On the last day of Florida’s legislative session, Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Daytona Beach, received the ACLU of Florida’s “Defender of Freedom” award for the week. The award came on the heels of an impassioned speech she gave in opposition to a bill that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion, with an option to view or listen to the description of the ultrasound. Lynn was among a handful of moderate Republicans who broke party lines during the session to voice their opposition to provisions aimed at limiting the rights of women in the state.
Here are just a few examples:
- During last week’s state Senate passage of the mandatory ultrasound bill, Lynn told her colleagues that she would continue to not vote for a single abortion bill because it “is not the issue that is the most important issue in this state.” She said she did not go to Tallahassee to legislate religion and values while the state faced serious economic problems.
- That same week, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, strongly supported an amendment that would have retained current provisions for a judicial bypass for parental notification for abortion. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, wrote legislation that would have restricted which courts a minor has access to when seeking an abortion. Bogdanoff said during the debate that “there are very, very few minors that look for the judicial bypass, but when they do, it is because of serious concerns. In order to protect the privacy of these young women and make sure that they are not at risk when they go home, I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to accept this amendment.”
- Sens. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, and Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, both voiced opposition to an original version of the mandatory ultrasound bill. Before an opt-out was provided, women seeking an abortion would have been forced to listen to descriptions of ultrasound, as well as view the ultrasound. Latvala voiced concerns over what women would be forced to hear. He asked, “Could that be, ‘I see the little legs kicking. I see the heart beating’? Those kinds of things? Is that what the woman is going to have to go through here?”
- Despite opposition from Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans, the overwhelming Republican majority in both the state House and Senate — and a few defections from the Democrats — provided for the successful passage of six abortion-restricting bills in the House, a handful of which passed through the Senate and made their way to the governor’s desk.