On Sept 14 the Manatee Board of County Commissioners voted 4 (Satcher, Baugh, Van Ostenbridge, Kruse) to 3 (Bellamy, Whitmore, Servia) to send a letter to the Florida Attorney General and have the county attorney prepare a request for a ruling on the county enacting their own abortion ban, similar to the Texas ban. There were 15 citizens that spoke against it, and 5 for the provision. Many more were not able to speak because the item was put on the agenda less than 24 hours before the meeting, so that barred those that came to speak at the beginning of the meeting (for non agenda items) from speaking. Most could not wait until the afternoon to speak. Despite the fact that abortion is legal, that the state has already issued opinions that their ordinances preempt local ones, despite the many other issues to pursue, and that there are not abortion clinics in Manatee, despite the fact that the letter was unprofessionally worded, the 4 commissioners voted to send the letter. The League thanks all that came out to protest.
This pursuit of revoking women’s rights will be a waste of efforts, time, money, and county resources that should be redirected back into the community.
On August 31, the US Supreme Court declined to rule on a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and those who aid a person in obtaining an abortion. On September 2, Florida’s Senate President Wilton Simpson shared that lawmakers are anticipating a similar bill to be brought forth during the 2022 legislative session. Similarly, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Governor Ron DeSantis have expressed interest in bringing a similar Texas-style piece of legislation to the Sunshine State.
In response to the notion of this type of legislation coming to the state of Florida, League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile Scoon has issued the following statement:
“The right to make personal choices about whether you want to carry a pregnancy to term or not are some of the most personal intimate and private decisions a woman can make and this right of privacy is protected by current Florida law.
Duly elected state leaders should do all that they can to adhere to our constitutional mandates of privacy. Not only is this the legally correct approach, the protection of an individual’s right to choose has been championed by the state executive and legislative branch leaders over community interests with recent masks and vaccine mandate prohibitions. The same leaders who boast that only parents may decide the health of their children are encouraging rhetoric that would limit a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. These competing lines of thought appear to be both in direct conflict and illogical.
Reproductive choice is not only a dire issue concerning the rights of women, but one of racial and economic justice. Limits on reproductive health services disproportionately impact Black, brown, and low-income communities, therefore upholding and perpetuating income inequality and racial disparities.
The League of Women Voters believes every person deserves the access and the privacy to make their own reproductive choices, and we will continue the fight for reproductive justice in Florida and across the nation.”