As we enter the second half of the Florida legislative session, several bills we warned you about continue to advance. Two in particular seem to be getting a lot of traction.
First, Florida is considering a 24 hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion. The bills sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) and Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Eustis) require a woman to make two trips to a facility at least 24 hours apart in order to give a woman time to “reflect” upon her decision to have an abortion. This bill imposes many hardships on women and is not medically necessary.
This week we saw members offer amendments that would make this law easier to comply with and mirror the majority of states that have less burdensome waiting requirements. They were flatly rejected. The bill supporters didn’t explain why Florida should be even stricter than most other states and erect even higher hurdles between women and their doctors. But from the discussion at the hearing, it’s clear that some members just hope that women won’t come back to have the procedure. We’re anticipating seeing a full House vote on the bill soon.
Second, the bill which creates public records exemptions that would prevent the public from seeing many different types of law enforcement videos made it through all three committees of referral and is ready for the Senate floor.
Right now, Florida’s major civil rights organizations like Latino Justice, the National Congress of Black Women, the Dream Defenders and the NAACP all oppose this bill. Of course, all of Florida’s law enforcement agencies have endorsed it. That should tell you how well it balances privacy and the public’s right to know how police treat people. ACLU members across the state have contacted their Senators in opposition, yet the Senate persists.
There are four weeks of session left, and committees will still meet to prepare bills for the floor for the next two. We’re closely watching the anti-LGBT bills originating in the House. It’s unclear what comes next for them – but don’t be surprised if the full House of Representatives schedules a vote on the bill permitting adoption agencies to discriminate against gays, or anyone else who violates their religious or moral beliefs. That bill sailed through committee Thursday morning and is subject to a floor vote at any time.
We’re up against tough odds in the legislature this session but we will continue to challenge these attacks on our civil liberties and laws that would legalize discrimination in Florida.