A panel of Florida senators listened to hours of testimony on a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy yesterday. The bill comes after the Republican-controlled Legislature last year passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Supporters of the six-week limit have described it as a “heartbeat” bill because they say fetal heartbeats can be detected at about six weeks of pregnancy. State Senator Erin Grall is the bill sponsor. Opponents of the bill, including State Senator Lori Berman, feel a six-week limit would effectively ban abortion, as many women don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks.
Under the bill, moving to a six-week limit would be contingent on the Florida Supreme Court effectively upholding last year’s 15-week law. It is unclear when the court will rule on the challenge, though it probably will be after the legislative session. The bill easily passed the committee with senators voting along party lines. It heads to the full Florida Senate for a debate on the floor. That could be as early as tomorrow.
Hillsborough book ban
The Hillsborough County School Board has expanded a proposed book ban county-wide as it voted 4-3 yesterday to remove the book, “This Book is Gay” from all middle school libraries in Hillsborough County. More than 50 speakers were at public comment. The book had been unanimously approved by two committees at Pierce Middle School, but two parents without children attending the school challenged the book based on sexually explicit language. School Board Attorney Jim Turner cautioned that the only thing before the board to decide was whether to accept this appeal for Pierce Middle School and that anything further would open them up to possible legal challenges for not following the process.
Nadia Combs, Jessica Vaughn and Karen Perez did not vote to ban it from all middle schools since they had only agreed to consider it just for Pierce Middle School. Board member Patti Rendon had cited Florida Statutes such as 847 to explain why she said the Board needed to keep pornographic materials out of some schools, although the board agreed the book was not pornographic, it just may not have been more geared towards high schoolers. Some high school students said that the book provides valuable nonfiction information. Naydeli Laffita is a senior at Leto High School.
Last year, anti-semitic incidents in the US surged to historic levels.
Medicaid in Florida
Florida Democratic lawmakers are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to take action before more than 1 million Floridians are kicked off Medicaid. The Continuous Enrollment Medicaid provision ends Saturday.
Information from the Florida Public Radio network, News Service of Florida and Associated Press was used in this report.