WMNF’s daily digest of news headlines for Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

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New Florida abortion bill

Tomorrow a panel in the Florida House is scheduled to take up a bill that seeks to prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee will hold the first hearing on the controversial proposal, called HB 7. Last year Florida lawmakers passed a law to prevent abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Seven abortion clinics and a physician have challenged the constitutionality of that limit, with the case pending at the Florida Supreme Court. A key issue in the case is whether the 15-week limit violates a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that has helped protect abortion rights in the state for more than three decades. Much of the current bill would be contingent on the Supreme Court effectively upholding the 15-week law. It would allow abortions up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest, but it would require women to present proof that they were victims. A similar bill, called SB 300 has been filed in the Florida Senate.

Higher education bill

A national association of historians is sharply criticizing a Republican plan to remake higher education in Florida. The American Historical Association issued a letter earlier this month blasting House Bill 999 — which passed its first committee stop on Monday. Executive Director James Grossman says the association is against a number of provisions in the bill, including one that would give university boards of trustees the power to hire faculty members.

“Even in the private sector, you won’t find a company’s board of directors deciding who gets hired, other than the CEO,” Grossman said. “Right now, when you hire a history professor, the other history professors decide who’s the best person to hire, which makes a lot of sense. This bill basically does away with structures like that.”

Grossman says the association’s members are horrified that the legislation would give politically-appointed boards the power to shape how American history is taught at the state’s universities, instead of leaving decisions about course content to faculty. The Senate’s version of the higher education bill is set to get taken up today.

Red tide in Florida

Red tide is still killing marine life off the coast of Southwest Florida. The Center for Biological Diversity is calling on government officials to be held accountable for their role.

Gender-affirming care

A Florida Board of Medicine rule that bans gender-affirming care for transgender kids goes into effect tomorrow. This week though, a bill that codifies that rule got its first committee hearing in the state Legislature. But members of the transgender community, their parents and their allies are pushing back. They say gender-affirming care is healthcare, as well as life-saving care that helps transgender people to live full and complete lives.

 

Information from the Florida Public Radio network, News Service of Florida and Associated Press, was used in this report.

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