Opinion

Florida politicians’ remarks on 15-week abortion bill are puzzling at best, misguided at worst

Florida

The senator behind Florida’s bill restricting abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy made controversial comments recently in regards to the proposed law, which advanced last week. Senator Kelli Stargel, the chief sponsor of the bill which mirrors the Mississippi law currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, puzzlingly claimed that if her pro-life bill becomes law, not many lives will be saved from abortion.

Stargel stated, “We’re not banning anything. We’re not being mean. We’re not taking away a woman’s opportunity.”

Other pro-life Republicans have made confusing comments about the pro-life bill as well. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the bill “very reasonable,” while Rep. Dana Trabulsy said 15 weeks is a “long time,” adding, “Because I believe life begins at conception, that’s, that’s — generous.”

In September after the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, pro-life legislators in Florida considered similar legislation but scrapped it in favor of the 15-week restriction. Gov. DeSantis said he didn’t know enough about the Texas law and his staff stated that he “didn’t want to turn private citizens against each other,” which is a key part of the Texas law — it allows private citizens to sue anyone who takes part in an abortion after a heartbeat is detectable (at about six weeks) except for the mother.

Based on these comments, what are pro-lifers to make of public officials — who claim to be pro-life — to scrap a provision that has thus far remained in effect in another state, and which is estimated to have saved the lives of 75 human beings every day in that state?

“We’re not banning anything”

Stargel’s puzzling claim that the law she sponsored isn’t actually “banning anything” likely relates to the fact that the majority of abortions committed in Florida occur before 15 weeks. But if Stargel sees the law as a way to compromise with abortion supporters, when it comes to protecting human life, there can be no compromise. Pro-life Floridians believe that their pro-life legislators are working to end abortion. Are they?

There were 74,756 abortions in Florida in 2021. Of those, 70,265 were committed in the first trimester, defined as taking place through 11 weeks gestation. The remaining 4,491 abortions were reported as occurring from weeks 12 to 23. It’s likely that at least some of those abortions in the second trimester were due to a prenatal diagnosis considered “incompatible with life” and would still be allowed under an exception in the new 15-week Florida bill.

While saving even one life from abortion is a victory, why introduce a law that will save fewer lives than a law previously considered but never introduced?

 

“We’re not being mean”

The comment “we’re not being mean” is perhaps most striking because it gives the appearance that Stargel may be concerned about what abortion advocates would think of a ‘heartbeat bill’ — and misses the entire point of enacting pro-life laws. Restricting abortion isn’t about “being mean.” It’s about saving innocent preborn human beings from a violent and unjust death, and protecting women from a predatory industry that cares little for the physical and mental health risks women often experience as a result of abortion.

Does Stargel believe that it’s “mean” to protect innocent human beings from harm? Is it “mean” to help women overcome the obstacles in their lives that are pushing them into abortions they don’t want?

Suggesting that women need abortion in order to succeed is what’s “mean.” Suctioning a preborn child from the womb is “mean.”

It is abortion that is cruel and inhumane — not pro-life laws. Babies are not a punishment. Abortion is. Legislators who purport to be pro-life would do well to remember this.

“We’re not taking away a woman’s opportunity”

Stargel stated that by enacting a 15-week abortion restriction, “we’re not taking away a woman’s opportunity” — as if women need or deserve the “opportunity” to kill their children, implying that by outlawing the killing of babies by abortion women are somehow missing out. The statement also seems to confirm the idea that the bill won’t save as many lives from abortion as a ‘heartbeat bill’ would have.

What every pro-life legislator should be doing is working to ensure mothers have real opportunities. This means ensuring support on college campuses and in workplaces in the form of child-friendly policies like paid maternity leave, breastfeeding rooms, childcare, and flexible scheduling.

Mothers are still discriminated against in the workforce and in schools across the country. But it isn’t babies or pro-life laws taking away opportunities; it’s society’s expectation that since abortion is available, it is the better and easier option for women — easier than actually supporting them so they can achieve their goals while they become mothers.

Abortion removes every opportunity from the child in the womb — another point that seems to have been missed in the discussion.

Words have meaning

While the 15-week bill has been called “very reasonable,” protecting all human beings regardless of age is not only reasonable but necessary. It is never reasonable to destroy innocent human life. It is never reasonable to put a woman at risk of infection, hemorrhaging, death, suicidal thoughts, depression, and suicide because she felt she had no choice but to kill her baby. As pro-lifers, we must be careful with our words, because words have meaning.

While a 15-week abortion restriction is a step in the right direction, there was the option of enacting a law restricting abortion nine weeks earlier, the likes of which has yet to be successfully blocked in the U.S. while it saves lives every day. That opportunity has not yet been taken in the state of Florida.

Andrew Shirvell, executive director of Florida Voice for the Unborn, publicly called out politicians who say they are pro-life but have done little to protect all human beings, saying, “We’ve had pro-life majorities in our legislature for close to 30 years and a Republican governor for decades. There is really little excuse for this. If you believe that abortion is murder, then you need to act like it.”

If passed, the 15-week restriction would replace Florida’s current 24-week abortion limit but would continue to allow abortions before 15 weeks, as well as after 15 weeks when the mother’s life is considered to be at risk or the preborn child is expected to die at or shortly after birth.

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