ORLANDO, Fla. - While other states, such as Alabama, have taken steps this year to limit or ban almost all forms of abortion, Florida lawmakers did not do so in the recently concluded 2019 session.
The Florida House of Representatives passed a parental consent bill that would have expanded abortion restrictions for minors, but that bill died in the Florida Senate.
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Other bills, including one that would have banned abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, did not receive committee hearings.
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“This was an issue that the Florida Senate did not want to touch,” state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) said. “Florida has an enumerated right to privacy in our state constitution, so any type of effort to restrict access to a safe and legal abortion that this Legislature tries will be challenged in court, and it will likely fail.”
Eskamani, a long-time advocate of abortion access, said there may be another reason why state leaders have been hesitant to pass more-restrictive abortion regulations -- economics.
Businesses have already called for boycotts of Alabama and Georgia in the wake of their bans.
“I think there is understanding that the more extreme you are when it comes to issues like abortion access, the less likely you are to attract the Amazons of the world and other corporations that might want to be home in Florida because of our economic landscape but knowing that the quality of life is diminished when you pass bills like this,” Eskamani said.
The lack of action in 2019 sets Florida up for 2020, when social conservatives are expected to bring the bills up again. By 2020, the state should have a better idea how engaged the U.S. Supreme Court will be on the issue.
Two abortion cases are likely to be heard by the court in the next year.
A slate of abortions laws from Indiana dealing with mandatory ultrasounds, disposal of fetal remains and an 18-hour waiting period are expected to be heard by the court.
A Louisiana law limiting the number of abortion clinics is also expected to go before the court.
How the court rules on the cases and whether it takes up Alabama’s near-total abortion ban may determine how aggressive Florida lawmakers intend to be in 2020 when they meet again.
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