Monday, the Florida Senate voted to approve a bill restricting abortions after six weeks. Before it reaches GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, the House must approve the measure. DeSantis supports the legislation, and Republicans hold a supermajority in the legislature.
The vote drew protests across from the state capitol Monday evening that led to arrests of Florida’s Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, and chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Nikki Fried.
Social media images captured demonstrators and the women being handcuffed by Tallahassee Police Department officers.
In a statement, police said the city had been working with protest organizers for over a week and that the group was informed last Friday that the city could not accommodate its request to camp overnight.
“After multiple warnings throughout the day, protestors acknowledged they understood that anyone refusing to leave the premises at sundown would be subject to arrest,” explained the department. “This evening, after sunset, the majority of the crowd left the property while 11 people refused to leave despite numerous requests. They were subsequently arrested for trespass after warning.”
The department said that while it supports non-disruptive demonstrating and encourages individuals to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble peacefully, they must do that in accordance with the law.
Abortion rights groups and Florida Democrats say Senate Bill 300 disproportionally affects people of color and low-income women. “No woman should be ashamed to have an abortion,” said state Senator Tracie Davis.
The law would impact abortion access across the South. Georgia, which borders Florida, restricts abortion after cardiac activity can be detected, with another neighboring state, Alabama, prohibiting the procedure during all stages of pregnancy.
Florida proposal allows for exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother
The Florida proposal allows for exceptions in the case of a pregnancy caused by incest or rape or to save the mother’s life until 15 weeks of pregnancy. However, a woman must provide documentation, such as a police report, medical record, or restraining order.
Additionally, it ensures that the drugs used in medication-induced abortions can only be provided in person by a physician. Gov. DeSantis has referred to the incest and rape provisions as sensible.
SB 300 will only take effect if the state’s current 15-week law is upheld in a still-continuing legal challenge before the state Supreme Court.
“Bodily autonomy should not give a person the permission to kill an innocent human being,” said GOP state Senator Erin Grall, sponsor of the bill. “We live in a time where the consequences of our actions are an afterthought and convenience has been substituted for responsibility, and this is unacceptable when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable.”
Two Republicans opposed the bill, state Senators Cory Simon and Alexis Calatayud.