Though many pro-life elected officials have attempted to distance themselves from Florida’s “fetal personhood” amendment, which would outlaw abortions and some forms of birth control, state Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, filed a bill in late January that shares some common language with Personhood Florida’s proposed law.
Van Zant’s legislation not only aims to prohibit induced abortions, but would punish abortion doctors as felons, should they violate the measures included in the so-called “Florida for Life Act.”
House Bill 415 (.pdf) is more overtly religious than the personhood initiative. In addition to stating that “all life comes from the Creator and begins at conception, ”Van Zant’s act also includes language explicitly stating that the United States Supreme Court is not qualified to “determine, establish, or define the moral values of the people of the United States and specifically for the people of Florida.”
The Florida for Life Act also states that the Florida Constitution “contains the sovereign peoples’ acknowledgment of the Creator as the source of constitutional liberty” and that the U.S. Constitution expresses no qualifications for states to “protect life in a manner consistent with the moral consensus of the people, and reflecting the peoples’ belief in a Creator.”
An op-ed piece in today’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune calls the bill “extreme” in that it “fails to respect legal precedent and Florida’s constitution.”
Van Zant, an ordained Baptist minister, filed a similar (and unsuccessful) measure last February, telling the St. Augustine Record that he felt “felt led by the Lord” to file the bill: “I just felt like we’re destroying a lot of Florida’s children, and we need to stop.”