Florida legislators have been considering a number of restrictions and bans on abortion lately, including HB 865, which the Tampa Bay Times says “would make performing an abortion or operating an abortion clinic a first-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.”
“The Legislature finds that all human life comes from the Creator, has an inherent value that cannot be quantified by man, and begins at the earliest biological development of a fertilized human egg,” the bill says.
It goes on to say that “personal liberty is not a license to kill or otherwise destroy any form of human life,” and that the state has an interest in stopping abortions, unless the safety of the mother is in question.
This is the very question that was settled with Roe v Wade. Even if this bill were to pass, it’s just one lawsuit away from being rendered moot. That’s not to say that the continued attack on reproductive choice, even in its less effective forms like this, should be shrugged off, but it’s the ever-tightening restrictions Florida lawmakers are discussing that have a better chance of being enacted:
Last week, a House panel gave the first nod of approval to tougher licensing requirements (HB 233) for abortion clinics that would hold them to the same or higher standards than surgical centers.
The third proposal (HB 1411) also passed its first House committee Monday afternoon, by a 7-6 vote. The wide-ranging bill blocks state funding for facilities that perform elective abortions, sets new requirements for inspections by the Agency for Health Care Administration, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges and agreements to transfer patients to a hospital located within 30 minutes of the facility where an abortion is performed.
“I believe that the bill protects the health and well-being of mothers in Florida, those who make the choice to have an abortion,” said bill sponsor Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland.
The symbolism of HB 865 is powerful in its own right, though, in a way these measures aren’t. Where the other efforts to make abortion inaccessible can hide behind language about the mother’s safety, HB 865 is a direct challenge to a woman’s right to choose at all — a challenge that seeks to remove the right and legally imperil providers.
Charles Van Zant, the bill’s sponsor, explained that he would protect the zygote/embryo/fetus from the moment of conception because the “mother and the baby are citizens of the state of Florida.” And whenever a discussion involves fertilized egg “citizens,” you know it’s going to be pretty bizarre…Not that bizarre is new for Van Zant; his Politico personality profile lists two fact-checked statements, one false and the other pants on fire false. The claims? That abortion has “reduced our black population by more than 25% since 1973” and that Common Core testing will “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” So while two is a pretty small sample, I think we can safely conclude that Van Zant is no stranger to bizarre, fact-free ideas.
But the rights of Van Zant’s zygote Floridians weren’t the only nutty concerns voiced in anti-abortion testimony at the bill’s House Criminal Justice Subcommittee hearing Monday. One attendee, by the name of Paul, testified about the implications of what would happen to “white culture” if the womenfolk were allowed to make reproductive decisions for themselves.
“We see the destruction we’re bringing upon ourself as a nation,” Paul opined. “The Muslims, they don’t kill the babies.”
Paul noted that “white people” did not “live on an Island,” and that “the Mexicans” would propagate faster because they did not practice abortions.
“Their race is through the breeding of having families, children,” he explained. “And what happens is once you see the condition we’re in, we’re destroying ourselves and destroying our families, we’ve accepted something in this country that the Creator — that we’re going to pay for.”
“You don’t see us as a culture, as a white culture, pushing this agenda of abortion, women outside the home not having babies, everybody getting more and more and more?” Paul asked the lawmakers. “We’re a sick nation and if we don’t repent then the people leading our government, you are legislating morality by the laws you pass.”
This reads like a white supremacist version of a Sarah Palin speech, but the point is still discernible. Paul isn’t just in favor of forced pregnancy to preserve the rights of Florida’s fertilized egg people. Paul is in favor of forced pregnancy to preserve “white people” and “white culture.”
Nothing like a blend of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia in a legislative hearing…
And he even found a way to mix religion in.