Florida Reminds Pro-Lifers: There is Always Ground to Be Gained
As the nation watches Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in anticipation of a long-awaited presidential campaign announcement, the Sunshine State will soon be drawing national attention for another reason: the intensifying efforts of the pro-life movement in Florida to defund Planned Parenthood and pass a stronger pro-life law than the one already in existence.
Florida provides an insightful example of what the road forward looks like for states that have yet to take a firm stance on either side of the life issue, given that it is one of only seven states nationwide whose law falls in the middle ground between protecting life at conception or allowing abortion at any point in pregnancy.
Florida legislators introduced Senate Bill 300 this week, which would shift the point in gestation at which unborn children are safe from abortion from 15 weeks gestation to six weeks. Pro-life laws that protect babies beginning at six weeks are often known as “heartbeat laws” because the cardiac activity of unborn children is commonly detected around this age. Pro-life DeSantis appears supportive of such a bill, having reiterated multiple times in the past year, “We welcome pro-life legislation.”
Back in 2022, when states had begun to more seriously contemplate what protections were in place for unborn children if the Dobbs decision successfully returned the power to protect life back to legislators, Florida did not have a trigger law on the books that would prohibit abortion upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Florida moved quickly, however, to pass a 15-week pro-life law in April 2022 that mirrored Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which was at the heart of the Dobbs case. The progression to a six-week protection would be an exciting development for pro-life Americans, demonstrating to other states that incremental victories can help shift the Overton Window in the long run.
Also this week, in another victory for the pro-life movement in Florida, a federal judge has ended the permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing part of a 2016 law that defunds Planned Parenthood. “Proud to secure a victory in our case about whether Floridians should be forced to fund Planned Parenthood,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) wrote on Twitter. “The court reinstated what the legislature passed in 2016 — a ban on state funds supporting clinics that provide abortions.”
Previously, DeSantis also offered his support for the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. His office stated that it is “fully behind this action from the Attorney General and we support this move to fully defund Planned Parenthood from any taxpayer support.” Since 1993, Planned Parenthood has received over $10.35 billion in total taxpayer funding — all while reportedly committing almost eight million abortions.
“It is great news to see Florida’s law defunding all abortion businesses finally going into effect,” said Connor Semelsberger, Family Research Council’s director of Federal Affairs. “Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion business and their amount of taxpayer dollars received increases every year. With Roe v. Wade being overturned and pro-life laws going back online there is no reason a single taxpayer dollar should go to underlining their horrific abortion business.”
Following the Dobbs decision, many state leaders are looking for patterns of success to follow as they work to further protect their littlest citizens. If Florida successfully progresses from a 15-week protection to a six-week protection, and successfully defunds the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, the state will provide a helpful roadmap to others looking to make pro-life progress in 2023 and beyond.
Joy Stockbauer is a correspondent for The Washington Stand.