The Florida Senate voted Monday to approve a bill to restrict abortions after six weeks.
The measure must still be approved by the House before it reaches Gov. Ron DeSantis, who supports the legislation. Republicans hold a supermajority in the Legislature.
The vote drew peaceful protests across from the Florida state Capitol late Monday that led to the arrests of the chair of the Florida Democratic Party Nikki Fried and Florida’s Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book.
Images posted to social media capture the women and other demonstrators being handcuffed by members of the Tallahassee Police Department.
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Police said in a statement that the city had been working with protest organizers for over a week, and that the group was told last Friday the city could not accommodate its desire to camp overnight.
“After multiple warnings throughout the day, protesters acknowledged they understood that anyone refusing to leave the premises at sundown would be subject to arrest,” the department explained. “This evening, after sunset, the majority of the crowd left the property while 11 people refused to leave despite numerous requests. They were subsequently arrested for trespass after warning.”
It said the department supports non-disruptive demonstrations and encourages people exercising their First Amendment right of peaceful assembly to do so in accordance with the law.
Florida Democrats and abortion rights groups say Senate Bill 300 disproportionally affects low-income women and people of color.
“No woman should be ashamed to have an abortion,” state Sen. Tracie Davis said, according to Politico.
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Regionally, there would be an impact for abortion access in the South. The bordering state of Georgia restricts abortion after cardiac activity can be detected and the neighboring state of Alabama prohibits the procedure at all stages of pregnancy.
The Florida proposal allows exceptions to save the life of the woman and in the case of pregnancy caused by rape or incest until 15 weeks of pregnancy. A woman would be required to provide documentation, however, such as a medical record, restraining order or police report. Furthermore, it would ensure that the drugs used in medication-induced abortions could be dispensed only in person by a physician. DeSantis has called the rape and incest provisions sensible.
SB 300 would only take effect if the state’s current 15-week law is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge before the state Supreme Court.
“Bodily autonomy should not give a person the permission to kill an innocent human being,” Republican state Sen. Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill, said, per The Associated Press. “We live in a time where the consequences of our actions are an afterthought and convenience has been substitution for responsibility, and this is unacceptable when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable.”
There were two opposing Republicans, Politico reported, state Sens. Alexis Calatayud and Cory Simon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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