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Florida Democratic lawmakers are gearing up for a battle on abortion

People holding signs during an abortion rally
Octavio Jones
WUSF Public Media
Protesters gather for a rally in St. Petersburg on May 3, 2022.

During a conference call Tuesday, leading state Democrats said the only way abortion rights can be preserved in Florida is by electing Democrats. Abortion, they said, should be their focus going into November.

Following the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that will overturn Roe v. Wade, Florida Democrats are gearing up for what they believe will be a major push to ban abortions outright in the state.

During a conference call Tuesday, State Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando said she expects an all-out abortion ban to come up either during an upcoming special session or the next time the legislature meets.

But she says Republicans don't want to talk about that just yet.

Anna Eskamani
Anna Eskamani

"Florida Republicans — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — are super awkward and uncomfortable talking about an all-out ban. They want to avoid it as much as possible, because they know the second they commit to it, that it'll wake up voters across the state of Florida," she said. "And that is not what they want to do before a November election year."

State Senate minority leader Lauren Book said elections have consequences. She said the Democrats' main message this election has to be that the only way abortion rights can be preserved in Florida is for more Democrats to be elected.

"We're tired. We're ready to fight," Book said. "And we're mobilizing to make sure that my daughter, women, individuals have a right to choose what happens to their bodies."

Lauren Book
Lauren Book

A state law that bans most abortion after 15 weeks will go into effect July first. An expected vote in Congress to put Roe v. Wade into law is likely to fall short in the Senate.

State Sen. Shevrin Jones of South Florida said its time Congress "gets serious" about putting Roe v. Wade — which has been in effect since 1973 — into law.

"If you want to act and legislate and put forth laws like it's 1950, 1960 or even 1973 in this case, we are going to protest like it's 1950, 1960 or 1973," he said.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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