Abortion bill clears another hurdle

Senator Lauren Book speaking Wednesday in favor of her amendment to SB 146. Photo courtesy tallahassee.com

The Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy, chaired by Senator Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-Hialeah), held a hearing Wednesday on controversial legislation — Senate Bill 146 — that would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks and expand the programs to reduce fetal and infant deaths.

Republicans on a party-line vote rejected an attempt to exempt cases for rape, incest, and human trafficking and moved the bill forward with a 10-6 vote.

Current Florida law gives abortion providers up to 24 weeks to perform the procedure.

Rita Lagana, a survivor of rape and incest, urged the committee to include exceptions for human trafficking in the proposal to ban abortions after 15 weeks.

Throughout the hearing, audience members expressed their concerns about the bill, which would greatly reduce the time for a woman to obtain an abortion in Florida.

Tensions were high but the room was respectful during each person’s time at the podium.

Lagana, a survivor of rape and incest, is a retired Orange County public school teacher. She said that she had been a resident of Florida her entire life.

“As a young adult, walking home from work in St. Petersburg, Florida, I was raped. It was a traumatic experience, and it affected my life needless to say,” Lagana said. “The worst part about the encounter is I found out that I was pregnant. I cannot imagine what I would have done if I didn’t have the right to make the decision for my own body.”

On the opposing side of her argument, Aaron D. told the committee: “We believe life is precious from the moment of conception. We also believe rape and incest are horrible violent experiences and punishment should be brought down to the fullest extent of the law on the perpetrators but let us remember it is the man who is at fault, not the innocent child.”

Senator Lauren Book, D-Miami, spoke in favor of her amendment to SB 146. Throughout her speech, she gave personal reasons as to why she chose to be in favor of the amendment and also how she is a survivor of rape. She said she doesn’t want to silence the victims and not give them a choice on what to do with their bodies.

The 15-week abortion ban contains exceptions such as, if the abortion is necessary for saving the mother’s life, if the fetus has a fatal abnormality, or to prevent serious injuries.