woman directly addressed the lawmakers, the men then the women, as some idly sat with heads hung down and attention spans short.
Three amendments were proposed by House Democrats, including one to remove the requirement of a second physician sign-off — all of them failed. In closing arguments, the Democrats conceded to not being able to change their Republican colleagues’ minds but pleaded that they consider amendments moving forward.
Currently, Florida has a 15-week abortion ban signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, but the 2023 Legislature is pursuing the six-week measure.
To pass a six-week abortion ban, lawmakers would have to undergo the full legislative process. This process requires approval from the full House and Senate – before Gov. Ron DeSantis gets the final say.
The Senate version of the bill, SB 300, will first be heard by the Health Policy committee on Monday.
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