A handful of high-profile Christian activist groups and conservative legislators have declined to lend their support to Florida’s proposed fetal personhood amendment, an initiative that aims to outlaw abortion and some forms of birth control.
That’s not deterring Personhood Florida leader Bryan Longworth, who says many of those who “have a negative view of the bill have participated in an abortion” and “have to come to grips with the fact that they participated in taking their own child’s life.”
Anti-abortion critics say the initiative is simply too extreme, and are instead supporting legislation like a bill that would require that women seeking an abortion undergo mandatory ultrasounds.
Longworth, who says his group received about 1,000 petitions as a result of a January push, says that he too supports legislative moves like the mandatory-ultrasound bill — but that they don’t go far enough.
“I’m sure Gov. Scott will sign on the ultrasound bill, but it wasn’t that strong last time.” says Longworth. “It had an opt-out, where the woman could just say ‘I don’t want to see it.’ The technology is better, but an ultrasound could still be controlled. And how many babies will actually be saved? I’d vote yes, but we have to be working to end abortions.”
According to Longworth, the lack of an endorsement from powerful groups like the Family Policy Council and the Florida Catholic Conference isn’t enough to derail his group from its ultimate goal of ending abortion in the state.
In fact, Longworth fully expects those groups to come around over time.
“We frankly believe that those groups will change their mind,” he says. “When we get the signatures, they’ll see that we are serious. It has taken us longer because they haven’t come on board, but we’re building a network. In four years, we’ll have a larger organization than they have.”
Even if the Personhood Amendment never materializes, Longworth is adamant that his group will not give up. “If we don’t win, we’ll start over and do it again,” he says. “We will keep on until we succeed.”
Fetal personhood supporters often make allusions to historical movements such as women’s suffrage when touting their cause, and Longworth says that his group uses the anti-slavery movement as a template: “It took some trickery, but in the end … slavery was ended.”
Big-name pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood and Progress Florida have come out harshly against the personhood initiative, calling it a product of “radical anti-choice extremists.”
Longworth argues that Personhood Florida’s opponents may have their own personal reasons for fighting his efforts.
“A lot of the people who have a negative view of the bill have participated in an abortion,” he says. “They have to come to grips with the fact that they participated in taking their own child’s life.”