Speaker of the Florida House: “I’d like to see us move in a pro-life direction”

ORLANDO, Fla. — In his first one-on-one on-camera interview since becoming speaker of the Florida House, Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner signaled he’d support additional restrictions on abortion but cautioned that what that could look like will depend on what Republican members want and what the courts allow.

“I want to see us move in a pro-life direction, but I’m also sensitive to the fact that 50 years of Roe versus Wade has developed a culture and an expectation around this issue that is not going to change overnight, and I say that as some who believes that life begins at conception,” said Renner.

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Florida Republicans, who in 2022 pushed through a new 15-week abortion restriction (HB5) — with no exceptions for rape or incest — will enter the 2023 session with supermajorities in both the House and the Senate. Republicans will also be heading back to Tallahassee to work with Gov. Ron DeSantis, fresh off the largest win for a Florida governor in modern history. DeSantis has indicated he’d like to see additional restrictions.

“We have 85 members, we have supermajorities in the House and Senate, and I can tell you they are pro-life majorities, I’m pro-life, I’d like to see us move in a pro-life direction,” said Renner. “I think we need to look at how we can balance some of those interests, and so we will take a look at where everybody is in the caucus.”

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While the speaker indicated his support for further anti-abortion measures, he noted that the courts may still weigh in on the matter.

In 1980, Florida voters added a right to privacy to the Florida Constitution. In 1989, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy included abortion. The current court, which has been remade since the 1989 decision, could reverse course, thus clearing the way for lawmakers to reduce the number of weeks or pass an outright ban on abortion.

The 2023 regular session of the Florida Legislature is set to begin in the spring.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.